Want your fence to look great and last long? One of the keys is staining! Staining your fence helps protect it from the elements and prevents a variety of problems, including fading from UV rays, splintering, and rotting.
The recommended process for staining will depend on the age and style of your wood fence. The best time to stain will often be before the winter hits, because a recently stained fence shouldn't get wet for at least 24 hours after installation. Keeping up with regular staining and maintenance of your fence will help protect the investment and can save you time and money in the long-run.
Staining your fence has many benefits. High-quality stain that is applied properly prevents water from seeping into the wood of your fence. This is important because when water seeps into the wood it can cause rotting and if that 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.
Ultimately, the benefits of staining (both structural and cosmetic) contribute to a longer lifespan for your fence and increased curb appeal for your property.
If you have a brand new fence, you'll need to wait for it to dry out before it's ready for staining. The process of drying can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Sun exposure, humidity and other factors will all factor into the drying time. A useful test to see if your fence is ready for stain is to spray a small amount 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 (or fences constructed more than about 6 months ago), power washing is also recommended before the stain is applied. Once your fence is clean and dry, it will be ready for staining.
If you live in Northern California, winter is the rainy season. An important note about staining is that it should be completed when the weather forecast is clear and does not predict rain/precipitation for at least 24 hours post-stain. That means late summer and/or early fall is the perfect time to get your staining done before the rainy season sets in.
The three most common types of stain are transparent, semi-transparent and solid color.
Transparent stain is the most affordable of the options. It will show the natural wood grain and textures with subtle color accents.
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 will even the appearance of/hide the natural wood grain and can be applied in a variety of colors.
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. 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.
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.