Stain for Wood Fences: How to Choose the Right One

When it comes to staining a wood fence, many different factors to consider. The most important decision you’ll make is what color to choose. There are dozens of shades and colors available, so how do you know which one is right for your fence? Stains come in many varieties, and this guide will help you determine which one is suitable for your requirements!

Why Stain Your Wood Fence?

A high-quality outside stain helps prevent wood fencing from long-term moisture and sun damage. Unstained fences can easily become damaged, break, and crack. Staining a fence is actually rather simple when done correctly. The majority of fence staining projects do not involve using a ladder at all.

There are two common types of stain applied to a fence: semi-transparent and solid. Semi-transparent is more like paint, showing the natural beauty of the wood grain. Solid is thicker and helps protect the wood better than semi-transparent does. However, some people prefer the look of semi-transparent because it looks more natural than solid does.

Oil vs. Acrylic Fence Stain

Acrylic fence stain has grown in popularity due to new VOC regulations that have made numerous conventional oil-based items obsolete. Premium acrylic fence stain will function just as well, if not better, than oil.

The main problem with oil stains is that they contain resins to feed mildew. If your fence is in the shade or surrounded by plants, mildew is more likely to form and spread quickly. Additionally, oil-based stains grow brittle and crumble when the coating deteriorates. Acrylic is particularly effective at penetrating the wood and is easily cleaned with soap and water.

Power Wash the Fence

Power washing is when you spray and then wash. You first spray a cleaner on the wood, wait 10 minutes, and power washes the surface. If you use a transparent or semi-transparent stain, you need to remove the old stain completely so it is not visible through the new coat of stain. Using a solid finish will not be necessary because the solid coating will hide the old stain on the surface. A decent power washing typically eliminates the previous stains, although, in certain circumstances, a chemical remover may be required. If the wood is dark and discolored, a wood brightener restores it to its original state, allowing for the best stain finish possible.

Spraying vs. Brushing

An airless sprayer is a good way to stain your wood fence. It is faster and easier than using a brush or roller. You may complete this project in a single weekend if you borrow a sprayer from your local paint store. Use a sprayer to quickly and evenly apply the material to the surface. To push the material into the wood, use a brush and roller. A 9-inch roller with a 3/4-inch nap is suitable for filling the porous surface well for cedar. Before spraying, cover bushes and grass with drop cloths, and you might need to cover objects on the other side of the fence too.

Staining a fence is similar to staining a deck flooring. You should start and stop in the same spot and always go in the same direction. With a fence, you can use a bigger spray tip and turn down the pressure on the sprayer so that there is less over-spray. The recommended spray tip size will be printed on the can of stain you are using.

Best Stain for Wood Fencing

The best product I have used for cedar fencing and siding is Woodscape from Sherwin Williams. There are two versions, one with acrylic and one with oil. I use acrylic because it has anti-microbial agents to help prevent mildew growth. Just like painting aluminum siding and fencing, you should also use the best product to maintain it in the long run.

When you paint your fence, you should use two coats of paint. It is best to apply the paint in a shaded area. You can also re-coat the same day if humid and warm out. And make sure that you do this every 3-4 years because when the coating starts to wear off, your fence will not last as long. If you’re having problems painting the whole fence, you can use a paint edger to reach the corners.

You can check out this link to learn more about staining your wood fence.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stain for Wood Fence

Should I Stain My Wood Fence?

You should re-stain or paint your wood fence every two to three years. The experts at Five Star Painting recommend using stain because it is more durable than paint when exposed to the elements. Factors that affect this maintenance interval include whether your fence is in direct sunlight and how much UV light it is exposed to.

Is It Better to Stain or Seal a Fence?

Stains are more expensive than sealers, but they last longer and look better. They’re worth the money because they make your deck or fence look nicer for a longer time. We at DeckMaster™ recommend using stains for your deck and fence maintenance.

When Should I Stain My Wood Fence?

Consider the type of wood. Then wait for 1-6 months before you stain or seal it. This will give it time to weather and dry or cure.

Is It Better to Paint or Stain a Wooden Fence?

Staining a fence is better than painting it. Stains eventually fade, but this takes many years. Also, because stains do not peel or crack, the preparation for staining is less work than painting. Simply power wash the fence to get it ready before staining.

How Many Coats of Stain Do I Need for a Fence?

Solid-color stains are like paint and need just one coat. Semi-transparent penetrating stains need two coats, with the second coat applied about an hour after the first.

Do You Have to Stain Both Sides of a Fence?

Customers sometimes ask if they should seal both sides of the fence. The answer is that if one side of the fence is facing a neighbor, and the neighbor doesn’t seal their side, your fence will still be okay. Sealing the fence won’t affect its structural integrity.

How Many Gallons of Stain Do I Need for a Fence?

One gallon of stain will cover a modest fence up to 175 square feet. If your fence is greater than 550 square feet, two gallons of stain will suffice. You will need three or four gallons of stain for very large fences, up to 700 square feet.

Is It Too Late to Stain My Fence?

If you want to wait before painting or stain a fence, a good rule of thumb is to wait one or two months. If the fence is made with dry materials, it will weather enough in that time. If the fence is made with pressure-treated materials, it may take three or four months for the posts to dry out. This can be determined with a moisture meter.

Should I Pressure Wash My Fence Before Staining?

It is not always a good idea to power wash your fence before painting it. Power washers can push the mold and mildew (the color of the wood) deeper into the wood. This will make the wood deteriorate faster.

What Is the Longest-Lasting Fence Stain?

Oil-based stains that are solid and opaque last the longest. If they are taken care of, they can last up to 5 years before the fence needs to be stained again.

Do You Need to Sand a Fence Before Staining?

If your fence is new, you don’t have to sand it before staining it. If your fence is old, you should sand it before staining it to make the wood smooth.

Is It Worth Staining a Fence?

Your fence is worth protecting. Staining your wooden privacy fence will keep it looking nice and help it to last longer. Instead of lasting for 5-7 years, a fence that is stained with long-lasting stain might be able to last for 10-15 years, saving you money in the long run.

How Warm Does It Need to Be to Stain a Fence?

Apply stain when the temperature is right. Most stains work best at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but some can be used between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the label to be sure. Don’t stain when it’s too hot outside, and avoid high humidity.