Deciding whether to paint or stain your pressure treated fence can be a daunting task. Do either of these options offer any real benefits? This in-depth guide explores the practicalities and aesthetic choices behind these two popular garden border treatments.

As any homeowner knows, a beautifully crafted fence can make a garden feel inviting and well-maintained. Choosing the right treatment for your pressure treated fence is an important decision that can significantly impact its appearance and durability. To help you make an informed decision, we'll examine the pros and cons of both paint and stain options.

Pressure treated wood: the basics

Pressure treated wood is a type of lumber that has been treated with chemicals to protect it from rot, decay, and insect infestations. This makes it ideal for outdoor projects like fencing, as it is more resistant to the elements than untreated wood. However, pressure treated wood can still become weathered and worn over time, making it necessary to treat it with paint or stain to further protect it and enhance its appearance.

Paint: advantages and drawbacks


  1. Colour choices: One of the main advantages of painting your fence is the wide range of colours available. You can choose a bold hue that makes a statement or opt for a more natural tone to blend with your garden's surroundings.
  2. Opacity: Paint offers a high level of opacity, which means it can cover up any blemishes or imperfections in the wood.
  3. UV protection: Quality exterior paint will provide an extra layer of protection against the sun's ultraviolet rays, potentially extending the lifespan of your fence.


  1. Preparation: Before painting, you'll need to properly clean and prime your fence in order for the paint to adhere correctly. This can be laborious and time-consuming.
  2. Maintenance: Paint can begin to crack, chip, and peel after a few years, requiring more frequent maintenance and reapplication than stain.
  3. Trapped moisture: The film-forming nature of paint may trap moisture in the wood, potentially causing rot and decay over time.

Stain: advantages and drawbacks


  1. Natural appearance: A stain enhances the natural grain and beauty of the wood, offering a more rustic and organic look.
  2. Penetrative protection: Stains penetrate the wood, meaning that they won't crack or peel like paint, and are less likely to trap moisture.
  3. Low maintenance: Stained fences typically require less upkeep than painted ones, only needing to be re-stained every few years.


  1. Limited colour options: While there are various shades to choose from, the colour range of stains is typically more limited compared to paint.
  2. Less coverage: Stains have lower opacity, meaning they won't provide the same concealment of blemishes or imperfections as paint.