A Weekend DIY Tale, feat. Blake Butler

A rusty, old, chain link fence is an eye sore. The cost to replace one will shock you and your wallet. Believe it: Chain Link Fence Pricing. Fortunately, there are several articles available on the Internet describing how to complete a diy (do-it-yourself) fence makeover. After exploring several ideas, I decided painting my rusted, chain link fence was the best option for me and my landscaping arrangement.

I wanted to share how easy and cost effective my fence painting experience was. I chose to go with a black fence. A black fence camouflages very well into your landscape, while still carrying a classy appearance.

Supplies needed:
• Old clothes and shoes
• Wire brush and/or pressure washer
• Ground cover for spillage
• Latex gloves if you’re a pansy
• Rust O Leum primer
• Rust O Leum paint
• Rust O Leum spray paint for finishing touches
• thick knapped roller – I recommend 1” or more
• Throw away brushes
• Six pack of cold beer for when you’re done

After doing my research on the best type of paint to use, I went with the “Rust-Oleum” product line, which I purchased at Home Depot. My fence rails were heavily rusted as the pictures below show. For the rusted parts of the fence I used the Rust-Oleum “Heavy Rust Primer.” I later followed the primer coat with the Rust-Oleum “Flat Black” as the finishing layer of makeover. Rust-Oleum paint does not wash out of brushes and rollers like normal paint types. I would purchase throw away brushes and rollers. I bought two thick knap roller (1.25 in) for the chain link and two “economy” rough brushes for the rails. You can use a paint sprayer for the job; however, you have lots of paint waste and the sprayer will not effectively hit the nooks and crannys like a brush can.

Here are the steps I used to restore my old, tired chain link fence:

  1. I cleaned the loose rust off with an old wire brush that needed to be retired. You could also pressure wash the fence for a more thorough removal of rust, dirt, and grime. I took an old broom to knock off the outside debris as well.
  2. It is important to secure some old cardboard boxes or a tarp to use for paint spillage. I used one cardboard piece for the rails against the house and one longer piece that I moved along with my painting progress.
  3. I primed the rusted parts using the brush for the rails first and then rolling the chain link as needed. The black paint will stick to the metal as long as the rust as been removed.
    • As a side note, the priming portion took several hours, so I took a lunch break to let the primer dry. Be sure that the primer is thoroughly dry before beginning the next step.
  4. After lunch I started with the coat of black paint. Again, I brushed the rails and used the thick napped roller for the chain link. Important note: go very slow with the roller to prevent paint being spattered all over you and the surrounding area.
  5. I would recommend having two people on the project. One person painting the back portion of the fence, and the other on the front.
  6. After I hit the fence with a solid coat, I followed up with the Rust-Oleum “Flat Black” spray paint – I purchased two cans and ended up only needing one. I touched up the hard to reach spots where the rails and chain connect.

I am completely satisfied with the outcome of the fence. The entire project cost was $88 for the supplies, one full Saturday, and half of a Sunday afternoon. If you compare that to a new black fence, I saved roughly $3,000. When all is said and done, there is one thing that I would have done differently though: I would have bribed some of my buddies with beer and pizza to speed things up a bit.

Happy diy-ing,

Blake Butler, Vice President
Sheila J. Butler & Company, Inc.

Fence - Before2Fence - Before4
Fence - AfterFence - After3