Fence Refinishing in San Diego: Painting Vs. Staining.

Has your fence lost its sparkle and appeal due to exposure to damaging weather elements? Indeed, the pounding rains, scorching sun, and fluctuating temperatures can all lead to rapid deterioration of the finishing on your fence. A regular refinishing and touch-up schedule is crucial to keeping your fence looking tip-top and the wood protected from the elements.

There’re two main options when it comes to refinishing wooden fences: Painting and staining. Choosing between the two options can be tricky if you don’t know what each of them has to offer. Here is a quick look at these two options in regards to the following factors:

Color and Texture Options

Paints are generally available in a wide range of colors and textures to choose from, and you can get as creative or wild as your imaginations allow. Additionally, paint comes in a variety of textures and sheens, such as glossy, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, matte and flat. Your painter would be able to advise on the best sheen, but semi-gloss is typically one of the most common outdoor sheens.

If you choose to stain your fence, you will have a slight limitation when choosing the colors. Stain is generally either clear, semi-transparent or solid. The semi-transparent and transparent stains often don’t significantly alter the natural color of the wood. And you would typically see wood grains and knots showing through.

If you need some color options with the stain, then you should probably go for the solid stain, but still, your colors will be limited to the natural wood and earthy tones. There is a slight difference in texture between oil-based and water-based stains, but there isn’t much sheen differentiation.


The amount of work and effort required to apply the stain and paint primarily depends on the condition of the surface. But given the same conditions, it requires more effort and time to apply paint compared to stain. Both painting and staining require a clean surface for application. However, painting requires a significant amount of surface prep –you will need to strip off the old loose paint, sand the surface, and apply a primer before painting.

Applying the stain is a little forgiving since most of the time, you will only need to give the surface a good pressure washing and it will be ready for staining. Unless of course, the surface has some loose old stain or sealer, in which case it has to be removed before restaining.

Level Of protection

The choice between the paint and stain is really a compromise between natural wood beauty and surface protection. Stains generally get absorbed into the wood and don’t block the natural beauty of the wood (except solid stains). However, their level of surface protection is slightly lower compared to paints.

Painting, on the other hand, creates a solid barrier on top of the wood that completely locks out moisture, pests, and other damaging elements. As such, it offers a slightly more superior level of surface protection compared to staining. Paint is also commonly used on older fences because it’s good at covering surface imperfections as well and protecting the wood against further damage by the elements.


Paint tends to last longer than stain, but often shows much more noticeable signs of wear and tear. When paint fails, you will notice peeling, cracking, flaking, bubbling and/or chalking. While stain doesn’t last as long, it ages gracefully with progressively signs of fading that are not quite obvious. In other words, you will need more touch-ups with paint and you will need to re-stain much sooner than you will need to repaint.

The Bottom Line

Both stain and paint are great options for fence refinishing in San Diego. But if you’re looking to show off the natural beauty of your newly installed fence, staining might be the best option. However, if you’re looking for a wider color variety or want to cover up some surface imperfection on an older fence, then repainting is your best pick.

Whichever option you decide, Peek Brothers Painting can help you refinish your fence. Simply give us a call on (858) 505-1361 to get started.