Whether to paint or stain your fence is a common conundrum for discussion amongst home-owners. Whilst it sounds like it should be a simple question, there are some complexities than can even cause issues or conflict with neighbours.
WHOSE FENCE IS IT ANYWAY?
Every fence has two sides. If you own both of them – say one boundary of your land runs along a highway – then there can be no issues, you can do what you like. But, technically in law, if a fence belongs to your neighbour, then you have to get his permission before you paint or stain your side of it. After all, he or she paid for it.
More practically, if you’re on good terms with your neighbour, you’re probably going to get an ‘OK’ without problems. Top tip here is that it’s often good to discuss it over a cold beer or glass of wine! Do be careful that you check the fence for holes though, especially if you’re going to use paint. If the neighbour’s fence is painted dusky blue and you dribble terracotta all over it, well …
TO PAINT OR TO STAIN – THAT IS THE QUESTION
This is partly an aesthetic question and partly an economic one.
Fence paint will give you more variety and it’s cheaper than stain, but you need more of it. You’ll also find you’ll probably need to touch it up every 3 years or so as it’s only a surface covering and will wear off – that generally involves a fair bit of work preparing the surface.
Fence stain on the other hand sinks into the wood and requires less maintenance – if you do need to refresh the coating the only ‘prep’ it requires is a good going over with a power washer (make sure it’s dried out before re-staining). Stain also acts as a preservative so your fence will probably last longer.
FORTY SHADES OF FENCE
Traditionally fences were pretty naturalistic in style and stained in either a neutral colour to show the character of the wood, or any one of several shades of brown or even black. If left untreated most fences will weather down to a neutral grey. Today semi-transparent fence stains come in a much wider range of colours, but still err on the side of natural tones of brown and green.
But, let’s be honest, we live in a technicolour world and the ability to paint your fence opens up all sorts of possibilities. Today’s interior design gurus love a ‘feature wall’. Why not a ‘feature fence’? In particular blue is gaining in popularity as a fence colour, and anybody who has visited the gardens in Marrakech can testify to the impact it makes. Colour has increasingly come to the fore in the more modernistic contemporary gardens at Chelsea where it is used as a tonal backdrop to the planting.
A HORIZON WHERE PLANTING MEETS PAINTING
In many ways planting is what it’s all about. There is a mantra in gardening that nature never worries about colour, rather throwing plants together at random against whatever the local horizon is. So, if you have a colour scheme for your planting, think about what sort of horizon you want to put behind it. And bear in mind that nature puts greenery with every colour imaginable – even if you have low maintenance shrubs there is no reason you cannot put damson or pink behind it.
MAKING YOUR GARDEN LOOK BIGGER
The only caveat to choosing a fence colour is if you have a small area to fence and want to make it look bigger. Here garden design experts tend to agree that darker colours tend to give a feeling of expanded space.
DON’T WANT TO PAINT OR STAIN? WE HAVE THE ANSWER
Of course, not everybody wants the chore and faff of either painting or staining. But worry not – at Birkdale we have developed our very own ‘paint-free, stain-free’ fencing panels. You’ll find them in our Vento Panel range. They not only come in a choice of Anthracite Grey, Sepia Brown or Natural colourways, they are sustainable and made from a minimum of 60% recycled plastic and waste materials from the timber industry.