As part of our landscape remodel, we were faced with a challenge: what to do with the weather-stained fence which spanned our entire back yard.
Replacing it was a non-starter unfortunately, so we opted to straighten it, mend it in a few places, and paint or stain. We’ll have a large hedge in front of it eventually, once our plants fill in.
For the paint, we wanted something not too thick, not too black, not too blue, not too brown… the perfect charcoal grey that wouldn’t smother the wood grain of the fence.
We tried a few samples. The big swatch on top is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Black Tar’; Clark & Kensington’s ‘Black Chiffon’ in the top right corner. The other option was Benjamin Moore’s ‘Midsummer Night’ (middle of the three in the swatch on the left) with more of a brown tint.
After staring at these for far too long (in all lighting conditions) and finding them either too blue or too brown, I reached out to Andy at fogmodern who mentioned that they custom-mixed their own grey for their fence (because they are DIY ninjas) and also pointed me to one of Hunter’s landscape projects at Redneck Modern.
What We Chose
Thanks to Hunter, we decided on Cabot Solid Wood Stain in Burnt Hickory, which checked off so many boxes for us. It’s grey. It dries to a matte finish. It’s not thick paint. It’s very Eichler.
Cabot Stains were originally used on Eichler siding, allowing the grain of the wood siding through. (You should totally check out the endorsement by Joe Eichler in these great vintage ads over at Eichlerific. How could we say no?) We found them at a few Kelly Moore paint stores in the Bay Area. The stain is like a thinner paint and it covers like a dream. We used only one coat for our fence and are very happy with it.
Our landscape contractor gently power-washed the old fence, so as to not knock it over, and we gave it a few days in the hot California sun to dry out. We also replaced part of the side fence, so it was great to unify everything. Then we painted it ourselves. It felt SO good to get our hands dirty again after all the landscape construction!
The colour is just what I was looking for: neutral in bright sunlight and almost black in shadow.
And, because this wouldn’t be my blog without an appearance by our dog, Winston: I noticed that it looks like we colour-matched the fence paint to his fur. He disappears against this backdrop.
We’re still hoping that we will be able to replace the fence completely someday– as you can see from our metal L-bracket fix above, it is hanging in there quite literally– but we’re pretty happy with how it’s looking now.
- Paint: Cabot Solid Wood Stain in Burnt Hickory
This is not a sponsored post.
I looks perfect! The plants look so much brighter and lush against the dark background. This is perfect timing as well since we’re going to be staining our fence and the wood retaining wall we’re installing in the spring 🙂 Thanks!
Thanks so much, Brooke! I’m glad this post was helpful and good luck with your project! Hope to see pics when you’re done. 🙂
Looks great, Karolina! Good call matching the color to Winston 🙂
Haha, thank you Jackie! 😉
Looks beautiful, Karolina! Must have been so satisfying to do this yourselves, as the final landscaping step. Finishes the space perfectly. Nicely done.
Hi there, love the color of your fence but am a little confused you mention it’s a grey stain but isn’t the color burnt hickory a brown?
Hi Lily! You make a good point– it is a bit odd, but as you can see from the pictures, it reads as a dark but warm, charcoal grey. I guess the emphasis should be on the ‘burnt’ part of the name!
What is the brand and color called?
Cabot Solid Wood Stain in Burnt Hickory– just updated it at the bottom of the post so it’s easier to see. Thanks!
‘Appreciate the blog. We’re researching fence paint/stain colors. I’ve Cabot Solid many times. ‘Even B. Hickory on deck posts and underneath a 2nd story deck. Great color. But is fence color faded? I always use 2 coats of solid stain. Twice amount of work, but 170% better performance. But in looking @ paint vs stain right now, we’re checking “solids by volume”. We’ve checked Cabot, Ben Moore, Arbor, Behr, etc. Cabot is by far lowest solids by volume % we’ve seen. And I understand solids by volume to be the single best quality indicator in a paint or stain. Plus, Cabot is EXPENSIVE. Which I don’t mind for quality. But I’m really questioning the Cabot quality after studying several TDS sheets. I’m gonna go a different paint/stain direction this time. Parting thought – always go w/ 2 coats of solid stain & we appreciate your blog.
Hi there Joe, thanks for the comments– I didn’t know about the solids by volume. The fence where we’ve used the stain is fairly protected, behind some trees and doesn’t get direct sunlight or much in the way of severe weather or wear, unlike a deck. So in the now five years it’s been up, it hasn’t faded and is still looking really good. Appreciate the information and thanks for stopping by!
I love the color and have been thinking of doing my new decking privacy screen similar color, now I’m keen to give it a go. Thanks.
Thank you for the idea, it looks great! I was wondering if you could tell me the type of trees you planted (the three threes in front of the fence)?
Hi Deanna – thanks! The trees are ‘Swan Hill’ fruitless olives. They’ve grown a lot in these past few years and are looking really good. I’m thinking I should do an update post sometime.
Hello! Your yard is lovely. How did you apply the stain to your fence?
Hi Allyson! We used big paint brushes, nothing fancy. I’ve seen it sprayed which looks like a good way to go as well.
This is so beautiful! Can you tell me if you used the solid or semi-solid? This color is exactly what I’ve been looking for!
This is the solid stain.
Hi! Love your fence color! Can you tell me what type of grass you used? It looks a little shaggier and longer than typical grass and I love how it looks. Thanks!
Thanks Patricia! The grass is the ‘Native Mow Free’ sod from Delta Bluegrass. It worked great for us for years, and this past year when completely dead/dormant. I’ll be posting an update on the landscaping soon so you can see it in its current state.
Looks awesome – we’re even inspired to design our brand new fence with this profile after seeing yours 🙂
Can I ask what dimension your boards are?
We’re looking at a 200m treated pine board, but would be keen to know the width on your boards/panels?
Also do you know what timber yours is?
Hi Jacob, sorry for the very delayed reply. This is a pretty common style of fence in our local area called the “good neighbour fence”. The width of the boards is approximately 6 inches and it is redwood, again common to our area.
Thank you for this post. I , too, was struggling to find a gray/brown color for my fence and when I found your post I loved the look of your fence and the color. I tried this Cabot color and love it! Just started to paint and it looks beautiful.
Thanks for this post. I’ve been trying to find a black stain for my new cedar screens and was inspired by your photos. I’m also curious about the precast concrete blocks you used for your wall in front of your fence. Do you remember the name of these or where you purchased them?
Hi Ben, glad the post is helpful. I don’t have too many details about the blocks, other than they are 4″ x 8″ x 12″ (or maybe 16″) cinder blocks or ‘CMU’ blocks. Our landscape contractor purchased them from Calstone as I recall, but I don’t see this product on their site unfortunately.