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.

You will need:
  • FLEXiO 2000 Paint Sprayer
  • Extension Cord
  • Step Ladder
  • Painters Tape
  • Plastic Tarps
  • Drop Cloths
  • Whisk Broom
  • White exterior latex paint with primer built in

Step 1 - Prepping for Spraying

Professional painters call the process of scraping, cleaning and masking for paint jobs “prepping.” Whenever you use a paint 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. Use a counter brush to remove any dust, cobwebs or debris from the wood surface and trellis work. A power washer can also get the 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.

Step 2 - 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.

Step 3 - 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!

Keep a step ladder handy to aide in spraying the top portion of the gate or anything too high to reach.

To spray trellis portion of fence, set the FLEXiO paint sprayer to horizontal spray pattern and spray from side to side starting at the top. Move slowly enough to make sure you cover all the nooks, crannies and edges of the intricate cut work.

Review

Once the fence is completed, revisit each portion of the fencing (both top and bottom) and retouch any spots that have a thin coat of paint or show bare wood. Enjoy the even finish over all the intricate parts of your fence, both front and back. Hand painting with a brush would have taken weeks to complete this project.

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