How to paint a fence

The Best Way to Paint an Exterior Fence

If you have a wood fence that needs a facelift, you can grab a paintbrush and spend several days on the project. Or, you can use a sprayer and finish in an afternoon. With a sprayer, you won't have to dab into tight corners or go over the same spot several times to replenish paint soaking into hungry wood. Sprayers, such as a Wagner FLEXiO, shorten the job and provide maximum coverage and a streak-free finish.

When to Paint

If you've recently built your wood fence, you'll want to let it season for three to four weeks before applying paint or stain. Moisture in unseasoned wood can cause warping, and paint adhesion will also suffer. Wait for dry weather and begin painting in the early morning before the sun heats the wood. Wood that’s hot can cause the paint solvent to evaporate quickly, resulting in cracks and other defects.

Prepping for Spraying

Professional painters call the process of scraping, cleaning and masking for paint jobs “prepping.” Whenever you use a sprayer, prepping should involve drop cloths to protect surrounding vegetation, sidewalks and landscape features. Don't forget to put a drop cloth immediately under the section of the fence you're painting to catch drips. If your fence has been previously painted, prepping also includes scraping off all peeling or chipping paint. A power washer gets this job done quickly and efficiently -- just remember to let the fence thoroughly dry before applying paint. If the fence needs repairs, it's better to do these before you paint so you can hide any new screws or wood filler.

Setting Up the Sprayer

Unless you're painting a small fence section, you'll save money by buying paint in five-gallon buckets and using a FLEXiO 990. It is quick to set up the sprayer and get it primed for painting. The sprayer pump attaches to the five-gallon bucket, and you can move both at the same time as you progress along the fence line. Adjust the nozzle to give broad coverage while still affording you the ability to focus in corners and crevices. All FLEXiO sprayers come with nozzles you can adjust as needed -- an advantage over conventional airless sprayers.

Spraying Technique

One of the cardinal rules of paint spraying is to maintain a uniform 6-8" distance between the nozzle and the surface you're painting. Be careful not to arc off at the end of the stroke. When painting rails, set the nozzle to spray a vertical pattern, and move the gun back-and-forth. When painting panels, you can use the same method, but it's a good idea to go back over your work in the perpendicular direction with the nozzle rotated 90 degrees. This creates a crisscross pattern that eliminates streaks. Even if your fence needs two coats, it can take just a weekend to give it a completely new look that will impress the neighbors. You’ll love the results!

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