Many homeowners don’t realize how easy it is to stain a wood fence, so that’s what I want to address in today’s lesson. First, I’d like to show you a fence staining picture that speaks for itself. Here’s a stain job I’m currently working on.
Image: Stained vs. unstained. Click here to enlarge
The fence in the foreground is mine. The one in the background is my neighbor’s. My fence is several years older, because our house was built first. You can see why I encourage homeowners to stain their wood fences every few years. The older fence looks brand new, while the younger fence looks much older. The secret is in the stain.
If you get a solid stain, instead of the semi-transparent products, you can protect and beautify the fence, all at once. I prefer the solid, because it hides all of those little nicks, scratches, holes and hail damage that can make a wood privacy fence look terrible.
The color I used above is called cedar natural tone, in case you’re curious. It’s made by Behr, and you can find it at Home Depot. They have to mix it for you, just like a can of paint.
How to Stain It – Sprayer vs. Roller
There are two ways to stain a wood privacy fence, and the option you choose will depend on your circumstances. You can rent a sprayer, or you can use the good old-fashioned roller / brush technique. I did the project shown above using a roller and a 2″ brush. It takes longer than the sprayer option (obviously), but it costs a lot less. It was also very windy for several days when I did this job, so a sprayer was out of the question. The wood stain would’ve ended up all over my house, my pool deck, my neighbor’s house, etc.
Here are some tips for staining a wood fence with a roller and brush:
- Choose a wood stain color. If you have a Home Depot nearby, you’re in luck. They have a huge selection of staining colors, because they can mix and tint the product to suit you. Choosing a color is largely subjective, but you need to consider your long-term plans. If you’re going to sell the home before the next stain job, you should choose a “standard” color that will appeal to the masses. That’s what I did in the fence-staining picture above (because we are selling the house soon).
- Buy some rollers. You want to get “thick-nap” roller pads that are designed for rough exterior surfaces. These are the only ones that can get down into the nooks and crannies. If you get the right kind of pads, you can literally cut the project time in half. If you’re going to stain your wood fence in a single day, then you’ll only need one or two roller pads. I spread my project over a week, so I bought extras.
- Buy a 2″ brush. You want one that’s designed for wood stains, if possible. Otherwise, any brush will work. This is for the small areas you can’t reach with the roller.
- Other items you’ll need: roller pan with extra liners, thick gloves to prevent blisters, ibuprofen
- If you choose a solid stain for your fence, you can probably get away with one coat. If you lay it on pretty thick the first time, you won’t have to do a second coat. Trust me, by the time you finish the first pass, you won’t want to do it again. So consider using a solid staining product, and put it on thick.
- You might want to clear the bottom of the fence of rocks, mulch, grass or anything else that’s in the way. This will make it easier to stain all the way down. If your fence extends downward into the lawn, you can simply mow the lawn with the mower on a low setting. Then you would stain the planks completely.
That’s really all there is to it. Staining a wood privacy fence is pretty straightforward, and the results speak for themselves. Good luck.