a run of dip treated wooden fencing

Treating a fence is a necessary routine in any garden, after all, fungal and rot prevention is better than cure. But what is the best method of treating wooden fences, is the best approach to paint or stain a fence? We provide all the answers you will need including a detailed comparison between whether to paint or stain a fence.


Editor’s Note [25.03.2024]:

Our article about treating a fence with paint or stain was originally published on August 9, 2018. Today we have added new sections for the advantages of treating a fence and the aesthetic impact of painting or staining fences. We’ve also added a paint vs stain for fencing treatment comparison, as well as various other updates throughout the article including how to treat a fence while also considering the differences between pressure treated vs dip treated fencing.

Why treating a fence is important?

Any high-quality wooden fence you buy will carry a guarantee against wood rot and fungal decay. That’s because, prior to your purchase, the wood will have undergone one of two types of protective treatment: dip treatment or pressure treatment.

Pressure treated vs dip treated fencing – what is the difference?

Dip treated wood will need re-treating annually for the wood preservative to remain effective, as it only protects the exterior wood. Pressure treated wood, although not for a considerable amount of time, will eventually need re-treating too. There’s no escaping it; at some point or another, all garden wood needs protection from rot, insect attack, wear & tear if it is to remain healthy and maintain its attractive appearance. Therefore, the real question to answer, rather than pressure treated vs dip treated fencing, is whether that wood treatment should be paint or stain.

a white paintbrush resting on top of a tin of white painta white paintbrush resting on top of a tin of white paint

The importance of proper fence care - Advantages of treating wooden fences

Fence treatment is not just about slapping on colour; it is about beefing up your fence against all the rough and tumble of the great outdoors.

Bug barrier

Treating your new fence sets up a barrier to keep wood-munching insects (e.g. beetles and weevils) out. Treating a fence brings peace of mind and a bug-free zone.

Customisable character

With different treatments and finishes, you can make your fence a true reflection of your style. Whether it is bold, subtle, or somewhere in between, your fence can be as unique as you are.

Eco-friendly flair

Love your fence and the planet at the same time. With eco-friendly treatments, you are looking after both in one go. It is the smart, responsible choice for the green-hearted.

Extended lifespan

Treatment is basically the elixir of life for fences. It helps to ward off rot, decay, and other similar things, keeping your fence standing tall for years. Think of it as a barrier against time, wear, and tear. Your fence will be thanking you for this overall and the fence's lifespan will increase.

Fungus fighter

A good treatment keeps your fence clean and clear of any green, mould and fungus. It is the secret to keeping your fence looking fresh and fabulous and protected from wood discolouring fungi.

Kerb appeal king

Boost your garden’s style stakes. A sharp-looking fence can increase your property's value or at least increase the prospects of selling if you ever decide to.


a 5L bottle of Timmersol Treatment with an overlay showing the colour of wood when treateda 5L bottle of Timmersol Treatment with an overlay showing the colour of wood when treated
Timmersol Siberian Larch Stabiliser & Waterproofer - 5 Litres - Click Image to View

Low maintenance life

Paint treatment brings less fixing and more relaxation. A treated fence means you are not constantly out patching garden fence panels. It is a win-win for your weekends and your fence.

Reinforced strength

The treatment strengthens the wood, helping it resist cracks and splits. Your fence will not just look strong; it will be as tough.

Stylish looks

Who does not want a garden that turns heads? A treated fence maintains its swagger, looking sleek and avoids that sad, weather-beaten look.

Weather warrior

Rain or shine, your fence is ready with its own shield. Treatment equips your fence to take on everything from scorching sun to torrential downpours.

How to treat a fence with paint

Use a brush or roller to apply paint, and once on the wood, it offers incredibly effective protection from the elements. There is a far broader range of colours available in the paint than stain, so it can completely transform a tired old run of fencing, your shed or that wooden storage box into almost any colour of your choosing. Paint allows you to customise your fence with the most novel of designs; the only limit is your imagination.

