Urban Slate Fence

On The Fence

Author: Lauren Coleman

Our garden fence fell down last year. According to our lovely next door neighbours it had been installed over twenty years ago so it had a good innings. Over the last few months we’ve had a resident pheasant strolling through all our gardens who seems to enjoy limbering over the awkwardly positioned wooden slats. Well he might like it but I think it looks bloody awful, so one of our summer tasks is to replace all eight panels. Hmm, that sounds cheap doesn’t it?

As always, and much to James’ annoyance I often work back to front on these type of projects, and while he’s probably thinking about panels, posts and post caps, I’m thinking about the important stuff, like what colour to paint the fence.

In our first house we bought one of those paint sprayers and the results were catastrophic. There was more paint on the patio doors and grass than the fence so since then I’ve always used a super wide brush to lash on my stain. I utterly detest this job though. When we replaced the panels in our last courtyard it took way longer than I anticipated to paint just two fences. Eight is going to be a total whinge-fest.

Anyway on to the colour. First up the dark fences.

The Darks

After we featured Hannah’s amazing summer house on RMS several years ago I was gutted I didn’t paint my fences a similar off-black shade when we gave our old courtyard a makeover, so much so I went dark with Cuprinol Urban Slate when I painted my garden shed. Admittedly it looks nowhere near as good as Hannah’s garden room but it’ll do nicely.

The Lights

However I wonder whether with the shed being a darker shade the fences may look better in a contrasting shade. In the inspiration images I found all the light coloured garden fences, trellis and structures seem to have been painted in Farrow and Ball exterior paint. I would anticipate they may need more maintenance than a regular stain or dark garden paint.

Left To Their Own Devices

If you buy panels and trellis made from pressure treated timber, whose to say you have to even paint it? I actually really love the look of weather beaten silvered wood so maybe the easiest option is just to leave it open to the elements.

Tips For Painting Fences

  • If you do use one of those sprayers then protect EVERYTHING around it with plastic sheets
  • Read the instructions clearly. Some formulations develop a water resistant finish after 24 hours making applying a second coat a bit of a mare. If you’re not going to be able to give your fence two coats in one day then go back over a panel rather than progressing to the next
  • Try to paint on a temperate day. If it’s too hot (chance would be a fine thing) then the stain or paint may dry too quickly and go patchy. If it’s too windy you can end up with an uneven finish. If it’s wet then as you know that’s not helpful either.
  • Clean down the fence before applying any colour to remove any dirt, debris or mildew.
  • Anyone else replacing their fence panels? What kind of design are you going for and what colour do you think you’ll paint them?

    Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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    23 thoughts on “On The Fence

    1. We are part way through a garden renovation and I’m undecided about whether to paint our new fence or not. We’ve gone for horizontal slats, like the second to last picture you posted, but ours are wider slats. It looks good, but there is a lot of it so I’m not sure if it looks ‘too much’. But I also don’t know what colour to go for if I did paint it. We have decking in a mid grey composite, so I’m thinking I might just do the bits around the decking in a dark grey to sort of define that as an area and leave the rest around the planted areas untreated.

      1. I think that sounds like a good idea Claire. Like you, I’m worried about painting the fence when there’s so much of it!

    2. Ooh both these options look lovely Lauren.
      We have a tiny (TINY!) garden with mismatched 6 foot fences surrounding. We painted them all pale blue (cuprinol coastal mist) last year and one year one they look great. The fences blend into the sky (or will if we ever get blue skies, come on spring!) And they look lovely with the green grass and the pink climbing roses.

    3. Some of our fence fell down in the storm, we managed to avoid having to replace it by just replacing the posts at the back which had rotted. The whole parameter of our garden is fenced and we are hoping to add fencing to the sides of the house so it is more enclosed for our daughter. At the minute it is stained a standard brown and it needs re done. I’m tempted to go a nice sage green but my God the effort it would take!!

      1. I know Helen, such a mission, but you’ll be so pleased with yourself when you’ve done it. Although there are always fifteen other things to do instead!

