Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Staining your worn out fence for dirt cheap …

Okay. So this project is no where near as fun to look at as a kitchen or bathroom remodel … but nevertheless, it was on our list and we found a way to save a boat load of money … so here we are.

How to stain an old worn out fence for dirt cheap using 'Oops' paint from Home Depot.

As I’ve said before, we bought this house 6 1/2 years ago. What I haven’t said is WHY we bought this house. I grew up in a much more urban area than I live in now … and my husband grew up in the country. We compromised … and moved slightly farther out, but I didn’t cave and buy a barn chock full of barn animals either. However, we did buy a home with a decent sized yard. The tax documents say that our home lot is 1/2 an acre. For those of you living on farms … stop laughing. For my more urban self, 1/2 acre is about a 1/2 acre more than I was looking for. So, in a nutshell, we bought the house for the yard. Not the brass. Not the white Formica. Not the builder grade carpet. It was the yard. We bought it for the yard. And never looked back. ;)

Said 1/2 acre also comes with a LOT of wood fence. So much wood fence, that it required 25 gallons of paint/stain to cover it. Fence stain isn’t cheap, in case you haven’t priced it out yet. So … after pricing it out 6 1/2 years ago … we promptly gave up on the idea of spending $900 on fence stain. Yes, folks. I said $900. On. Fence stain.

So, fast forward 6 1/2 years … and our fence was looking nice and … nasty. Ugly. Gray. Worn. Weathered. We knew we were going to have to replace the whole thing soon … because we never did splurge on the $900 for fence stain.

Then, about 6 months ago, a big storm knocked down the entire back side of our fence. We were exposed. Luckily, Superman has salvaged a bunch of steel fence posts from the neighborhood (HOA) fence that was being replaced prematurely (because there wasn’t a thing wrong with these steel fence posts). So, he set the steel fence posts in concrete and bought new cross panels. Then, he took off each and every picket, pulled all the nails out … and screwed each one back up. (He’s only done this along the back side so far, but we have steel posts for the entire perimeter … another day … another project)

Then, he bleached the fence, to wash out all the old gray. And then. THEN, Superman got one of his best ideas yet. He noticed during a routine Home Depot visit that they were selling several 5 gallon buckets of fence stain for $20 (they are usually $180/each). Home Depot calls these particular buckets … ‘Oops’ paint. It’s paint that people have purchased but didn’t like, so they took the paint back for whatever reason. Only problem? Every color is completely and totally horrid. Like, so ugly that you have NO idea why anyone would have thought to purchase it in the first place.

However … If you buy 5 different colors and dump them all together … and then add a little tint … you end up with a decent color. And, you also end up with 25 gallons of said decent color. So … that is just what Superman did. He bought 5 separate 5 gallon buckets and dumped them all into a big trash can (probably a 35 gallon can). Then, he stirred and mixed and mixed and stirred. And finally … for the grand total of $100 … we had the perfect color and enough stain to make our ugly old fence look new again. Take a look for yourself. :D
Here is the fence before (we did have to replace about 40 pickets because there were about 40 overall that just weren’t worth salvaging) the stain, but after the bleach process:

How to stain an old worn out fence for dirt cheap using 'Oops' paint from Home Depot - Before

And here it is after the stain:

How to stain an old worn out fence for dirt cheap using 'Oops' paint from Home Depot - After

See. There are still a few wobbly looking fence posts, but those will soon be replaced with steel ones anyway. For now … it did the trick and fixed a HUGE eye sore … for very little money, considering how big our fence actually is. I am only showing you a tiny little corner of this great big old fence. :D

So, y’all … run, run, run. Find yourself some ‘Oops’ paint. And fix your old worn out fence. You won’t regret it!

How to stain an old worn out fence for dirt cheap using 'Oops' paint from Home Depot.

Total cost: $100. For about 1,000 linear feet. Give or take a couple hundred. Brilliant.


  1. Okay, that is brilliant!! And your fence looks amazing!

  2. Genius! This is our exact story, large back yard, crappy fence, wind blew down half of it, repaired it and dont want to spend that much money on stain!

  3. I have to say, that is probably one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve ever seen! How did he get that gorgeous dark brown shade? And it’s so amazing how you were able to cover 1,000 feet of fence for just $100! I wonder if Home Depot is still selling “Oops” paint. Well, in any case, I think it’s a good thing you stained your fence, since that should help keep it from rotting. Just be sure to watch out for molds because those can be real eyesores! If you spot any, it should be fairly easy to remove those using cleaning products. Christian Renwick

    1. Sorry, I didn't see your question earlier. The perfect dark brown shade was seriously a happy accident. He bought a reddish stain, a green stain (not joking, someone actually purchased - and returned - a green fence stain), and a few other awful shades. In order to make brown, you do need opposing colors. So, if you find a stain with more red in it ... look for green. It was a culmination of 5 buckets of nasty coming together to make beautiful. Best $100 we could have spent!

  4. Good thinking with the “Oops” paint. I don’t know how the original paints looked like, but the one on the fences looks great. It kinda looks like wood varnish from the picture.

    Marvel Farias

  5. So my Superman doesn't think I can actually do this to our fence but I'm determined to prove him wrong...which I think I can't totally do with a lil help from you ;-) Can you help me understand the "bleaching the fence" step? Also, the actual staining part...any tips on how to make that go faster? Did you use a paint roller? Paint brush? Sprayer? Thx so much for this tip! It's raining right now and my wet fence looks the exact color I want it stained. I've been inspired to make it this color dark brown year round! :-) wish me luck!

    1. Okay. Let me see if I can remember this correctly. This goes to Superman's email too ... so he'll correct me if I'm wrong.

      He put straight bleach in one of those things that exterminators use to spray around the house for bugs ... you can get them at Home Depot. Then he sprayed the fence with bleach. It took several gallons of bleach.

      When he applied the stain, he used a spray gun attached to an air compressor, but you can use a brush or a roller. He used the spray gun because he had it and it was faster. If you don't have it, just roller it on. Don't stress. He also used stain that was semi-transparent (or semi-opaque, depending on how you look at it) ... meaning, it's part stain/part paint (even though it's all called stain), so it covered up the imperfections in the wood really well. Because you couldn't see straight through it to the wood grain.

      Anyway. Hope that helps! Good luck!! You can do it!! :D

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  7. Really nice!! Can you tell me if he did both sides of fence or just 'inside' and if he did the one side, did the color 'seep' through to the other side? We have the same problem except our fence is shared with our neighbor & they don't want to do anything to improve the fence. I don't want to do ours only to have to pay to do theirs too if it seeps through to their side. Also, did he put any kind of selant over the stain? We are in Peoria AZ so I think I'll seal the stain to protect from sun damage.
    Looks fantastic!!

  8. Our fence has been looking really worn out lately. It is as old as our home so it has not been replaced once. We were thinking about having it replaced but I think now we should just stain it. It would probably look brand new when we were done.

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