Unlike stain, paint can be applied on top of surfaces that have already been painted, allowing you to choose a new look for your fence run as often as you like. Furthermore, litre for litre, paint will cover a greater surface area than stain, particularly if the wood is highly absorbent.

a tub of treatmenta tub of treatment
Fence Treatment 5ltr Harvest Gold - Click Image to View

The case for stain

Stain is thinner than paint and is exceptionally easy to apply with either a brush or sprayer. Unlike paint, stain will not chip, crack, or peel; it will simply fade and doesn’t restrict your wood’s natural ability to breathe. When it comes to re-staining a fence, things couldn’t be easier. Unlike with paint, there’s no need to sand the wood down; a simple cleaning and reapplication is all that’s required.

There may not be as broad a range of colours to choose (e.g. green stain and blue stain are popular) from but, when all is said and done, what is a wood preservatives (also called wood preservers) purpose: to paint a pretty picture or to enhance the appearance of the wood and protect it? Furthermore, stain is cheaper than paint, only one coat is required and the need for reapplication is less frequent.

a log cabin stained with orangea log cabin stained with orange

Choosing to paint or stain a fence - A comparison table

Are you thinking about treating wooden fences but are torn between paint and stain? Below we consolidate comparisons with a handy table that lays out all the pros and cons, feature by feature, to help you decide whether to paint or stain a fence:






A bold and even finish

A natural, understated look

Application ease

More prep work needed

Easier, less preparation

Colour variety

Wide range of colours

More limited colour range


Often more expensive

Usually more budget-friendly

Drying time

Takes longer to dry

Dries relatively quickly


Longer lasting

More frequent touch-ups needed

Effect on wood texture

Masks wood grain

Enhances wood grain

Environmental impact

Can be higher

Often lower, more natural


Can last years

Shorter, requires reapplication

Maintenance level

Higher, may flake

Lower, tends to fade

Moisture resistance

Good with quality paint

Typically, excellent

UV resistance

Generally superior

Depends on the product


Whether you are looking for a bold statement or a subtle enhancement, each option has its own charm. Explore the details and pick the perfect treatment for your garden's pride and joy, your fence!

Related articles

The following articles from our blog are also recommended reading and all relate to painting, staining, or treatment of fencing or decking:

  1. Deck care and maintenance
  2. Fence paint advice
  3. How to paint a garden fence
  4. How to stop a fence rotting

Conclusion: Make the best choice for your fence

Cost-wise, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. A case for treating wooden fences can be made for either paint or stain.

In terms of application, a stain is marginally easier to apply than paint. Paint and stain will both effectively protect garden fences, but paint has the potential to increase moisture content and cause rot by preventing the wood's natural ability to breathe.

If you want to maximise your fencing’s aesthetic appeal, here’s the choice: for a flamboyant design, it’s paint; to bring out the natural beauty of the timber fence, it’s stain.

So, which is it to be? If you’ll excuse the pun, we’re not ones to sit on the fence, and we plump for stain. After all, who would want to disguise the natural beauty of Buy Fencing Direct’s premium fencing? If you don’t believe us, just click here to view our superb range of garden fences for sale.

To put off the inevitable for as long as possible, choose our pressure treated wooden fence panels and you won’t have to pull out this article for another 15 years. How great does that sound?

a tongue and groove shed stained with painta tongue and groove shed stained with paint

Contact Buy Fencing Direct

Prevention not cure is provided by treating wooden fences (as well as log cabins, sheds, summer houses, storage boxes, etc.) Read the above to learn about treating a fence and whether to paint or stain a fence. If you still have questions about treating wooden fences our team is available to discuss all your garden fencing enquiries. Use these methods to contact Buy Fencing Direct:

  • Phone - 0333 003 0515
  • E-mails – send using our contact form
  • Text chat - use our live chat app to message us in real-time