If you want elegance and sophistication in your yard, try staining your fence black and let the greenery pop! #blackfence

Well, my fence is 17 years old and the bottom sections are starting to rot out, so it won’t be too long before it needs replacing… a perfect time to test out my vision!

If it works, my new black fence will be a gorgeous backdrop to my garden, it will hide the wood rot at the bottom, AND it will prolong the life of the fence boards for a bit longer.

If it doesn’t work…  well, I’ll only have to put up with it for a couple of years.

(I wasn’t really concerned that it wouldn’t work)

Let me show you what I started with:

pressure treated fence before

A pretty standard, 17 year old, pressure treated wood fence.

Over the years the boards have dried and shrunk leaving small gaps between, the lawn has risen and some of the boards have rotted down where they have been covered, and the grey you see was where the girls’ playground used to be, so a small painted area remains.

We did pressure wash the fence once a few years ago, but the grey “sloughed” wood has returned.

pressure treated fence with boston ivy

This is the fence on the other side of my yard.  Totally livable, but not what my Pinterest dreams were made of.

Time for an update!

Staining your fence black

Prepping your fence for stain

 1.  Clear it with your neighbours.  Even if you don’t really like them (I love mine), there’s no point in creating (or increasing) animosity.  Give them a heads-up of your plans and let them know you’ll do your best to control overspray.  It’s inevitable with a pressure washer, but it really shouldn’t do anymore than water their lawn.

 2.  Put your dirty clothes on and get out the safety glasses…. you will NOT be as clean as your fence boards when this is done.

 3.  Trim your lawn to get as much grass/dirt away from the bottom of your boards.  You don’t have to stain all the way to the bottom, the lawn will cover it again eventually, but if you’re going to do it, do your best right?

 4.  Get your pressure washer out!  I used to have a 1900psi electric pressure washer and it did a great job – so don’t feel you have to rent a big machine.  This year, with my garage makeover etc, I did splurge and buy myself a 3100psi gas pressure washer… so I went to work with that.  I should tell you, it took 4 tanks of gas to do two sides of my yard, so have your gas-can ready.

 5.  I used a 15° pressure nozzle tip – it was aggressive and did fray the wood slightly.  I would have used the 25° tip, but it was clogged and unusable.   Spray your boards from about 18″ away using a smooth up and down pattern.  (or with the grain if your boards go horizontally).

pressure washing your fence

If you stagger, or stop and go back over a section, you will see pressure washing lines in the wood.  You won’t see these through your black stain, but if you change your mind and decide to stop with just the cleaning, these lines will annoy you until they slough off.

What an awesome difference already eh?!

Everything that was previously on the fence ended up on me. 😂.  I mentioned the dirt right?

 6.  Finish your yard and let the fence dry completely – at least 24 hours.

pressure washed fence


The pressure washer beat the hell out of the boston ivy, but that stuff is un-killable (I’ve tried), so I’m not too worried about it filling in again quickly.

pressure washed fence

An AMAZING difference!!  I really was tempted to stop here.

pressure washed fence

It looks almost new!

pressure washing your fence

Okay, willpower… we started this to get the fence to black.

What kind of stain should you use on a fence?

This is to your taste; do you want to see some wood grain showing through the colour?  If so, then you’ll want a transparent or semi-transparent stain.  Do you only want to see colour when looking at your fence? If this is a yes, then go with a solid stain (which is what I used) or a paint.

What is the difference between painting and staining a fence?

Pro: Paint sits on the surface of the wood and makes it much easier to get a more uniform colour when covering your fence, it also tends to be less expensive than stain.

Con: often you will need to prime the fence before painting, so any money saved in buying paint will likely get eaten up in purchasing the primer.

Pro:  Stain soaks into the wood and can be re-coated to increase the depth of the colour.  Stains come in solid colours now, so you have the benefit of long-lasting colour with the extra saturation. Stain fades faster than paint, but unlike paint, it won’t peel, crack or blister.  Overall, stain lasts longer than paint

Con:  is more expensive than paint


 7.  ;Choose your paint/stain.  You have at least 24 hours after pressure washing before staining your fence black (or any other colour), so drive around with colour chips and see if any other houses have a colour you like.  I knew I wanted a warm black – one that wouldn’t show blue – so I chose Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Solid stain in Black Beauty.

Do you need to sand your fence before staining?

 8.  I cheated and didn’t do this (which I may regret someday) but you should give the fence boards a light sanding with 80 grit sandpaper.

I read reviews on various stain options for fences and decks and while Arborcoat didn’t rank the highest, I had used it years ago on my girls’ playground and was really pleased with its performance.  Zero fading – it was impressive.

What about getting paint onto the neighbour’s side of the fence?

I know, I was totally scared of that too; but I told both neighbours that if I did get paint on their side I would happily come over and pressure wash it off.  Easy fix!

Having written that, I did decide to try using a roller to apply the black stain for fear of over-spray from my paint sprayer.

Staining your fence black

Can you apply stain with a roller?

You’ll want a roller with a really deep nap – your fence boards won’t be perfectly straight, will have knots and holes and raised grain everywhere, so a roller that will hold a lot of paint and can reach into crevices is imperative.

I put the chicklets to work helping me and this side of my yard took the three of us about 2.5 hours to stain.

(With permission) I checked my neighbour’s side of the fence and … zero stain on their side!!

Hard to believe it looks like this on my side:


staining your fence black, black fence

We left the top of the fence and post-tops natural since that was what was there before and I was the only one that wanted black.

What is the easiest way to paint/stain your fence?

I wrote that it took the girls and I 2.5 hours to stain that side of the yard…. well, that’s the short fence – the other side of my yard the fence continues down to a gate that is at the side of the house.  More area to cover + two teens that didn’t want to help anymore = paint sprayer time.

staining your fence black, black fence

THIS is where I was really concerned about overspray – with ¼-½” gaps between every board I was sure I’d be over at my neighbour’s pressure washing their entire side to make up for my mess.

But it was 32º and I didn’t want to invest 10 hours in rolling – so I risked it.

Guess what?

This is their side of the fence after spraying the fence black:


Seriously!  I think the key is to keep your paint sprayer straight when applying the stain to your fence.  Any temptation to rotate it to get into cracks and crevices will likely get paint on the opposite side.  I worked an up and down pattern, about 12″ from the fence and I was done in 1/3 of the time of rolling it!  Hands down spraying is the best way to stain a fence!

staining your fence black, black fence

staining your fence black, black fence

I placed a board over my plants and butt-up against the fence so I could spray as close to the bottom as possible without painting every rock in the garden.

If I didn’t have a leak in my paint sprayer, I think I would have come out almost perfect.  As it was, my hostas got a few new freckles.

And I came out almost as dirty as after pressure washing 😂

Was it worth it?

Yes, yes, YES!!!

staining your fence black, black fence

I’ll plant a vine or two and soften the look a bit, but do you see what I mean when I say that painting/staining your fence black makes everything around it pop?  The grass is SO GREEN!

peony against a black fence

Flowers just GLOW!

Beyond the elegant aesthetics of having a black fence and lush greenery, I’ve just added years to the life of my fence!  (Unless it completely rots on the neighbour’s side)

We left the top of the fence and post-tops natural since that was what was there before and I was the only one that wanted black.


We left the top of the fence and post-tops natural since that was what was there before and I was the only one that wanted black.

Thrilled, pleased, ecstatic and clearly boasting – I love my “new” fence!

Have a great one!


One Response

  1. I’m so glad to find this, because I’ve been deciding if I want to be this adventurous. I have a lot of fence.