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5 Tips For Staining A Fence

Backyard with stained wood fence, flower bed and grass in foreground.

Thinking of staining a fence? Here are the lessons I’ve learned and 5 tips for staining a fence. Read on for the stain fence how to.

When we first moved into our house we were so focused on the interior, like finishing our fireplace remodel, bathroom tile, and kitchen breakfast nook . Our son was a busy toddler and during his naps I would carve out time to do some outdoor projects. I started to work outside when the weather turned warm and it was a nice escape for me to decompress.

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The state of the fence when we moved in.

Cedar fence with overgrown grass and demolition debris in foreground.

Before I could start the fun stuff, I had to clean up our demolition debris. I made piles for hauling and had to comb through the grass to make sure nails and screws were picked up. I wanted a usable yard for that busy toddler I mentioned above!

The team who painted our house exterior was very nice and they power washed this fence when they washed our house. This removed all of the moss and dirt you see above. It made a HUGE difference and that is why it is my first tip!

1. Power wash your fence before staining.

Cedar fence in backyard after a power wash.

If you are you are wanting to stain a new fence, you may not need to power wash. To stain an old fence however, will need a thorough scrubbing. A power washer can remove grime effectively and quickly, so you can get to staining in less time.

2. Read wood stain instructions before buying.

Wood staining supplies: paint brush, gloves, paint stirrer, paint tray and can of wood stain.

Read the label of your wood stain to read about things like recommended temperature and dry time.

4. Check the weather report before you start to stain.

Gloved hand hold wood paint stirrer and stirring can of brown wood stain.

The first time I did any fence staining was in the summer and it was dry and warm. The second and third time I did fence staining, the weather was a bit more unpredictable as it was late winter. I made sure to check that we had a stretch of dry days with temps that met manufacturer’s instructions.

Luckily, Seattle is mild compared to other parts of the world. Although I am a wimp and think the winters are too cold, they are nothing compared to mid-west or northeast winters!

Wet humid weather can mean longer dry times, whereas very hot weather can lead to streaks from shorter dry times.

4. Use a paint sprayer to stain your fence.

Woman staining a cedar wood fence with a paint brush.

I know, I know I am not using a paint sprayer in this photo. Learn from my sore wrists and hands ha ha.

This is a section of fence we had to replace after a snow storm took down one fence panel. Since it isn’t a huge area, I used a brush that we had on hand.

Truth be told, we haven’t actually used a sprayer on our fence. But, we have one more long length of fence to replace and I definitely plan to use a sprayer on that part. Brushing a fence can be so tiring on your arms and hands!

5. If you have a new fence, test if it is ready for stain.

Hand in black latex glove holding a paint brush, applying stain to a wood fence.

Many online sources will suggest to wait one to two months before staining a new wood fence, depending on wood type.

Confession time.

When we had to replace the one panel after the branch fell on it, I did not wait that long.

What can I say? I am impatient.

I did test the wood before I started the staining. If you apply water or stain and it beads up, you need to wait longer. If the wood absorbs the water or stain, you are good to go.

FAQ – 5 Tips For Staining A Fence

Cedar wood fence in process of being stained. Staining supplies on ground.

How often should I stain my fence?

The timeline is dependent on a few factors. Does your fence get full sun exposure for the majority of the day? What condition is the fence in overall? After my first round of stain, it is still holding up well after about three years. This fence is north facing and does not get a ton of sun at all. The wood is cedar and in good condition to begin with.

My south facing fence may not fare as well. Stay tuned…

Should I paint, stain or leave my fence natural?

This is partially a personal preference. A lot of historic homes look so charming with a painted fence. Hello white picket fence!

Other things to consider are maintenance and costs. Paint will be more labor intensive, especially the repaint process which will require scraping the old paint.

If you like the aged natural look, this works best on high quality woods like a cedar or spruce. Power washing will be needed to clean off moss, dirt and the like.

Does paint/stain protect a wood fence?

Yes, either will help to protect against rot, insects and wear and tear.

Old and new fence panels side by side.

Stained cedar wood fence with diamond pattern trellis. Planter bed in foreground with oak leaf hydrangea.

The panel on the right was stained a few years ago. The panel on the left is the newer panel. Is the difference very apparent? Would you have noticed if I didn’t point it out?

Pin 5 Tips For Staining A Fence to save for later!

Paint brush staining cedar wood fence.

Thanks for reading! Hope you found these tips helpful! Hope you visit our casa again soon

Check out more of our outdoor projects!

Try out a DIY Easy espalier trellis.

Speaking of fences, you have to see how a picket fence was upcycled and repurposed.

Before starting a garden, read this post.

5 Tips For Staining A Fence

31 thoughts on “5 Tips For Staining A Fence”

    1. Thank you so much! Even just the power washing made a big difference, but the stain really made it look different. No, the jasmine vine is very pliable & easy to twist on to the trellis.

  1. Oh wow, your fence looks beautiful. You’re so industrious over there. Looking out the window at my fence … shame shame shame. I really like how you’re training pretty vine to grow across the fence. It’s beautiful. xo

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  3. Marie, we rebuilt one of the long fences and stained by hand in 2020. Your tip on a paint sprayer would have been so helpful!
    Thanks for sharing at the FWF link party.

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