How to Stain a Fence

A dark oak stained wooden fence lines a well manicured lawn

When you stain your fence, you want to make sure that you do it right. Fortunately, all it takes are a few simple steps and careful attention to make sure that your wood fence is stained correctly. Here are the steps for how to stain a fence:

1. Check the Weather

To make sure that the wood stain can dry correctly, you need to make sure that you stain your fence under the optimal weather conditions. First, you want to make sure that there’s no rain expected for the next 24 hours. Next, you need the outside temperatures to be between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, you need there to be low to moderate humidity outside. Once these conditions are met, you can go ahead and start working on your fence.

2. Strip or Sand Fencing (If Necessary)

If you’ve previously stained, varnished, or painted your fence, you’ll want to strip off any finish that’s remaining before you apply a new coat of wood stain. Simply use finish stripper and a stiff bristle brush to scrub off any varnish, stain, or paint that’s remaining on the fence.

New fences may have a water sealant applied to them. To determine if your new wood fence has such a sealant, lightly spray a small area of the fence with water and see if the water beads or soaks into the wood. If it beads, you’ll need to lightly sand the fence (in the direction of the grain) before you can stain it.

3. Clean the Fence

You never want to apply stain to a dirty fence. Wood fence stain will only trap any dirt and particulates existing on the fencing, and that grime may even cause the stain to not stick. Here’s a step-by-step guide for cleaning a wood fence, whether you want to use a power washer or do it by hand.

4. Fix Any Damage

You want to make sure that your fence is in good shape before staining it. If you have any broken slats, you should go ahead and replace them. Chips or cracks in your wood fence should be patched with a wood filler. If you have any screws or staples in your fence, remove them and patch any large holes they may leave behind.

5. Protect Surrounding Vegetation

Before applying the wood stain to your fence, you want to make sure that none of it will fall on and damage your plants. Place a drop cloth on any plants surrounding the fence so that they’ll be protected from dripping wood stain.

6. Apply the Fence Stain

To apply the wood fence stain, you can use a paintbrush, a roller, or a sprayer.

Paintbrush

Using a paintbrush is the best way to stain a fence, though it also takes the most time. First, you’ll want to stain the horizontal slats from left to right. Make sure that you use a paintbrush that’s as wide as the slats so that you don’t have to go back over areas and create darker lines in the center of the wood slat. Then, use the same method to stain the vertical slats of your fence.

Roller

If you opt to use a paint roller, choose one with a medium nap cover. Fully saturate the roller with wood stain and make long, even strokes up and down the vertical slats and across the horizontal slats. If you miss a spot, it’s much better to go over it with a paintbrush than with the roller.

Sprayer

You should also use long, even strokes if you choose to apply the wood stain using a sprayer. You’ll want to stand a comfortable distance back before starting to apply the stain. And just as with the roller, it’s best to go back over spots you missed with a paintbrush, rather than with the sprayer.

7. Let the Wood Fence Dry

After you stain your fence, give it time to dry. You should find instructions on the wood stain container for how long you should let it dry.

8. Apply a Wood Sealant (If you Want)

Wood fence stain will protect your fence well on its own, but for added protection, consider adding a wood sealant as well. Use the same method that you used to apply the stain in order to apply the sealant.

If your fence looks so run down that even staining won’t improve it, it may be time to consider a new one. In that case, you should contact Rustic Fence Specialists. We have over 50 years of experience building and installing fences, and we’ll make sure that you get a brand new fence that looks great for years to come.