How to Stain a Fence: Everything You Need - Backyard Boss
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How to Stain a Fence: Everything You Need

After building your fence, it might seem like the job is over, but there’s one more thing you need to do to make sure it lasts. You need to stain your fence. This makes it look even better and increases its longevity. And if your fence was built and stained a while ago, re-staining it is probably a good idea.

In this post, we’ll share how to stain a fence and everything you need to get the job done like a professional. We’ll also let you in on the pros and cons of staining to help you decide if it’s the best choice for you.

What You Will Need to Stain a Fence

To get this job done, you’ll need to gather a few items from your garage and your hardware store. These include:

Step by Step Process on How to Stain a Fence

Step One: Find the Perfect Day

The day you stain your fence plays a huge role in the outcome of your work. The ideal day is sunny with low to moderate humidity. Before staining your fence, be sure to check the weather report to ensure there will be no precipitation. Cold temperatures, rain, and moisture make it harder for the wood stain to dry, while extreme heat makes it dry too quickly, which in turn makes it crack.

Step Two: Examine Your Fence

The next thing you should do before staining your fence is to examine it closely. Make sure there are no broken pieces, nails, or screws poking out. Remove any staples, stickers, or string left behind. This will ensure you have the smoothest possible finish and prevent it from stripping prematurely. Next, use the wood filler to fill in any cracks or imperfections on the surface.

Here are some tips on how to choose the best wood filler.

Step Three: Prep Your Wood

You’ll likely have to sand the surface of your fence before staining. If some sections are older, you will have to spend more time sanding and stripping to smooth out the roughness. Follow the instructions according to the manufacturer of the wood stripper you purchased, then use the stiff-bristle brush to remove the old finish and uneven fibers.

stiff bristle brush
Images credits: Weiler via Amazon

For a brand new fence, check if your fence is ready to absorb the stain. To do this, use a garden hose to spray a small section and observe how the water reacts. If it beads, sand it lightly until it penetrates. Penetration means that it is absorbent.

Next, use the power washer to remove any dirt that may have accumulated. If sections of the fence are old, it will also help to remove any finish that the wood stripper may have missed. Use the stiff-bristle brush to remove stubborn stains.

But What If You Come Across Gouges and Cracks?

While prepping, if you come across gouges or cracks, sand and clean the area you want to repair. Then take a putty knife and apply the wood filler starting from the edge of the damaged area working towards the opposite edge while pressing the filler into the crack or gauge. Once you have applied the necessary amount of filler, smooth the area with your putty knife and let it dry completely. Once dried, sand the area to make it smooth and even.

Step Four: Check Your Fence for Mold or Mildew

If your fence happens to have mold or mildew, be sure to spot treat it before staining. This is how the mold will appear:

Wear your gloves before mixing a solution of one part bleach to three parts water in your bucket. Apply the solution to the moldy areas with a sponge and let the diluted solution sit for a few minutes before power washing with water. Allow it to air dry or use an old towel to pat the area dry.

Step Five: Cover Anything You Don’t Want to Stain

This is where your drop cloth and painter’s tape come in. Use the drop cloth to cover any plants or garden fixtures you may have in the line of fire. Use the painter’s tape to protect parts of the fence that are not to be stained. This will help to make your clean-up much easier!

Man pulling off blue painters tape from a freshly painted wall.
Image credits: Duck Stores via Amazon

Step Six: Start Staining!

Use the roller or sprayer to apply the oil-based wood stain to your fence. This video will help you decide which to use:

A brush will come in handy for any area that is too small or tight for the roller and natural-bristle brushes will help the stain penetrate the wood better. Work in small sections to prevent lap marks or puddles. The motion you should use is similar to painting, i.e. in one direction. If you only have a roller, work in small sections and double-coat to allow the stain to penetrate hard-to-reach areas.

For those using the spray, stand at an appropriate distance from the fence and apply the stain in even layers.

Step Seven: Dry and Seal

Follow the manufacturer’s drying instructions before adding a new coat. If the color is not deep enough, apply another coat afterward. When you are satisfied with the appearance of your fence, apply your sealant to give it additional protection. This will make your fence waterproof and make it appear fresher longer.

Allow your stain to sit and dry for about 48 hours before you touch it. In the meantime, clean up your work area. Remove your drop cloth, painter’s tape, and any other tools you may have laying around. Once your fence has properly dried, you’ll only have to maintain it by giving it a power wash now and then.

A partially power-washed and partially stained backyard fence.
Daniel M. Hendricks via Flickr

Pros and Cons of Staining

If your aim is to improve the look of your wood projects, both indoors and outdoors, staining is a great way to achieve a fresh look. If you stain your fences once every two to three years, you’ll be able to preserve the look and utility of your fence! Here are some pros and cons of staining your fence:



Final Thoughts on How to Stain a Fence

Congratulations on getting the job done on your own! As with anything in life, it takes hard work and perseverance to achieve results. You’ll realize that this has helped you to save money you would have used to hire a professional and now you have a new skill. Remember to maintain your fence by staining it once every two to three years.

Don’t forget to share this post with anyone who might be having trouble with their fence.

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