The quickest way to paint a long fence is to spray it. While you could use a handy electric spray gun, you’ll be constantly refilling the tank. An airless spray gun, that sucks paint directly from a paint tin, is much faster. The hiring costs for a weekend are about $250, so it’s only worthwhile for large jobs. You’ll be so fast, it’s worth doing a few other jobs such as a neighbour’s fence, the shed or even your house!
Gather your supplies
Cabot’s water-based Exterior Varnish Stain
Airless spray gun (we hired a Wagner SF31
2 (or more) buckets
Small paint roller
Mask everything you don’t want painted, even if it’s not in the direct line of the gun, as there’ll be droplets of paint in the air that go everywhere.
- Step 1: Lightly sand fence using electric sander. You’re not after a baby-bottom finish, but need to remove major splinters, flaking old finish and dirt.
- Step 2: Set up spraying equipment and put suction strainer into a bucket. Stir stain or finish well, then pour into bucket, covering strainer. Turn on machine and set to priming position to remove air from paint supply line.
- Step 3: Turn onto spray and adjust pressure to fairly low, so you don’t waste paint and get so much excess paint in the air that you look as though you’ve spent 6 months in a tanning salon. About 1000psi (about 70bar or 7000kPa) is a good place to start. If your paint is viscous, you may need to use a higher pressure.
- Step 4: Before painting fence, spray into a waste bucket to clear lines of previous cleaning fluids until colour of stain comes through.
- Step 5: You’ll need a helping hand to hold a large sheet of cardboard or thin piece of MDF behind the fence. This will stop the oversprayed paint changing the colour of your neighbour’s house or washing on the line. Your helper will need to keep moving with you along fence. Make sure they’re wearing goggles and breathing protection, too. Place a drop sheet under both sides of fence, as well, because cardboard will drip paint as you go. Start spraying. In an open fence such as this, spray at an acute angle to cover an edge and face in 1 pass, while limiting amount of overspray. You’ll need to spray both sides of fence as overspray will discolour other side anyway. If paint runs, have a small roller handy to spread paint evenly. Often with a porous surface, such as old fencing, 1 coat of stain is enough. However, if you find it isn’t, re-coat as necessary, allowing to dry between coats.
You’ll also need
- Always test spray a piece of scrap first to make sure everything is in working order.
- If you can, adjust pressure or volume control so the right amount of paint sprays. Also adjust the nozzle for the desired spray pattern (vertical, horizontal or round).
- Hold spray gun or can between 150 and 300mm from surface, and don’t sweep the gun from the elbow, rather keep it face-on and perpendicular to surface.
- In most cases, spray horizontally and overlap previous passes by 30-50 per cent for an even coat.
- To apply paint, press the trigger a fraction of a second after you start moving and release trigger just before you stop moving.
- Always keep the spray gun or can moving while spraying. If you stop or change direction while painting, the paint will run.
- Be patient and always apply several thin coats, rather than one thick coat, or the paint will run.
- Spray open work, such as slats, lace and pickets, at an acute angle to reduce the open area and limit overspray. Don’t thin the paint too much with solvent.