Painting vs Staining: Do You Paint or Stain Your Fence or Deck

Painting vs Staining : Which Is Better

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Both paint and stain have unique benefits. Stain is much cheaper and easier to apply, but paint lasts longer. Read this article to find out the differences and benefits.

Wooden decks are a great way to enhance the beauty of your house and make it feel much livelier. Decks can also increase the overall value of your house. Also, fences are useful for privacy or protecting a backyard pool. But over time, fences and decks slowly lose their color and glamour therefore you need to paint or stain them again to get back their original glow. But what are the benefits of painting and staining? What are the differences? Before we answer these questions, let’s look at what painting is and what staining is.


We’re all familiar with the term painting, which means coating something like your deck and fence with fresh paint. It can be the original color of the deck or fence, or it can be a completely new color, depending on your preference. The right time to paint your deck and fence is when they look tired and lose their glow. These items should be repainted with a color coat every five or more years.


Staining is when a product is applied on top of wooden objects so that they can keep its original glow. This doesn’t apply a new color over the wooden deck and fence, but brings back the natural wooden textures.

The Required Tools

If you want to do painting or staining yourself, you will need the right tools. For painting, you will need a brush, rollers, paint, and plastic sheets. For staining, you’ll need a sander, stiff brooms, oil or water-based stains, and a tarp for your woodworking toolkit.

Pros and Cons of Staining

Now that we have a simple idea about painting and staining and the tools, let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of the two.

The Pros

  • 1. Cost-Effective – Staining is very cheap but can still effectively bring out the glamour from the wooden decks and fences wooden decks and fences. One gallon of stain costs only $35. The tools for staining are relatively cheap too. So, you don’t need to spend much to stain the decks and fences.
  • 2. Easy Application –  Staining is very easy to apply. You just need to prepare the surface of the deck and fence by sanding it with a sander. After sanding, you can simply add the stain and it will smoothly seep into the wooden grains of your deck or fence.
  • 3. Great for Preserving Natural Appearance – If you wish to preserve the natural appearance of your wooden decks and fences, then staining them should be the right choice. Apply stain every year and your wooden items will look as good as new.

The Cons

  • 1. Ineffective with Old Wood – We mentioned before that it is best to apply stains each year. You can also apply them after two years. But any more than that, then you need more than staining. The older a wooden item gets without staining, the less effective staining will be.
  • 2. Limited Variety – Staining does not have much variety and doesn’t and you cannot change the color of your deck or fence. You also cannot apply stain on metal fences.

Pros and Cons of Painting

The Pros

1. Increased Resilience

A good thing about paint is that it increases the resilience of the object. It slows down the wear and tear process of wooden objects. For example, a painted wooden surface will survive much longer than those that haven’t been painted. This is because paint makes your decks and fences less prone to external damage.

2. Wide Variety

When applying paint, you have more options. You can either color the wooden decks with the original color or apply a whole new color. The same goes for painting metal fences. You can give them a rustic look or be creative and add tacky colors.

3. Flexible Application Time

Unlike stain, paint does not have a time limit. You can repaint the deck and the fence after one year or four years, the effect will be the same. So you do not worry about when you should apply paint.

4. Long-Lasting

Paint lasts a long time once applied properly, which is much longer than a stain. If you paint your deck or fence and maintain the surface properly, you might not need to repaint it again for five to ten years.

The Cons

1. Expensive

Paint is much more expensive than stain. A gallon of paint will cost you about $65. There are additional costs as well, such as primer that can cost $10-$40 per gallon. So, it can get pretty pricey.

2. Hides Original Wood Appearance

Paint puts a thick coat of color on top of your wooden surface. This can block the original wooden texture of your deck and the fence. So, if you want to enjoy the original grain-like features of your wood, then paint isn’t a great option.

Final Thoughts

Staining and painting both have their pros and cons. Whichever one you use is completely up to you. If you understand the benefits and challenges of staining and painting, then you can easily decide which one is best for your deck or fence.