How to Clean and Repaint Your Old Rusty Chain-Link Fence?

how to paint a rusty chain link fence

Chain link fences offer advantages over wood fences thanks to their longevity, flexibility, and durability.

However, painting a chain link fence may not seem like an easy thing to do, especially given the links themselves along with the potential mess that can be made.

But anyhow they will need to be repainted as the old coating wears away with time.

Without repainting, the metal will start to rust which causes even more issues.

What follows is a simple method you can use to repaint your chain link fence with minimal issues.

Tools and Materials, You Require

You will need to find the right type of outdoor paint that is weather and pet-resistant, whether you have pets or not.

The next item is a paint roller. You can use a ¾” roller that allows for better coverage.

This may seem counterintuitive at first, but a paint roller is the best tool to use in painting a chain-link fence.

Also, you will need some drop cloths that you can put on both sides of the fence to protect the grass and you are ready to start.

Steps for Repainting the Old Chain Link Fence

As a very first step – mix the paint, get the roller ready, and lay down the drop cloths or ordinary cardboard on both sides of the fence where you will be painting.

Remember that paint can kill grass, so ensure that the drop cloths cover all the ground.

Step 1. Scrape

The next step is to scrape away any loose paint or rust that has built up on the fence.

You can use a wire brush combined with soap and water to do the cleaning job.

You may want to do this on a day where there is a breeze to ensure that the fence dries before any oxidation can set it.

Otherwise, skip the soap and water and just use the wire brush alone.

Step 2. Apply Rust Inhibitor

Any areas of rust that you find will need to be treated with a rust inhibitor primer that is designed for rusty metals.

You can find many brands (Rustoleum is my favorite) of rust inhibitors in spray form, so the application will be easy.

Let the inhibitor fully dry before taking the next step.

Step 3. Prepare the Paint

Pour the paint into the paint tray after mixing.

It’s good to choose a rust-inhibiting aluminum flake paint that is oil-based for this project.

Small flakes of aluminum that come in this oil-based paint will readily overlap with each other and develop a watertight bond on the chain links that is waterproof and lasts for a long.

If the paint has a rust inhibitor, all the better. Especially for fences that have lots of rust.

Step 4. Roll Up the Paint and Begin

Put the roller in the paint, then roll in on the tray to remove any excess and start painting.

Using a deeper roller, will get the paint into all the gaps and cover the surface quite well.

Remember to roll in even motions and go fast enough to apply the paint, but slow enough to minimize any drips.

While you do have drop cloths in place, you’ll still want to minimize any splatter.

Step 5. Touch Up, Dry & Inspect

Once you have finished with the roller, before you move on, get a small paintbrush and touch up any small areas that might have been missed.

Once you are completed, let the paint dry for at least 24 hours depending on the instructions.

Look over the fence to see if you missed any areas. Otherwise, you have successfully repainted your chain link fence.

Painting Rusted Chain Link Fence

Can You Paint Galvanized Chain Link Fence?

Chain link fence with a galvanized coating (plastic coating or vinyl coating) can be painted but can be relatively tough.

For getting the right finishing, you may need to remove the original coating from the metal before applying the primer and paint.

If applied with the original coating, the paint and primer may not bond properly with the metal and may get peeled off much faster which will require you to repaint the surface sooner.

Since the overall process may need extra effort and skills, painting the vinyl or galvanized coated chain link fence should be done by a qualified professional only.

The project may cost you extra compared to what you will spend if you go the DIY way, but the amount you spend will be worth your time.

Can You Use A Sprayer for Painting Chain Link Fence?

While it may be tempting to use a sprayer, it may not be a good option for a chain-link fence as it may cause lots of oversprays and will waste a good portion of expensive paint.

Using a paintbrush and a good paint roller is the easiest/fastest way to paint the chain link fence without worrying about oversprays and paint wastage.

So, it’s best to use a roller on the chain link mesh and a paintbrush when you are painting the chain link fence posts.

When rolling, make sure that you spread the primer and the paint evenly while covering all the loops, bends, slats, and mesh.

This will help you get the right finish and long-lasting results that won’t peel away fast.

What are the Best Paint Colors to Apply on Chain Link Fencing?

Paints for fencing is available in a variety of different shades to choose from.

Some may like SILVER to get the right refinished look and many others love to paint their fencing with the color BLACK.

Believe me, it’s all a matter of personal preferences.

GREEN color paint can also be one of the best to choose for your aluminum chain link fencing and posts, especially if you have lots of greenery around.

This will completely blend in with your landscape or backyard while providing a great natural look.

One thing you will need to care about is to check with your neighbor if you share the fencing with them.

On a friendly note, it’s good to ask them and make sure that they agree with the color change you have in mind for the fence-painting project.

TIP: If your chain link fencing has not been painted for long (particularly after 1978), it may contain lead paint on it.

It’s better not to deal with any such fence and hire a professional painter for getting the job done.

The Bottom Line

Cleaning and repainting your old rusted chain link fence is a great way to make it look better.

No matter what paint colors you choose for your metal fence, make sure you prepare them well and pick the right paint that sticks well.

This way you can make them last longer while beautifying your surroundings.

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