Paint or Stain my Condo’s new wood fence?

Should we paint or stain the cedar fence at our strata?

We’ve done it both ways at strata’s and co-op’s throughout Metro Vancouver, and here are the pros and cons of each.

Painting a Cedar Fence (using a paint or solid stain)


  1. You can paint a wood fence any colour – which is nice if you want to match your community colour scheme or the previous fence colour.
  2. You can hide any imperfections in the wood, for a fairly consistent look.


  1. The solid layer of paint or even solid stain doesn’t let the wood breathe, thus trapping moisture inside and causing premature rot. Even if the wood was kiln dried to begin with ($$$) moisture will still permeate the paint in our climate and have a hard time drying when the sun comes out.
  2. The paint on top of the fence is guaranteed to peel/ bubble and flake within the first 12 months.
  3. When the wood shrinks and expands with the weather it will expose unpainted areas. This could technically be prevented by prestaining all the materials but again that is big $$$. And doesn’t solve the first two “cons”.




Staining a Cedar Fence (using an oil-based stain)


  1. Oil based transparent stain lets the wood breathe. Instead of forming a film on the surface of the wood, it soaks in. This results in a much greater fence lifespan than a painted fence.
  2. Stained fences are easier to maintain and easier to recoat when the time comes. Very minimal surface preparation is required. Clean the fence and re-apply stain.
  3. Retain the natural beauty of Western Red Cedar, and let the fence blend in with the landscape.


  1. If your strata or condo previously had a painted fence, it will not be possible to match the colour with a stain. If they are set on a solid colour fence it makes more sense to install a vinyl fence.
  2. Limited natural wood colour tones available – some options below.
  3. If not applied correctly the fence could still turn grey as soon as 18 months after installation.

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