    4. We replaced most of our fence over the past few years and I painted it all last summer, which was about 18 panels. Our garden is taking YEARS and has been a nightmare (I dug up a full skip and 15 rubble bags full of junk they’d buried in the garden last year… all I’d wanted was to lay a bit of turf. Even found an entire seat from a car and two sinks. There are areas where they’ve clearly dug a hole, laid a tarpaulin in it and smashed loads of bottles into it. Why would anybody ever do that?? Every time I go into my garden I can quite easily pick up a handful of broken glass and rusty nails from the earth…) I had to work around the baby’s naps so it took a very long time. I did it in a dark brown which I now hate and want black, so much that I’m considering doing it all again. The garden is a lot less overgrown now so should be much easier this time round. Has anybody used Cuprinol black ash? I can’t tell whether it’s the right kind of black but I don’t want to spend lots of money on expensive paint for a fence. We also have the cheap panels with concrete posts and gravel boards, but the concrete is unpainted so stands out like a sore thumb. I hate it. Has anybody painted the concrete with fence paint? Would that even work and would it look awful in black? Those dark inspiration photos look amazing.

      1. We have used black ash, afraid I don’t have a photo but it looks great! I wouldn’t say it’s a dark black and dried a dark grey shade on our fence.

    5. We’ve got black horizontal slats and I love it! Even though it took over my life to paint it 🙄 we saved about £1000 off our garden landscape by painting them ourselves.. But tbh.. In hindsight I would have just paid them to do it!!

      Needs a little bit of a touch up this year but the colour really made our garden look massive and it’s really not! The green against the black is 👌

      1. Love greenery against the black Jo. It stands out so much, and so does anything in a lovely purply shade too.

    6. Ugh… I am DREADING the summer job of replacing and painting the fences. Our garden is a complete mess. I’ll definitely come back to this for inspo though Lauren, when Lee is threatening me with the orangey cuprinol!

      1. We’ve got orangey fences because my husband will not wait once he decides that he ‘needs’ to do something. I wanted a sage green colour, Wilko do a nice one, but it wasn’t in stock and he was determined to start painting so went off to B&Q and bought paint himself. I’m trying to convince him that we should spend more time on researching options instead of just making spur of the moment decisions, I admire his enthusaism but not always his choices!

    7. Thank you for the inspiration Lauren (how come I can never find these nice pictures on pinterest?), we have a courtyard garden and the fence all needs replacing and it needs landscaping and to be honest I am not quite sure where to start but these pics are just what I was thinking of so thank you 🙂

    8. We were forced into replacing our fences 18 months ago when they blew down in a storm… our garden backs onto some woods favoured by dog walkers and we kept getting loose dogs making a break for it through our garden! As the earth behind our garden is higher than the bottom of the fence, all the old wooden posts were rotten so we went for the concrete posts and gravel boards too. I really wanted horizontal boards but actually I think the privacy aspect would have meant they weren’t a good idea (the footpath to the woods runs down the side of our garden so we need a decent solid border!). Like Jade above, I’m not a fan of how the concrete looks, it’s a big contrast to the panels which we had dipped in dark brown (other options were orangey or green – nope!). It means they shouldn’t need painting… thank god as there are about ten panels, but also means that painting them seems like unnecessary effort! I do wonder if a lighter colour would make the concrete look less obvious…

      My real issue is the fence that is our neighbour’s boundary and hence their responsibility… it’s falling down and really shabby now and could do with a good paint – but how do I subtly mention this to them…?!

      1. We get on really well with our neighbours and they can’t really see our ramshackled fence as they have so many tall shrubs against it, however they did bring around the brochure of the fence panels they’d had fitted to the bottom of the garden to give us a bit of a nudge 😉

    9. The fence in our back garden is in fact our neighbour’s fence and they replaced it last year. I quite like the bare wood now it have faded from yellow to pale with a hint of natural grey in it. In a couple of months I will be moving to a new house where the fencing is mismatched and quite shabby, so I think some painting will be on the cards. The fences are currently brown. I prefer the lighter look and the light inspo pictures are lovely.

      I used a pale blue Wilko’s garden paint on my shed a few years ago and it has lasted really well. I much prefer it to Cuprinol. I won’t be going for blue fences, but I love the pop of colour from the shed.

    10. Claire, I’m really impressed with Wilko garden paint. I’ve painted quite a few bits and pieces with it and it’s really cheap too!

    11. I feel for you Lauren we redid the whole garden last year. I struggled to find the right colour and was going to go for F&B elephants breath (which was going to cost a pretty penny 🤦🏻‍♀️) anyway whilst painting the first fence with a tester pot my friend called round. She recommended I went for Cuprinol muted clay as this is the exact same colour as elephants breath. You can check it out here on my Pinterest page. https://pin.it/m6jzwhrsatnmof best of luck x

    12. Our fence panels are the normal boring cheap kind, all painted black as black can be. It kind of disappears into the distance and makes all my plants really stand out, the office/shed and house are painted in Cuprinol Muted Clay and matching masonry paint. Dark fences are def the way forward.

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