How to paint a pipe fence

One of the most common fencing options we come across is a standard pipe fence. It offers great flexibility and can be used for many purposes and in endless variations, but it also takes some effort to paint.

The following steps should give you enough guidance on how to paint a pipe fence – from prep work through finish touch-up, with various tricks and tips along the way that I’ve learned over years of painting fences. There’s not much magic involved, but it helps to know what you’re getting yourself into before you get into it.

How to paint a pipe fence, Zazzy Home

So here goes…

1.) If your metal posts are already coated with a powder coating color (e.g., rusty brown), you are better off applying one thin coat of oil-based primer first, followed by two thin coats of latex exterior paint. Otherwise, the color will probably start chipping off within a year or so.



2.) Make sure your fence sections are clean and free of dirt and loose debris before you start painting. If they’re not, use a wire brush or high-pressure power washer to remove dirt and rust scale (don’t forget safety goggles!).

3.) When it comes to brushes, I’ve always used 1″ chip brushes – they work well for this job because the bristles are stiff enough to let you push them down into smaller spaces between posts without breaking. 1″ chip brushes can be purchased in bulk at warehouse paint supply stores for around 25 cents per brush.



4.) For latex exterior paints, I always use the Behr brand. It’s the most durable paint I’ve used over the years… and the cheapest! And it has great coverage (2 coats will usually be enough).

5.) When it comes to cutting in (the part of the painting where you edge along with a board or other straight line), my preference is to lay out several 2″ wide pieces of masking tape first, parallel to each other, creating a “cutting-in lane.” Then take a Xacto knife (or some other sharp blade) and run through all of them at once with your wrist quickly snapping back-and-forth like an old-school windshield wiper. Do this about 3-5 times, and you should end up with a nice straight line. You can also use a small paintbrush or old toothbrush along the boards to create a crisp edge – it’s just more labor intensive and takes longer to complete.

How to paint a pipe fence, Zazzy Home

6.) When the first coat of paint is dry (give it at least 12 hours), you can start cutting in for your second coat – and don’t forget to tape off any areas that shouldn’t be painted! Remember: if you apply too much latex on top of dried latex, you will get what we painters call “tiger striping.” It looks similar to camouflage clothing worn by hunters of wild animals such as tigers – particularly when viewed from a distance. And nobody wants that!



7.) When the second coat is dry, I usually go back with a Xacto knife and scrape off any large areas of dried paint where it shouldn’t be (i.e., on fence posts). Just be careful not to damage your newly painted finish in the process. Then take a sanding block or thick piece of cardboard with medium-grit sandpaper wrapped around it and lightly run overall exposed sharp edges – this will smooth them out nicely without damaging your paint job too much.

8.) After everything is thoroughly dry, you can start touching up any spots left exposed by the tape you used for cutting in along boards, etc., with latex exterior paint using a brush or small roller.

Long story short, if the fence is powder coated with a light color (like rust), then you should ONLY do one coat of oil-primer before doing your exterior latex; otherwise, the color will fade and chip within a year. Brush paint with 1″ chip brushes can be bought in bulk at warehouse paint supply stores for around 25 cents per brush.



If your first coat of paint has dried (give it at least 12 hours), cut in for a second coat using 2″ wide pieces of masking tape to make straight lines; also, use a Xacto knife or other sharp blade to scrape with your wrist snapping back-and-forth like an old-school windshield wiper. Give more time for the rest of the paint to dry – at least 12 hours – and then sand any sharp edges with a sanding block or piece of cardboard with medium-grit sandpaper wrapped around it.

Paint the fence using an exterior latex primer-sealer, followed by two coats of exterior latex paint, after which you should scrape off any large areas of dried paint where it shouldn’t be (i.e., on fence posts) with a Xacto knife or other sharp blade.

How to paint a pipe fence, Zazzy Home

Then take a sanding block or thick piece of cardboard with medium-grit sandpaper wrapped around it and lightly run overall exposed sharp edges – this will smooth them out nicely without damaging your paint job too much. After that’s done, touch up any spots left exposed by the tape you used for cutting in along boards, etc., with latex exterior paint using a brush or small roller.



If your fence is powder-coated (or painted with a light color like rust), then only do one coat of oil-primer before doing your exterior latex; otherwise, the color will fade and chip within a year. Paint with 1″ chip brushes, which can be bought in bulk at warehouse paint supply stores for around 25 cents per brush. Give more time for the rest of the paint to dry – at least 12 hours – and then sand any sharp edges with a sanding block or piece of cardboard with medium-grit sandpaper wrapped around it before touching up any spots left exposed by the tape with latex exterior paint using a brush or small roller.

Author

Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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