Fencing always needs a proper finish before you can say the project is complete. Because the wood is being directly exposed to the elements daily, a fence without a protective coating will not last. The wood will bend, warp, and rot and your entire investment will go up in smoke.
Paint is one of the easiest and most popular finishes to apply, and there are a few easy ways to help you determine how much the job is going to cost before you swipe your debit card.
If your fence is not new and you're actually refinishing it, the first thing that you will need to do is determine how much damage has been done to the previous paint job. If it is only a small section of the fence, you will only need to measure that area, plus a little extra, since that's all the paint you will be using. If there is chipping and peeling all along the entire fence, just measure the whole length for repainting instead of trying to treat multiple spots. In this case, your previous paint coat is usually not worth keeping anyway.
Measure the area of the fence or the section that needs to be painted. You will want to take the height of that section of fence and multiply it by the length to get the total square footage you're painting.
Find the Cost
Now that you have the amount of square footage that needs to be covered, you can figure out how much paint you will need. Typically for fences, you will use more paint to cover an area than you would for a regular wall because the texture is rougher. Usually, a gallon of exterior paint will cover about 200 square feet for a fence so you can take your number and divide it by 200 to find out how many gallons you will need. Then multiply this number by the cost of one gallon of the paint you are using to find the total. You can usually add about $10 to $20 for other supplies such as paintbrushes and drop cloths to get your total budget. Also, if you are planning on more than one coat of paint, you can just double or triple your initial square footage to account for the added amount.
Obviously this estimation can vary some depending on the type of fence you're painting. If you're treating a privacy fence, one that has no spacing between the fence boards, then you may want to estimate a little higher to be sure you have enough paint. This estimate should still be fairly accurate in this case, as the fence is more of a complete surface area, without gaps. In regards to other types of fencing, the wider the gaps between your pieces, the less paint you will actually need. This calculation does not take that loss of area into account. However, it is still better to overestimate your budget than underestimate it.