How Much Does it Cost to Paint or Stain a Fence?

Typical Range:

$750 - $4,250

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated July 28, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Fences add value to your property by enhancing security, defining boundaries, and increasing curb appeal. Proper fence maintenance, like painting and staining, is important to maintain visual appeal and condition. On average, it costs homeowners $1,700 to paint or stain their fence, or between $300 and $2,800. The price can climb as high as $4,800.

Average Cost to Paint or Stain a Fence

Low CostAverage CostHigh Cost

Cost Factors 

Many factors go into calculating the cost of painting or staining your fence, with the biggest factor being the size. A taller fence with more square footage will be more expensive than a small fence. The average cost to paint or stain a fence is $3 to $14 per linear foot or $1 to $3 per square foot.

The method for how you wish to paint including how many coats you need will factor into the price. And, if you choose to outsource the labor, you need to account for the cost and time.

Fence Height and Length 

The height and length of your fence will greatly impact the cost of painting and staining. Larger areas will require more materials. On the low end, a 4-foot fence can cost an average of $2 to $7 per linear foot while on the high end, a 12-foot fence can cost an average of $7.50 to $15 per linear foot.

Larger area fences will also require more time to complete the project. This is especially important to consider if you’re looking to hire someone to paint for you, as you’ll need to factor in the cost of labor.

Don’t rely on guesswork for calculating the cost of the fence. Take accurate measurements so you can get the best estimate. 

Number of Coats

In most cases, you will only need to apply one coat of stain. Many people opt for two coats for longevity and to add depth. Two coats will double the cost of materials and labor. With paint, you will need to apply a coat of primer and two coats of paint.

Another consideration is whether you’ll be painting one side or both sides of the fence. Many fences sit on a property line and whoever installed the fence is responsible for the upkeep, but that’s not always information that is known.

No matter who owns it, it’s always best to paint or stain both sides to maintain good condition. Consider splitting the cost with your neighbor or working together to come up with a solution for the fence maintenance. 

Painting Method

How you choose to apply the paint or stain can influence the price. Paint sprayers are more efficient from a labor standpoint but will use more paint compared to using rollers and brushes. However, if you don’t already own an airless sprayer, you will need to rent or purchase one. Utilizing rollers and brushes will be more time-intensive but will save you some money on the cost of materials. 

Labor Costs 

Professional contractors will charge you in one of two ways for the job, either per linear foot or per square foot of surface area. On average, a homeowner pays $8 per linear foot or between $3 to $17 per linear foot. You will typically pay 60% more for the project by hiring a professional. Most contractors can complete the job in three to five days, depending on the size of the project.

Prep Work

It’s not often that you’ll be able to get simply start painting and staining on day one. There is some prep work required before you begin. You need to make sure your fence is free from obstructions which could include trimming loose vegetation or mowing and weeding. Your fence will also need cleaning to ensure a fresh canvas for your paint or stain.

Another factor to consider is repairs such as holes, cracks, or structural defects. Fence repair cost is likely to include the cost of labor. On average, fence repair costs $15 to $35 per linear foot or between $250 to $750.

Staining vs. Painting

$20 to $80 per gallon$20 to $50 per gallon
Covers more, making stain vs. paint material prices about the sameMore needed to cover a surface than paint
Can chip and peel over time, requiring old paint removal before recoatingFades over time, but can add a new coat on top of old
Extra preparation can add up to 50% to the project costNo extra cost to prepare a previously stained surface
Could require two or more coatsOnly needs one coat
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Cost to Paint or Stain a Fence by Fence Type 

Overall, painting or staining your fence will run $300 to $4,800 which includes preparation, the cost of materials, and labor. The type of fence you have, along with overall length and height, will have a major impact on that price.

Average costs for fence type per linear foot, including wrought iron and wood picket
Photo: Joshua Olsen / Unsplash

Wrought Iron

Painting a wrought iron fence costs, on average, $5 to $12 per linear foot or between $750 to $2,300. While wrought iron is a more attractive and decorative type of fence, it is one of the more difficult to paint, which means it’s best to hire a professional.

