Vinyl fences last well and don’t need a lot of maintenance, but if you don’t like how yours looks, you’ve probably asked the question – could I paint that? Paint is a quick and easy way to make almost any surface look better, but vinyl isn’t the easiest surface to work with, because it’s smooth and plastic-based. That might leave you unsure about painting it.
Vinyl fences have grown in popularity in recent years and they offer plenty of benefits, as they are much lower maintenance than wooden fences. You will probably find that your vinyl fence looks great year after year, but what happens when you want to change its appearance?
Can you paint a vinyl fence? You can paint a vinyl fence, but there’s quite a lot of work involved. Because vinyl is non-porous and very smooth, most kinds of paint will not adhere well to its surface. That means you’ll need to spend quite a long time preparing the surface, and you’ll need to choose a suitable paint.
How Do You Prepare a Vinyl Fence?
Before you can paint your vinyl fence, you need to do some thorough preparation to make the surface porous and textured. You should start by cleaning it, ideally with a power washer, to strip off all the dirt. You can add vinegar to the power washer to remove grease. It’s then time to start sanding the vinyl.
Before you do any of this, you should check whether your fence is still under warranty, because painting a fence is quite likely to void this warranty. If you do have a warranty, it’s generally best not to paint the fence.
If you’re going to carry on with painting, you’ll need to let the fence fully dry, and then you can start sanding down its surface. You should use a low-grit sandpaper to begin with to create a good texture, but work gently so you don’t create major damage to the surface of the vinyl. Avoid using power tools, and wear a protective face covering.
Move onto a higher grit sandpaper and again sand the surface thoroughly until it is fully matte. When you’ve finished, wipe the surface down with a damp cloth to remove all the dust, and then you can add the primer.
An epoxy-based primer is likely to give you the best results, as it will help the paint stick properly. Don’t try to put your paint directly onto the vinyl without primer; it is very unlikely to stick. Make sure your primer is suitable for outdoor use, and allow it to completely dry before you move on to the next step.
When you’ve thoroughly coated the vinyl fence, you can sand it gently once more and wipe it down one final time. You can now apply the paint. Don’t skip the primer, because your paint will really struggle to adhere without it.
How Do You Paint a Vinyl Fence?
When the primer is dry, you can start applying your paint. Note that you must use an appropriate paint, such as acrylic or epoxy, or there is a high risk that the paint will crack and peel off later. Apply the paint in thin coats, allowing plenty of drying time between each coat.
Many people advise that you use light colors only for your vinyl fence, because this will help it reflect the heat. This minimizes how much the paint will expand and contract, especially in summer, which should help it to last better overall.
It’s important to work slowly and carefully when you are dealing with paint on vinyl. This gives the best chance of the paint adhering well. However, there are still other problems – which we will cover shortly.
If you have plenty of paint options, it’s a good idea to look for some paint that is resistant to mold, as this will look better for longer. It should also protect the vinyl to an extent.
You can use spray paint on your vinyl fence if you choose to, but make sure you stand a good distance away from it, and only spray the surface thinly. You do not want a thick layer of spray paint, or it will bubble and peel off. You will probably need multiple coats of paint, especially if you are trying to significantly change the color of your vinyl fence.
What are the Drawbacks of Painting a Vinyl Fence?
Painting a vinyl fence can be problematic for several reasons. One of the first and most significant is that it will make your fence require a lot more maintenance. Vinyl is a long-lasting material that retains its appearance year after year – but paint does not. Even if you choose high-quality paint, it won’t last forever.
That means you’ll likely need to repaint your vinyl fence every few years, particularly because it is hard to get paint to adhere to it in the first place. The paint will quickly wear out and start to look shabby, so you’ll frequently need to sand it down and repaint it. This is quite frustrating, especially if you are used to being able to leave your vinyl fence alone.
You may also find that your vinyl doesn’t last for as long, because you have sanded away some of the surface. This is one of the reasons that painting it may invalidate your warranty – which is a further drawback if your fence is still covered by this agreement. Avoid painting the fence if possible for this reason.
If you have decided against painting your fence, there are other things you can do to change its appearance. For example, you could plant some bushes or climbing vines around the edges of the fence, covering up the color.
A lot of people opt not to paint vinyl fences because of how difficult it is to get a good finish and how much more maintenance a painted fence requires. However, if you really want to paint your vinyl fence, you can do so by thoroughly sanding the surface down, using a high-quality primer, and then painting it with a tough exterior paint.