Can You Paint Vinyl Fence? How To Paint Hollow And Solid Vinyl Fences

white paint on vinyl fence in southern backyard with large green trees behind

Maybe you had your fence put in last year, or maybe it was ten years ago.  Whatever the case you are likely wondering if you can paint it.  If you fence is wood, the answer is absolutely.  You simply need to do the proper prep work for a successful project. When you have a vinyl fence, the answer becomes a bit more nuanced.  In this article we will discuss the question can you paint vinyl fence.

Can You Paint Vinyl Fence Made Of Cellular PVC?

The first step to determining if you want to paint your vinyl fence is to find out what kind of vinyl fence you have.  If you have a cellular PVC fence, that is a fence that’s made of solid PVC, it’s a far easier question to answer.  A solid PVC fence can be painted using similar process to wood.  These are quite expensive fences though, and usually vinyl fences are hollow.  When you have a hollow vinyl fence, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind when determining if you can paint it.

Can You Paint Vinyl Fence That Is Hollow?

The hollow vinyl fence brings with it a few challenges.  First, it’s very flexible.  Oftentimes a vinyl fence will blow around in a breeze, and this can cause improperly painted fences to crack and peel.  If you take the time to properly prepare the surface and paint, you will still not be guaranteed a paint job that will last. However, you’ll have a far better chance of it looking great for years to come.

Pressure Wash

It’s not so much an issue of can you paint vinyl fence, but whether you want to paint vinyl fence.  If you don’t absolutely need to paint your fence, don’t.  The best first step to preparing a vinyl fence for either painting or determining if you can leave it as is, is a good pressure wash.  If you give your fence a good pressure wash, often you’ll bring it back to a reasonably good looking state. In fact, you may even be able to avoid painting.  However, if after the pressure wash you determine the fence still needs painting, great.  Pressure washing would be the first preparation step anyhow.

Dry The Fence

If you are going to paint your hollow vinyl fence, the next step will be to let the fence dry completely.  Making sure the fence is completely dry is an obvious yet necessary step.  Keep in mind with vinyl fences sometimes water can stay lodged in a crack or crevice between boards, and will pop out when you start to paint.  You want to avoid this.  Give the fence a little jiggle to see if water comes out.  Often it’s best to wait a day or so after pressure washing to make sure it’s completely dry.  

large white fence showing can you paint vinyl fence as yes with fresh coat of paint

Apply Primer

Next, you will want to apply a primer.  You want to use a primer specifically designed for PVC.  You can find this in just about any paint specialty store, or the big box hardware stores.  This primer step is often skipped, but beware, it’s extremely important if you want a successful paint job.  Yes, there are ‘PVC safe’ paints available out there, but this doesn’t mean you can paint directly onto PVC or vinyl. Whenever you are painting anything, always prime first.  

Paint Multiple Coats

Once your fence is primed, you can move on to the painting phase.  You will need more than one coat, so be patient.  Take the manufacturer’s recommendations into consideration between coats, and don’t hesitate to stretch out the times between coats.  If you live in a humid climate, you’re already used to waiting for things to dry a bit longer, and paint is no different.  When it comes to the type of paint, most of the time you want to use an acrylic latex ‘vinyl safe’ paint.  

When a paint is ‘vinyl safe’ it means the paint is of a certain shade of color to avoid black.  Unfortunately, you will not be painting your hollow vinyl fence black if you want it to last.  When you paint thin walled vinyl like vinyl siding or vinyl fences black, you will cause them to become a heat sink.  This can warp and flex the vinyl structure beneath in the sunlight, causing your fence some serious damage.  

Can You Paint Vinyl Fence Material?

Ultimately, can you paint a vinyl fence?  The answer is yes. The way to approach painting will depend on if the vinyl fence is solid or hollow. Understand that you need to take proper precautions to paint the fence properly if you want it to last. Watch this video on painting a vinyl fence if you want to see what the process looks like.