How to Paint Chain Link Fences: A Step-by-Step Guide

There are so many different ways on how you can paint a chain-link fence. I combined all of these methods into one, comprehensive process that will be the most beneficial for your fence.

1. Identify The Type Of Chain Link Fence

Chain link fences with a plastic or vinyl coating are not the best type of fencing to paint because it can be difficult to get the paint to stick to the fence for any significant length of time (and with any durability). You will need to remove all the existing coats of paint before you paint your new coat, which is very tough to do on chain link.

If you do not remove the paint down to the last coat, it can react with the other coatings of the paint and make you repaint the surface almost immediately after you put it on.

Many have found that hiring a professional is better than trying to do this themselves, especially when there are existing layers of paint on the fence already.

2. Create A Clean Work Environment

Since we are working with a chain-link fence, there are some extra precautions we need to make to allow the fence to look good and for everyone involved in the process to remain safe. Please exercise caution by performing these steps thoroughly:

Things To Look Out For Outside The Fence:

  • Clear off any plants or weeds outside of the chain-link fence as the chemicals you will use will affect the whole yard if cross-contaminated.
  • Be sure to trim any grass near your chain link fence.
  • Place sheets or newspapers along the borders of your chain link fence.
  • Get any kids or animals out of the way while you are painting your chain link fence.
  • If you do not want to paint the posts on the chain-link fence, use masking tapes to avoid getting loose paint on the fence.

Things To Look For On The Fence:

  • Please wear a mask if there is a lot of dust on your chain link fence, to avoid breathing in any hazardous materials.
  • Clean off any blatant dirt or grime off your chain link fence.
  • Be sure to sand off any rough edges or loose paint using some fine sandpaper before applying any other materials on the fence.
  • Remove any fence ornaments you would not like on the chain-link fence.
  • Eliminate any sort of rust on the chain-link fence. Individuals have used either a sandblaster or a wire brush for the part of the process.

3. Apply Rust Inhibitor

Note: Some newer kinds of paint comes with rust inhibitors. If the paint you are going to use has rust inhibitor in the paint (it will note it is usually on the front of the can), skip this step. If you are unsure of what paint to use, go to the next step for some ideas.

Once your workspace is clean and good to go, apply some rust inhibitor to prepare your fence for painting. Experts recommend slowly spraying the inhibitor in small sections, instead of using it all at once so it is easier to handle.

The Most Trusted Rust Inhibitors Are

The links above will all take you to the Amazon listings for each product, but you can also find rust inhibitors in most home hardware stores or online retailers.

To use a rust inhibitor, follow the directions on the labeling of whatever product you choose. For most products, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Clean any rust from the area you want to treat as much as possible. The cleaner the surface is the better the results you’ll have.
  2. Apply the product with a brush or roller, allowing it to sit for the length of time described on the product label by the manufacturer.
  3. Wait until the product transforms into a darker color once it’s finished working and the rust is neutralized.
  4. Paint the area. These products will also act as a primer once they’re set and it’s best to paint them afterward to the best protection possible.

Again, this is the approach for most rust inhibitors, but it’s important to make sure to follow the directions for whatever specific one you choose as each product might require a slightly different approach.

4. Prepare The Paint

The paint best suitable for chain link fences will have some/most of these properties. There is no such thing as the perfect type of paint, but here are some things to look for, from greatest to least:

  • Rust Inhibiting Aluminum Flake Paint. This is the most important characteristic. Using this specific type of paint creates a reaction that will cause your paint to bond very easily and make your paint last for a while.
  • Oil-based paint.
  • Weather Resistant.
  • Pet Resistant (even if you don’t have any pets). The chemical properties of pet resistant paints are more suitable for chain link fences.

Unfortunately, you are not able to use spray paint or use any type of paint sprayer on chain link fences. The properties will not stick with the chain links, and it will also leave you with a big mess.

The top three colors for chain link fences are silver, black, and green. It will be very difficult to find most other colors of paint that will be beneficial for the chain-link fence.

The Highest Rated Paints For Chain Link Fences:

  1. Rust-Oleum 7787402 Chain Link Fence Paint (Home Depot) 
  2. Behr 5 gal. White Exterior Barn and Fence Paint (Home Depot)
  3. Valspar Anti-Rust Armor Rust Control Enamel (Amazon)

5. Roll The Paint In An Even Motion

  • Use a paintbrush roller on your chain link fence. Make sure to only use a little bit of paint at a time so the paint does not run at all. Rollers are beneficial because according to Security Fence Minneapolis experts, “it only applies paint to what it touches and has no need to bounce back while applying a reasonable amount of pressure to leave paint behind.” Source
  • A roller is also a whole lot cleaner than using a spray paint or spray gun of any time because you won’t get tons of overspray and wasted paint. Also a roller, especially those with a thick nap, will apply enough paint to generally cover both sides of the fence.
  • It is best to start at the top and work yourself down, then up again. Make sure that your strokes are symmetrical to each other (like you are cutting grass). This is important because every stroke you make is very visible, and wrong marks can ruin your entire paint job.
  • You can paint both sides at once and on the same day, despite popular belief.
  • Be sure to paint slowly to avoid spillage and to avoid the chemicals getting on other equipment. Some have used the rim of their painting pan in order to get the excess paint off. A few coats of paint will stick onto your fence better than one thick coat of paint will.

Here are the best paint rollers that are optimized for chain link fences:

While all three links above are to rollers available on Amazon that are great for this purpose. If you are in a hurry and need it today, you can get something similar from your local paint or hardware store.

6. Keep In Mind These Painting Tips:

  • Use personal protection as much as possible while working with your fence. Specifically masks and gloves. Many products you use will have strong fumes or dangerous chemicals.
  • If you can, always have a second set of hands there to help you in the process.
  • Budjet out the job ahead of time to know what to expect financially.
  • Prep the work area and make any necessary repairs BEFORE painting.
  • Keep the surface as dry as possible both before and after your work is finished. Cut back any brush that is close to touching the fence and keep dirt away from the fence as much as possible (raising the fench boards off the ground is best).
  • Paint your fence on a day with low humidity and low winds. If it’s too hot or too cold it could cause problems. About 60 to 80 degree fahrenheit range is optimal. Check your local forcast.

7. Thin Out The Fine Edges

Use a bristled paintbrush to thin out the fine edges and anything the roller missed. Be sure to fill in every crevice of your chain link fence before adding on another layer.

8. Rinse and Repeat This Method

  • Redo this process till you feel like your chain link fence is good to go! It usually takes a couple of coats.

General Information About The Painting Process:

If you decide to follow through with the process of painting your chain link fence on your own, you are looking at about $55 total for the entire process. If you decide to hire a professional, you will be looking at around $199 on average (on the lower end) to prime and paint 150 square feet of fence (e.g., a 3-foot high fence 50 feet in length). That includes labor and material.

Chain-link Fences last about fifteen-twenty years. If your fence is older than that, it is best to just replace it before trying to repaint it.

The paint on your chain link fence will last for about four years, but be sure to touch up your fence every two years (eliminate rust, dirt, etc.) to make sure it looks the best it can be.

Fence Frenzy

We at Fence Frenzy absolutely love taking on the challenge of building, or even restoring, a fence. Especially elaborate and exotic fence designs that really make us scratch our heads! We're happy to share everything we've learned with you.

Recent Posts