Can You Paint a Fence With Emulsion?


Do you have some leftover emulsion paint around? You may be wondering if emulsion can be used on your fence. I looked into the efficacy of painting with emulsion and how we can best use emulsion with outdoor projects.

You can paint your fence with emulsion, but make sure it is an exterior-based emulsion. An interior-based emulsion can easily corrode and could destroy your fence when exposed to the weather.

We will talk about why you should and shouldn’t paint with emulsion, the best painting products for your project, and what to do if you have already painted with emulsion (despite popular belief, it’s possible to start over!).

Advantages Of Emulsion Paint:

  • Emulsion paint is less toxic compared to other oil-based paints, which makes the paint more pet and kid-friendly.
  • Most emulsion paints are easy to dry (no more than a couple of hours), without humidity.
  • The paint has a smooth, aesthetically pleasing finish.
  • The color of the emulsion is maintained for longer and is harder to fade away.
  • Emulsion paints are very easy to clean off in small amounts, unlike other types of paint that stick easily when it is dried
  • Plastic emulsion paint can be used for various styles in painting
  • It is very easy to add additional layering of emulsion without ruining the structure of an indoor surface. Source

Disadvantages Of Emulsion

  • Exterior emulsion paint isn’t used as much by home developers, so there isn’t a lot of practical advice on how to use it well.
  • Interior emulsion is very vulnerable to weather conditions. Exterior Emulsion has more protection but isn’t as strong as other types of paint.
  • Emulsion paint is not durable. The paint does not react well with wood outdoors, which ruins the structure of the surface.
  • The paint tends to rust/corrode very easily.
  • Coating the second layer of emulsion paint can prove to be very complicated. Source

What To Look For In Exterior Emulsion Paints:

Exterior emulsion paints are easy to find in most hardware stores. However, recommending a specific type of paint can be difficult, especially since everyone’s needs are different and there isn’t such a thing as a “perfect” emulsion paint.

Here are some things to look for:

  1. Durability: Get some emulsion paint that is more than $50 and has a warranty attached to it in case the emulsion won’t fit your needs.
  2. Low VOCs: Oftentimes, companies will advertise “low VOC” on the front of their paint. Keep an eye out for these, because usually, they can be a lot less toxic than other types of emulsion paint.
  3. Dry Time: Some paints can randomly have longer wait times than most emulsion paints, so keep that in mind.
  4. Does your paint have titanium dioxide? That chemical can help if you’d like your color to last a little bit longer.
  5. Climate Suitability: Depending on your climate, your paint can last more than a decade or as short as one year. If you don’t like the uncertainty of that, look for labels that read “UV Resistant”.

Common Mistakes When Painting With Emulsion:

  1. You get the wrong finish. Be sure to get some sample paint to be sure it will look the way you’d like it.
  2. The paint is too cheap. Without going on the pricier end, you will end up having to get new paint very soon.
  3. Avoid mixing emulsion with mold. Get rid of the mold! The emulsion paint can mix in with the mold and grow more than you can handle.
  4. Prime the wall!
  5. Be extra balanced with your brush. If it is uneven, there is not much you can do to fix it since the material is so thin.

Best Alternative Exterior Paints:

Would you rather not use emulsion? Don’t worry, most people don’t.

A committee of reviewers analyzed the best types of emulsion paint based on the style, practicality, and value of the paint. Here is what they found:

Best Overall Exterior PaintBEHR Premium Plus Exterior Paint and Primer in One at Home Depot “This paint and primer combo resists moisture, mildew, fading, and stains, keeping your home looking pristine.”

Best BudgetDiamond Brite Oil Base All-Purpose Enamel Paint at Amazon “Apply this oil-based paint to wood, concrete, masonry, or even metal.”

Best for Wood: Valspar Duramax Satin Exterior Tintable Paint at Lowe’s “This tintable paint resists mold, mildew, and algae, keeping wood in pristine condition.”

Best Color Selection: Farrow & Ball Exterior Eggshell Paint at Farrow-ball.com “Choose from Farrow & Ball’s 148 stunning shades in a silky eggshell finish.” Source

Best Outdoor Painting Alternatives:

  • Acrylic Paint- This type of paint lasts a long time, and protects your fence from pests and most types of weather conditions. Most use a type of acrylic paint for their fence projects because of how readily available it is. Look for acrylic latex paint as that type of paint gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Source
  • External Masonry Paint- Masonry Paint is very readily used for those who are living in more adverse climates. This type has extra moisture to protect against the humidity and looks very aesthetically pleasing. However, the paint can chip away really easily so it’s not the best long term. Source

Pro Tip: Many have found that using the Dulux brand of exterior paint to be the best for their money. The brand has many different types of exterior paints that vary depending on what you feel like your fence needs the most. Source

Dulux specializes in brand new wood or wood that was painted recently. Source

What If You Painted With Interior Emulsion Already:

If you painted with interior emulsion, please address it. The paint is permeable to moisture and if left unattended, it will break down through bacterial and chemical action. It should be okay overnight, but the sooner the better.

You will need to get some emulsion remover, a non-abrasive pad or brush, and another type of durable paint (and it is best to repaint as soon as you can).

Each emulsion remover is different, so rely on the label to get the best process on how to remove the paint. However, here is a typical process for convenience.

  1. Get some emulsion remover and spread it to every part of the paint.
  2. Scrub it off thoroughly using a non-abrasive pad or brush.
  3. Give 15-30 minutes for the solution to soak and penetrate the paint.
  4. Wash off using the pad or brush
  5. Repaint using exterior emulsion or the paints listed above. Source

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