3 Reasons Why Your Fence Paint Keeps Washing Off

Does your fence lose more colour every time it rains? We explain why that happens and how you can fix the problem for good.

When the paint washes off on your fence, there are mostly one of three things responsible. The wrong kind of paint was used, the coat was applied at the wrong time and in the wrong way.

Nothing is more disheartening than realizing that a fresh coat of paint is gone. Or streaking, fading, and possibly even peeling. Find out more about why paint fails on fences and how you can avoid it.

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The Top 3 Reasons Why Paint Washes Off Your Fence

If this is happening to you, do not despair. This is actually quite a common problem people encounter when they paint their fences. They pick a great colour, put in the effort to apply a coat or two and love the uplifting new look of their fence. Then it rains or the kids play with the garden house – and everything goes south (literally). 

The top 3 reasons include:

  1. Using the wrong paint for your fence.
  2. Painting the fence at the wrong time.
  3. Incorrect preparation and painting techniques.

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How To Choose The Right Paint For Your Fence Project

3 Reasons Why Your Fence Paint Keeps Washing Off

Can I Use Any Paint On My Wooden Fence?

No, unfortunately not. But let’s look at why a fence needs to be painted and how the right kind of goop can help.

Painting your wooden fence is not just to make it look pretty. The right kind of paint will also lengthen the lifespan of the barrier since wood is very vulnerable to the sun and moisture. Applying the right paint can not only weather the things that make paint wash off but it will also keep the wooden slats in great shape. 

What Is The Right Kind Of Paint?

The best choice is acrylic latex paint. Here are several benefits you can expect:

  • Acrylic latex provides an effective barrier against moisture like rain and sprinklers.
  • It contracts and expands with wood during temperature changes, preventing cracks from appearing in the paint.

A lot of places recommend using oil-based paint for wooden fences. This is not a bad choice and it should keep your fence looking spruce for a few seasons. And there is the problem – a few seasons. Unlike acrylic latex paint, oil-based products do not expand. When temperature or moisture causes the wood to contract or expand, this will cause the paint to crack and peel.

Another thing to consider is a wood preserver. This is not just necessarily for your fence but for all your outdoor furniture and even the shed.

Painting The Fence At The Wrong Time

Feeling excited about painting the fence with a colour that rocks? Hold it! You have everything in place – the brush, the right kind of paint, and you even blocked out the time on your calendar. But you probably did not take the weather into account. 

Sure, the sky looks blue and there is no chance of rain but other weather-related goblins are waiting to wreak mischief too. Let’s look at the main things you need to watch out for. 

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3 Reasons Why Your Fence Paint Keeps Washing Off

The Rain Forecast

Getting the most obvious one out of the way, one must make sure that the weather forecast shows no rain for at least three days. Paint takes a while to settle or cure and rain on the second or third day could ruin that process. 

The Correct Temperature

This is kind of like a goldilocks situation. If the weather is too cold or too hot, the paint also won’t cure properly. Most experts recommend that you paint your fence when the day is predicted to swing between 5 and 32 degrees Celsius. 

There Should Be Little To No Wind

A slight breeze can actually be beneficial by helping the paint to dry faster. However, the problem with a stronger wind is that all sorts of debris will get blown onto your wet fence. Once these bits get stuck in the wet paint, you cannot get them out without ruining the coat you had just applied. We have all seen those gritty-looking paint jobs. You can rest assured that it was done on a windy day and too much dust and sand got stuck in the paint.

The Correct Humidity Levels

When you are planning on painting anything outside, the ideal humidity falls between 40 and 70 percent. High humidity is particularly destructive with paint.

  • It often weakens the paint’s protective properties.
  • High humidity can lengthen the time that paint takes to cure.
  • The paint often develops a poor finish.
  • The paint becomes discoloured, often showing horrible brown marks known as leaching.

Read Next: How to stop ivy from coming through the fence.

Incorrect Preparation And Painting Techniques

One might choose the perfect day and weather but when you fail to prepare or paint the fence in the right way, it can also cause the paint to wash off. Here are the steps to safely paint your fence.

Step 1: Remove all the old nails, splinters, and paint.

Step 2: Give the wood a proper sanding to ensure that the surface is clean and new. 

Step 3: Inspect the wood for moist or rotten parts. If you find any, these need to be taken care of before you can apply the paint otherwise the rotting will continue unabated.

Step 4: Choose the best primer that you can and apply a coat.

Step 5: Allow the primer to dry completely. Do not skip adding a primer because your fence will develop a better-looking finish.

Step 6: Use a large brush and paint in the direction of the panels (for example, paint up and down if your planks are positioned vertically).

Step 7: Make sure that you have not missed any small spots, especially in hard-to-reach areas. 

Step 8: You can apply a second or third coat if necessary. A top-notch quality paint usually requires only a single coat.

Step 9: Clean your brushes as soon as possible to preserve their usefulness for future projects.

Step 10: Allow the fence to dry completely before you add creepers, adjustments or before activating the water sprinkler again.

A Short Summary On Why Fence Paint Keep Washing Off

  • There are several benefits to painting a garden fence. It makes your property looks beautiful and it also prolongs the life of the fence.
  • Several mistakes cause the paint to wash off a fence.
  • The mistakes include painting during the wrong weather and using the wrong paint or techniques.
  • These mistakes are easy to avoid with a little planning, patience and investment in quality paint products.