Whether you are painting or staining, doing fence work is not easy. There is a reason Tom Sawyer tricked his peers into doing it for him.
At the same time, there is also a reason people do it in the first place. It is incredibly rewarding, especially at the end. There are few feelings like the satisfaction that comes from standing back and marveling at a job well done.
Staining a fence presents unique challenges that are different from fence painting. Bringing out the natural beauty in your wooden fence is more than a matter of finding a roller and a bucket of paint.
We have collected seven of the most pertinent tips for fence staining. There is a theme you will see running through all of these suggestions. That theme? Staining a fence takes time, care, and deliberation.
With a little thought on the front end, you can save yourself a lot of time in fixes on the back end. Read on to learn about the things you must do before and during the wood fence staining process.
7 Tips You Will Want to Remember in the Process of Staining a Fence
1. Don’t Skimp on Your Prep
This is a good rule for any home project. It is especially true when it comes to fence staining.
If you are staining your fence, there is usually a good reason for it. Often, that reason is age. And an old fence can come with a lot of mess.
What do we mean by mess? We are talking about cobwebs, and we are talking about dirt. If you do not wash these things off before you begin the staining process, they will become permanent parts of your fence.
All it takes is a little pressure washing or even hosing down to clear your fence of these bits of grime and debris. You will be glad you did it.
2. Remove Little Obstacles
Once you have completed the initial cleaning, it is time to inspect your fence further. There are all sorts of imperfections that can get in the way of staining, and you want to remove as many of them as you can.
These imperfections can include nails, screws, staples, and even bits of broken fence. These things will get in the way of the job and even damage your brush or roller. You do not have to mend your fence before applying the stain, though we highly recommend it.
3. Invest in High-Quality Paint Brushes
Now it is time to talk about your tools. We are going to recommend you not even consider the ratty old paint brushes you have laying around your garage. Forget about them, and go straight to the hardware store for nice brushes.
Old paint brushes often have residue from previous jobs that can come off quite easily during staining. Plus, the wear makes an old paint brush a bad fit for a job in which a clean line and precision are such high priorities. A quality brush can last for years if properly cleaned and cared for.
Brush manufacturers will have different brushes available for the different coatings. Make sure to get one suitable to the job.
For larger projects, we will use a sprayer to apply a stain to a fence. This gives a nice uniform finish, but is best left to the pros if you don’t have experience using a sprayer.
4. Look for Specific Qualities in Your Stain
Not all wood stains are created equal. This job is not just about beautifying your fence. It is also about protecting it.
This means you want a stain that is strong in addition to aesthetically pleasing. Here are a few of the qualities you can look for in a wood stain:
- UV protection
- Resistance to mildew and algae
- Urethane fortification
This last feature adds toughness to a stain, and therefore, your fence. If you want to make sure your stain lasts a long time, seek out this type of fortification. Quality stains from Sherwin Williams, Cabot, and others will give you better protection and longer life.
Once you’ve decided on what you most want out of your stain, it is time to start painting it on.
5. Watch Out for Inclement Weather
One of the benefits of a wood stain is that it protects your fence from rain. You know what hampers that process quite a bit? Staining wet wood, or letting rain ruin a stain job right in the middle of it. As the stain dries, the moisture in the wood will try to come out and cause bubbles and other issues in your nicely finished fence.
To avoid these pitfalls, make sure you stay informed about the weather during the days you plan to stain your fence.
Do not start staining if it has rained recently, and avoid starting right before inclement weather too. Your waterproofing does not do much good if it does not have a chance to dry before it sets in. A hard rain can wash your stain right away. Check the stain can for drying times and other recommendations.
6. Drop Cloths and Drip Cloths Are Your Friends
Just because this project takes place outside does not mean you have to be messy with it. There are a couple key ways you can make a mess while staining a fence, and keeping the appropriate cloths nearby will help you avoid them.
First, you can spill or splatter stain on the ground next to your fence. This is not a great tragedy, but it is not great for your lawn or landscaping. Since you can, you might as well lay down a drop cloth beneath the area where you are working to keep your work tidy.
The other place you can make a mess is with the stain job itself. If you go too fast, the stain can splatter. As the stain starts to dry, this splatter forms spots on the fence.
If you carry a drip cloth as you work, you can quickly wipe away these spots before they ruin the uniformity of your stain job.
7. Take Your Time
Staining a fence is not a race. If you spend an extra few hours or days on the project, you will reap the rewards of a beautiful fence for years.
We have already mentioned that rushing can lead to unsightly splatter. It can also result in a shoddy, half-finished look when you only apply one coat of stain. A well-stained fence should include at least two coats.
Accept the fact that this project may take a little extra time, and you will be pleased with the final results.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone!
These tips for a staining a fence should make it easy for you to move through the process confidently. With the right tools and mindset, you can create a beautifully stained fence. Your old fence will look new again.
Need help with colors for your fence? Check out our article on fence stain colors here.
This does not have to be a solo job. Take a look at our wood staining services for more help on your fence staining project.