Fence Staining 101

June 22, 2022

Want to enjoy your backyard, but have a fence that isn’t looking its best? It may be time for a fence stain! Staining is a great way to extend the lifespan of your wood fence, protect it from the elements and keep it looking nice year-round.

Benefits of Fence Staining

Staining your fence has many benefits. High-quality stain that is applied properly prevents water from seeping into your wood fence. This is important because when water seeps into the wood it can cause rotting, mildew, and if water freezes it can cause splintering/splitting. Staining also helps limit the UV damage to your fence, which occurs when direct sunlight breaks down the color of your fence, leaving it appearing faded. Staining will preserve the color of the wood for longer, as wood left untreated will fade to a grey color over time.

Though some people may be tempted to DIY their fence stain, we do recommend hiring professional contractors who have all of the proper tools and experience for the best results. Even if it’s a bit more expensive initially, your fence is an important investment that is worth it!

Ultimately, the benefits of staining (both structural and cosmetic) contribute to a longer lifespan for your fence and increased curb appeal for your property.


Types of Fence Stain

The three most common types of fence stain are transparent stain, semi-transparent stain, and solid color. You can browse more images of fence stain options in our online gallery.

Transparent wood stain

Transparent fence stain is the most affordable of the options. It will show the natural wood grain and textures with subtle color accents.

Semi-transparent wood stain

Semi-transparent and solid stains are more costly than transparent and are typically priced the same, as these types both require the application of two coats of stain. Semi-transparent will showcase the wood and grain textures while adding color.

Solid wood stain

Solid stain will even the appearance of/hide the natural wood grain and can be applied in a variety of colors.

Preparing for Fence Stain

Fence stain should be applied to a dry fence. Contractors will need to delay the staining if it has rained within the last 24 hours, or if it’s going to rain within 24 hours of your project.

If you have a brand new fence, you’ll need to wait for it to dry out before it’s ready for you to apply stain. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. A variety of factors, such as sun exposure and humidity will play a role in how fast your fence is ready. A useful test to see if your fence is ready for stain is to spray a bit of water on it. If the water beads up on the fence, it’s not ready. If the fence absorbs the water, then it’ll be able to absorb the stain as well.

For older fences, power washing is also recommended before the stain is applied. Once your fence is clean and dry, it will be ready for staining.

If your fence has been previously stained, then a stain stripper will need to be applied to remove the old stain first. For homeowners with older fences, we recommend the use of a pressure washer to clean up and help with the prep work before applying stain.

Once your fence is clean, dry, and the weather forecast looks clear, it’s ready for the stain to be applied.

Applying the Fence Stain

Next comes the issue of how to stain a fence. Paintbrushes, paint rollers, or pads can be used to apply the stain to the fence. Paint sprayers are also an option.

Take your applicator of choice and dip it into the stain. Then brush it along the fence, following the grain of the wood. You’ll want to use a back-brushing technique, which involves brushing over areas you’ve already brushed in an up and down motion, to make sure that the stain gets is evenly applied. Continue to do this until you’ve applied stain to the entire fence. Typically, one coat is enough, though some stains may require two.

Once the stain has been applied evenly to your wooden fence, you’ll just need to wait for it to dry. This typically takes 24-48 hours.

Other Fence Stain FAQs

Most contractors will not agree to stain just one side of a fence. This is because it would take a considerable amount of labor to try to protect one side from unwanted stain, and for most fence types the stain could easily leak through to the other side of the fence- making for difficult clean up. A possible exception to this rule is for fences with board on board picket build.

Also, other elements of your fence will factor into the total project cost. For example, if your fence is taller than 6’, has a lattice, or has large gaps, your project costs can increase. We encourage homeowners to get detailed quotes before beginning their fence stain project.

Overall, it’s important to ensure proper care and maintenance for your fence. While some basic fence care can be DIY, something like staining can be more labor-intensive, making hiring a contractor a more attractive option. Staining is a great way to keep your fence looking its best and adding value to your property for years to come.

Ready to get started? Join the over 10,000 happy customers who have had fences built by Ergeon. We specialize in fence installation, repair and staining and hold a 4.6 average rating!

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