Talking About Fence Materials

How To Paint A Picket Fence

If you grow tired of your picket fence color, or it looks faded, a simple paint job will update it. Unlike Tom Sawyer who was faced with the tedious task of painting his aunt's fence, you don't need a team of workers. You now have the option of airless spray guns to make the task much easier and faster. Paint your picket fence by following these directions.

Prepare to Paint the Picket Fence

To paint the fence, gather:

  • work gloves 
  • eye goggles 
  • masking tape or painter's tape
  • plastic sheets or tarp
  • power washer
  • paint scraper
  • random orbital sander with 100-grit disc
  • twine
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • wood preservative
  • stiff paint brush
  • airless spray gun
  • wood primer and paint

If you don't own an airless spray gun, rent or buy one from home improvement or paint stores. Be aware of cheaper spray guns, which could clog. 

Cover the ground underneath the fence with plastic or tarp, then use twine to tie back shrubs. When painting long fences, work in small sections to avoid keeping plants covered too long. Place masking tape or painter's tape over the gate hardware.

Clean and Prime

Use the paint scraper to remove old paint chips in small areas. For larger paint chip areas, run the sander over the flat picket sides. Sanding also helps to smooth the surface better. 

Brush on a coat of wood preservative by hand before you paint to protect the fence from the elements. Plan to do this during a three- to four-day dry spell, so the preservative can set. 

Brush a thin coat of primer on the surface by hand. On older fences, you should only have to spot-prime using a brush. Let the primer dry, and add another thin coat, if needed.

Paint the Fence

Pour some paint into the spray gun reservoir. If it has a detachable pump,.dip the pump into the paint to fill it. Don't place your hands near the spray gun tip, and paint on a non-windy day.

Begin by painting the back rails. Hold the nozzle several inches away from the post, twist it to paint in horizontal, overlapping each pass by one half. Paint in thin layers to avoid drips and runs. If the gun spatters, thin the paint with paint thinner.

Swap to a vertical motion to paint the pickets, and move the plastic or tarp as needed. Inspect each section for missing spots, and paint them by hand, then let the paint dry. Use the paint thinner to thin paint in the nozzle and reservoir, and spray it out on the plastic or tarp.