Garden Fence FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

Maintaining a garden fence will help to keep it protected and looking great. A well maintained wooden fence will last considerably longer than one that is not, saving on the cost of replacing expensive panels and posts prematurely. With the cost of replacing a whole garden fence potentially costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds, this is an expense that you will want to avoid.

At ‘Home Gardener’, we get asked a lot about garden fence care and maintenance. Here we try to answer many of the more commonly asked questions.

Garden Fence FAQ’s

Click on a question to be taken to the answer below.

(Q) can I use an oil-based decking stain or oil on my wooden fence?

(A) For new fence panels or wooden fences that haven’t been treated for a number of years, the simple answer is yes. Decking oils and oil-based decking stains, clear or coloured, offer great protection against weathering. Oil-based decking products also help to keep exterior wood nourished and supple, therefore helping to prevent fence panels from cracking, splitting, warping, and shrinkage.

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(Q) What is the best fence paint sprayer?

(A) There are numerous, inexpensive, shed and fence sprayers on the market, all of which can dramatically cut down the time taken to treat or paint garden fence panels. Before using a garden sprayer, it is worth checking that the fence treatment product being used is suitable for spraying. Some products may be too thick or viscous to spray whilst others such as solvent-based products may not be safe to spray. If a solvent-based product such as a wood preserver is being sprayed, it may perish the washers, seals and hoses of some pump sprayers so check to see if the sprayer is solvent resistant. Even if it’s not, it should provide several days of problem free spraying meaning that the cost of the sprayer is still worth the time saved to get large scale projects completed.

Popular pump sprayers or garden sprayers

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(Q) Is there a fence panel paint calculator I can use?

(A) Working out the area of a garden fence to estimate how much fence paint is needed is fairly straight forward. Many sites that sell fence paints, stains, exterior wood oils and fence preservers have calculators on their websites to help with this if required. The way to do this manually is fairly simple. Take the height and width of the fence panels, lets say 6 feet wide by 6 feet high, times them to get the square area so 6 x 6 = 36 square feet. If doing both sides of the panels simply times this by 2 (6 x 6 = 36 x 2 = 72 square feet). Although this will give you an estimation to work out how much fence paint or other fence product you need, it’s worth baring in mind that every piece of wood is different in terms of type, structure, how porous it is and if it’s new or old. This means that some fence panels will absorb more or less fence treatment than others meaning that the estimated coverage may be slightly over or under what is actually required..

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(Q) how can I prevent my wood fence from turning grey?

(A) Wooden fence panels will naturally turn grey or silver over time as a result of the Suns UV (Ultra Violet) rays and weathering i.e rain and wind. If the fence panels are new, they can be treated with a UV resistant exterior wood oil suitable for fences. Alternatively, using a clear decking oil with UV filters will also help to protect the colour of the timber. One thing to keep in mind is that these wood oils will not stop the natural greying process but will slow it down, much like a suntan cream protects skin from UV damage. If fence panels are losing or have lost their colour, this can be restored by either using a coloured wood preservative or a coloured exterior wood oil or coloured decking oil.

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(Q) What’s the difference between a decking stain and fence stain?

(A) A wood stain can be any product that colours the wood be it a coloured fence stain, coloured wood oil, including decking oils or coloured wood preservative. coloured decking oils tend to be more durable than fence stains as they have to withstand direct contact with foot traffic and pooled water which makes them ideal for use on garden fences too. Decking oils are also very easy to maintain requiring just a maintenance coat as and when required to keep fences weatherproof and protected. Unlike some types of coating type stains, decking oils will never crack, flake or peel off the wood.

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(Q) Are wood oils a good option for weatherproofing and protecting a wooden fence?

(A) Exterior wood oils are an excellent choice. Available in both clear and colour tinted variations, they are easy to apply and maintain. Wood oils penetrate into the wood grain to protect the wood from water ingress and weathering. Oils also keep the wood supple which helps to prevent fence timbers from cracking, splitting and warping. Find out more about oil-based fence treatments here.

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(Q) What is the best fence paint for wooden garden fences?

(A) There a huge range of fence paints and stains that are perfect for garden fences and other exterior wooden structures. Colour range is usually one of the key deciding factors when picking the best fence paint for your project. As well as the traditional range of brown shades such as cedar, oak, and mahogany, fence paints also come in a wide range of trendy, modern colours including various shades of grey, silver, blue, green and about almost any other colour you can imagine. Many garden paints and stains can also be spray applied which can vastly cut the time needed to complete large progects. Find out more about garden fence paint sprayers here.

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(Q) What is the best way to apply a fence stain and which is the best fence stain?

(A) As with garden fence paints, the usual way to apply fence stains is with a wide head block brush, this can make short work of big projects. A five by six foot fence panel can usually be stained in around 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, many fence stains can be spray applied with a manual pump sprayer or an electric sprayer, meaning that large wooden fences can be treated much quicker than with a brush. You can find out more about garden fence stain sprayers here. In terms of deciding which is the best fence stain for your project, there are a huge range of fence stain colours that are perfect for any garden fence. The colours available range from traditional wood tone colours through to pastels and vibrant shades of greens, blues, greys and more.

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Types of Garden Fence Treatments

With so many wood treatments available, that seal, protect, and waterproof garden fences, deciding on which is best for your project can seem difficult. Factors such as the age, condition, and if the fence has been previously treated can all play a part in knowing which wood treatment to use. For a general ‘overview’ of fence treatments, see our ‘Garden Fence Care & Maintenance‘ page.

For a more detailed explanation of each fence treatment type, follow the links below: –

Do you have a garden fence care and maintainance related question that we haven’t covered above? Let us know and if it is something that we get asked more than a couple of times, we’ll add it to this page along with the answer to help other site visitors.

We cover a wide range garden wood care topics including sheds, fences, decking and more. If you’re looking for answers to many of the common problems and issues that can affect these garden fixtures and fittings, visit our FAQ index page for more answers and solutions to these problems.


We always recommend that test areas are done to assess product suitability and final finish, before starting any project. For technical advice, troubleshooting or any other product or situational queries, always refer to the product manufacturer’s published information and guidance. For technical information on products and their suitability for a given project, contact the manufacturer’s technical support departments directly. Contact details including phone numbers can usually be found on the manufacturer’s products and/or website. cannot be held responsible in any way, shape or form for the guidance given in our gardening faq’s or any other part or page of our website. This is due to the unpredictable nature of wood, its age, species, condition, previous history including previous treatments and/or contamination, environmental, and application considerations, which can all differ from one piece of wood to the next and which will ultimately have an effect on any wood finish applied, including but not limited to suitability, colour, performance and overall results. If in any doubt about the suitability of a product for a given project, always contact the product manufacturer before starting any project or seek the advice of a professional contractor.