A pro will first start by removing any rust with a wire brush. Depending on the condition of the metal, they may apply a coat of rust-proof primer before the final coat, increasing the cost of the job by up to $1,250.

There are two popular methods: brushing and spraying. Spraying is faster, so the labor rate will be lower. However, it uses more material and the workers need to be careful not to spray objects nearby.

Wood Picket

The cost to paint or stain a wood picket fence is $2 to $5 per linear foot. It is important to remove any loose or chipping paint before applying the new coat. If the old paint is in poor condition, there may be an extra cost to the preparation.

If the fence is new or was previously stained, staining is often the better choice. Staining does not need as much preparation, so you can avoid the extra cost. Picket fences tend to be shorter (48 inches or less), so they are typically less expensive to refinish.

Privacy Fence 

Privacy fences are usually a minimum of 5 feet, so they will need more stain. The intricacy of the woodwork will influence the price with the average cost between $2 to $10 per linear foot. If your design has lattice at the top or scrolling woodwork, the labor price goes up.

Metal and Aluminum 

Decorative aluminum fences are similar to wrought iron when it comes to painting. The cost is a little less at $4 to $10 per linear foot and could require less preparation as the material doesn’t rust. You’ll need to remover any loose paint before repainting or staining. You should go with an oil-based paint when painting outdoor metal surfaces such as a fence.

Steel Pipe

Steel pipe fences, often found in rural areas on homes with acreages or large yards, can cost $3 to $10 per linear foot to paint on average. Professionals will often use painting mittens to do the work which makes the labor go quickly. The painter slides the mitten onto their hand, dips the mitten into the paint, and rubs it onto the metal.

Shadow Box 

Due to their alternating slats, these are one of the more labor-intensive designs to paint and therefore one of the costliest at $4 to $14 per linear foot. Preparation is also difficult as scraping any loose paint off can be tricky, due to the difficulty of working between the alternating boards. If it needs a lot of preparation, it will increase the price.

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DIY vs. Hiring a Pro 

Painting or staining a fence is a messy, time-consuming job. It is also one that doesn't need vast expertise, so it is possible to DIY. Having the right equipment is key. Knowing the right brushes or rollers to use and when to spray versus brush is important but the cost can add up quickly. 

You also want to consider the time as it will take you significantly longer to DIY the job compared to hiring a professional. If you’re completing the job on the weekends, you can expect to spend about a month or so completing it.

Hiring a painting pro will not only get the job done quickly but correctly as well. Professional painters usually include a limited warranty to come back and do a touch-up for any missed spots.


How much does fence stain and paint cost?

Paint is more expensive at up to $80 per gallon versus stain at up to $50 per gallon. If a professional is doing the job, usually the materials are part of the total price.

How much stain/paint do you need?

The size of your fence will be the biggest variable when calculating how much material you need. As a rule of thumb, one gallon of paint will cover 200 square feet or 33 linear feet, and one gallon of stain will cover 160 square feet or 27 linear feet. The chart below shows what is required to cover a 6-foot fence.

Per Gallon ofSquare FeetLinear Feet

What colors of stain or paint are available?

Natural colors ranging from light browns to greys are the most common for wood. White is also a popular choice. Metal is traditionally black, although white is also common. Look around your neighborhood and see what others are doing. You don't want to deviate too far from what others have. Your Home Owners Association should you have one, may also have rules that cover color options.

When is the right time to stain your new fence?

Wood needs to dry before staining. Wait six to eight weeks after installation before staining your new fence.

Is it better to paint or stain? 

In most cases, staining is a better option than painting. While stain does tend to fade and require reapplication, you won't need to do so for up to eight years, but it lasts about three years on average. But since stain doesn’t peel or crack, reapplying requires much less preparation compared to painting. It will just need a quick clean, which you can do with a power washer before reapplying.

Does paint or stain last longer? 

Typically, painting lasts longer than staining. Paint typically lasts five to 10 years compared to stain, which lasts one to eight years. However, the prep work associated with reapplying stain compared to repainting is much less, with paint requiring more preparation.

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