What Color Should You Paint Your Fence This Summer?

painting a fence

August 2nd is National Coloring Book Day, a day when the young and young at heart are reaching for their crayons, markers, and pencils and embracing the simple pleasure of coloring. Coloring brings a range of benefits, including calming the mind, helping us be more present, and reducing our stress and anxiety levels. But once you’ve colored the pages of your book, you’ll probably throw them away. Consider using color in a more long-lasting way by painting your fence. Virtually every kind of fence material suits painting. But which color should you choose?

What Color is Your Garden?

Your fence should work in harmony with your existing landscaping. Consider the colors in your gardens and choose a paint that either complements, contrasts, or blends into your gardens. Wood stains have a rustic, earthiness that complements all kinds of gardens beautifully. Colorful flowers will pop against a fence that’s black or another dark hue. A red fence might seem like a bold choice, but it could blend in with a garden filled with red flowers. Most experts believe this isn’t ideal. You’ve spent time and effort tending to your plants, so current trends suggest they should stand out against your fence.

Assess your whole yard, rather than just the plants in your garden too. If you have a swimming pool, sun deck, or pergola, your fence should work cohesively with these permanent fixtures too. Picking up a color you’ve used before will give your property some unity.

Rules and Regulations

Owning your own home doesn’t always mean you’re free to paint its exterior any way you wish. Certain neighborhoods have policies which govern the colors you can and can’t paint exteriors, including fences. If you live in a gated community or another kind of planned development, you’re also beholden to the Homeowner’s Association’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

Research local regulations to check whether you need a permit for your painting project and make sure your preferred color isn’t against the rules. If you’re unsure whether there are any restrictions, a phone call to your local government or Homeowner’s Association can save the headache that could come if you need to paint over your hard work. Your Homeowner’s Association might even grant you a variance if you want to paint your fence a color that contravenes its guidelines. Just be prepared to plead your case and put forward a good reason for going against the grain.

What Style Is Your House?

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Your fence is really just an extension of your home, so your house’s exterior colors and style should work with your fence’s color.

That doesn’t mean your fence has to match your home exactly. While a white home might suit a white fence, a green fence paired with a green home might overwhelm the eye. Similarly, while a tan fence might match a tan home, the pairing could seem a little drab. A natural wood stained fence would complement the tan home while giving it a little lift.

The color wheel can be a handy reference guide for finding the right balance. The colors close to your home’s color are perfect for a fence that looks in harmony with your home. Opting for a shade that’s a little lighter or a little darker than your home can create a traditional cohesive look. Painting your fence in the same accent color as your window trims or front door, for example, can also create a harmonious finish.

Don’t be afraid of choosing an opposing color if your home has a contemporary appearance though. Opposing colors contrast beautifully for a bold look. Monochromatic colors work with any shades on the color wheel. If your home is a neutral color like cream or white, a bold colored fence could give it a real lift. You might even paint the palings in your fence different, complementary colors for an eclectic look.

We’re also used to seeing certain kinds of homes bordered by fences in specific colors. A white picket fence is synonymous with traditional American homes. Oak-stained fences complement the rustic charm of ranch- and farm-style homes. The drama of a Mediterranean or estate-style home is the perfect foil for a black fence. There’s a reason why these combinations are so classic. While you can feel free to go outside the box, don’t break with tradition just for the sake of it.

Don’t Forget About Your Neighbors


Most Americans live in urban and suburban areas where the choices they make about their home’s exteriors impact their wider community. If you’re one of them, the color you paint your fence will affect your neighbors. Be community-minded and consider them when you make your choice. Take your cues from your neighbors. You might love purple, but if the other properties in your area have natural wood-stained fences, your violet fence will stick out like a sore thumb. Also, choosing a color that complements your community is especially important if you’re planning to sell your home soon.

If you’re painting a fence you share with your neighbors, speak to them before you buy your paint and discuss your plans. If they object to your choice, it’s probably worth reconsidering your paint selection to keep the peace. If you’re not painting shared fences, there’s no need to involve your neighbors in your color selection process. However, you should take care to ensure your paint doesn’t get on the other side of the fence or your neighbor’s plants or lawn.

Consider your own tastes, regulations, and your environment when selecting your fence’s paint. Also, remember that colors often appear lighter with more dominant undertones in full sun, so you shouldn’t make your final decision looking at swatches. Colors also tend to look darker once they’re painted on a large area, like a whole fence. Test a few sample colors on parts of your fence near foliage, then choose the one that works best. Once you’ve settled on a color, get to work! Painting your fence a new color is an easy way to enhance your home’s street appeal.

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