A wooden trellis can add beauty and functionality to any garden or outdoor space. However, over time, weather and wear can take their toll on the wood, leaving it looking dull and unattractive. To restore and protect your trellis, you may want to consider giving it a new coat of paint or wood stain. In this article, we will guide you through the process of prepping, painting, and choosing the right finish for your wooden trellis.

Prepping Your Wooden Trellis

Choose the right time and place

Choose a day with good weather, preferably warm and dry, with no rain forecast. Ensure you have a well-ventilated, shaded area to work in, as direct sunlight can cause the paint or stain to dry too quickly, making it difficult to apply evenly.

Clean the trellis

Before you start painting, make sure your trellis is clean and free from dirt, debris, and any loose paint or wood. Use a stiff-bristle brush to remove any debris and loose material, and then clean the trellis using a mild detergent solution and a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly with water and allow it to dry completely before proceeding.

Sand the wood

Sanding the wood ensures that the paint or stain adheres properly and provides a smooth finish. Use a medium-grit sandpaper (around 120-grit) to sand the entire surface of the trellis, paying special attention to rough spots and areas with loose paint. After sanding, wipe down the trellis with a damp cloth to remove any dust and debris.

Repair any damage

Inspect the trellis for any damaged or rotting wood, and repair or replace any damaged sections as needed. If you encounter small holes or cracks, you can fill them with wood filler. Allow the filler to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then sand the repaired areas smooth.

Choosing the Right Finish: Paint or Wood Stain

The choice between paint and wood stain depends on your personal preferences and the look you want to achieve.


Paint provides a solid, opaque finish that can effectively protect the wood from weather and UV damage. It is available in a wide range of colours, allowing you to easily match your trellis to your outdoor décor. If you choose to paint your trellis, opt for an exterior-grade paint specifically formulated for use on wood.

Wood Stain

Wood stain offers a more natural, translucent finish that enhances the wood’s natural grain and texture. Stains come in a variety of colours, but they do not offer the same level of UV protection as paint. If you prefer a more natural look, choose an exterior-grade, water-repellent wood stain that is specifically formulated for use on outdoor wooden structures.

Painting or Staining Your Wooden Trellis

Apply a primer (for paint only)

If you are using paint, apply a coat of exterior-grade wood primer to the trellis. This will help ensure even coverage and proper adhesion of the paint. Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Apply the paint or stain

Using a brush or roller, apply the paint or stain to the trellis, working in small sections to ensure even coverage. For paint, you may need to apply two coats for optimal coverage and protection. For stain, one coat is typically sufficient, but you can apply a second coat for a darker, richer finish. Allow each coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying additional coats.

Apply a protective topcoat (optional)

If you used a stain or if you want additional protection for your painted trellis, you can apply a clear, exterior-grade topcoat, this will add a layer of protection against weather and UV damage and can help extend the life of your trellis. Allow the topcoat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Reassemble and install

Once the paint or stain is fully dry, carefully reassemble any disassembled parts of the trellis and install it in its desired location. Be sure to securely anchor the trellis to prevent it from falling or shifting due to wind or other factors.

A freshly painted or stained wooden trellis can enhance the beauty and longevity of your garden or outdoor space. By following these steps and choosing the right finish, you can ensure that your trellis remains a beautiful and functional addition to your landscape for years to come. Regular maintenance, including periodic inspections and touch-ups as needed, will help prolong the life of your trellis and keep it looking its best.