Does A Fence Need To Be Dry Before Painting?

You can paint your fence to improve the aesthetic appeal of your yard, protect it against the elements, or change the color. There are various reasons you would want to paint your fence. However, can you paint it when it is wet? We consulted with the paint and fence experts to bring you the answers.

Although it is possible to apply paint on a wet fence, it is recommended to let it dry before painting due to two main reasons:

  • Adequate paint adhesion
  • Save money

Continue reading as we unravel the reasons for drying your fence before painting and the possibility of painting a wet fence. We shall also tackle the cost of painting.

painted terrace railings - Does A Fence Need To Be

Why Your Fence Needs To Be Dry Before Painting

Painting a wooden fence with green paint. Repair concept

According to paint experts, for best results, a surface needs to be clean and dry before painting, your fence included. Subject to the weather conditions, a wooden fence will need at least 24 hours, while a concrete fence may only need a few hours to dry.

The following are reasons your fence needs to be dry ahead of a paint job, including:

Adequate Paint Adhesion

For paint to bond firmly onto a surface, it should be dry. Let’s look at three types of fences; wood, concrete, and metal, and understand why you should not paint them when wet. 

Wood Fence

Only a few fibers will absorb the paint when the wood is wet, creating a sloppy finish, and peeling off when the paint is dry. The paint on the damp wood may thin out after mixing with moisture.

It will run and drip to look more like a wash than a paint job. Also, bubbles may form on the wood when the paint mixes with the moisture.  

Generally, we paint wood to keep moisture out. Therefore, if we paint the wood when wet, it will be sealed inside, creating an environment for mold to grow, leading to rot.

From the disadvantages mentioned, it is better to paint your wooden fence when it is dry. It can last at least 10 years when it’s painted dry. But, the years become fewer when painted wet because the paint will come off more easily.  

Concrete Fence

Similar to a wooden fence, you should allow a concrete fence to dry completely. The paint will not bond well onto the surface if you paint it when damp. Some parts will have paint peeling off.

Metal Fence

Painting on wet metal will affect the outcome. The paint will not bond well to the metal and eventually peel off. 

Save Money

As seen above, applying paint on a wet fence will deteriorate after some time. The paint will come off, and you will have to repeat the job, which will cost you more.

To avoid spending hefty amounts, you would rather wait until your fence is dry. Furthermore, carefully follow the instructions to properly apply the paint for an excellent finish that will last a long time. 

How Can You Know Your Fence Is Dry Enough To Paint?

Renovation of the wooden fence. Close-up of man painting with brush wooden fence on white color, after winter.

Since it is beneficial to dry your fence before painting, how can you tell if it is dry enough to paint? A pin-type moisture meter like the one below can help you know the moisture content.

To measure moisture content in a wooden fence, insert the prongs of this gadget deep into the wood. The prongs look like needles, which you push into the wood, after which the moisture readings will appear on the meter. If it has a moisture content of less than 15%, it is dry enough.

Check out this pin-type moisture meter on Amazon.

Since it might be impossible to insert the needles into concrete and metal, you could use a non-invasive moisture meter like the pinless one shown above to measure the moisture content.

Check out this pinless moisture meter on Amazon.

Can You Paint Your Wet Fence?

blue wooden background with rain drops

You now understand why you should wait for your wooden fence to dry before painting. But, if you have no choice but to paint it when wet, can you still paint it? Yes, it is possible to paint your fence when wet.

For a wooden fence, you need to prepare it before painting. You start by drying it as much as you can. You may use damp paper towels, a hairdryer, or a fan. Though, if your fence is long covering a big yard, this might not be feasible. 

Next, use water-based paint that uses water as the solvent, which soaks easily into wet wood. Don’t use oil-based wood because the oils in the paint will not adhere to the wood. The damp wood will not absorb the oil paint. 

Apply the first coat of paint with a foam paintbrush to achieve a smooth finish. Let the first coat dry. Afterward, apply a second coat of paint. 

If your fence is metal or concrete, you could apply water-proof paint, which adheres well to wet metal and concrete.

Cost Of Painting Your Fence

Man painting wood stain at timber plank in garden. Paint protective varnish on wooden picket fence at backyard

First, if you are the one painting, it will be cheaper than hiring a professional. But, remember, a professional can do a much better job that will last longer, especially if you are not confident with your painting skills. 

Several factors that determine the cost of painting your fence include:

Intricate Design

A complex fence may cost more to paint because it might be labor-intensive. You might end up using more paint. For example, a fence with multiple panels will need more paint. A fence with single boards close together is easier to paint, requiring less paint.

Number Of Coats

The more the coats of paint needed, the more it will cost you. You may need to apply two coats to achieve a polished look. For example, you have to apply primer on metal before applying paint. 

New Fence

A new fence does not need much preparation to paint, reducing the costs because you will not use much paint. On the other hand, repainting will require more preparation before painting.

This is done by removing old paint and sanding the surface to create a smooth surface. In such a situation, you will need more paint, increasing the cost of labor and painting.

The price of painting a fence depends on the material it is made from. To paint a wooden fence costs roughly $3.50 per linear foot. A chain-link fence would cost around $6.80 per linear foot to paint, while a metal fence made of steel costs $8.

If you hire a professional to do the job for you, you will have to pay them $8 per linear foot or $1.50 per square foot.

painted terrace railings

In Closing

For a good finish and durability, paint your fence when it is dry. But, if you must paint it when it is wet, there are some preparations you need to observe.

A moisture meter is a gadget that will help you determine how much moisture is in your fence. From this, you will know if your fence is dry enough to paint.

It can be cheaper to paint the fence yourself instead of hiring labor. However, it might be better to hire a professional who can do a good job that will last longer. Also, consider the factors that determine the cost of painting a fence to help you spend within your budget.

Can your neighbor paint your fence on their side? Read our previous post by clicking here: Can Neighbor Paint My Fence On Their Side?

How about using a sprinkler near your fence? To find out click on this link: Sprinkler Hitting Fence