Our Complete Guide on How to Stain Your Wood Fence

Staining is a great way to make your fence last longer, and it’s a fun DIY project to try if you want to change the look. Fences are very sturdy and great for offering more privacy and security to your home. Over time the wood can break, bend, experience wood rot, and lose its original shine. 


Staining your fence will bring it back to life. Some stains can last 30 years or more, depending on the type of wood. Fence staining is a simple task with the right materials and instructions. Today, Carnahan-White teaches the complete guide on how to stain your wood fence.       


Stain Your Wooden Fence in the Right Weather Conditions


Like many outdoor projects, weather plays a key role. You want to ensure your wood is completely dry before attempting to stain it. If you have just installed a brand new wooden fence, wait up to 2 weeks before staining. Hardwood is naturally porous and needs time to open up so the stain can penetrate deeper into the wood and absorb more color. If the weather is too hot outside, the stain will dry too quickly without blending correctly. If there is too much moisture in the air, the stain will bubble. Check the weekly weather to ensure it won’t rain the next day. If you are not sure the wood is dry enough, a wood moisture meter can help.  


Make Sure the Wood is in Good Condition


Your wood must be in good condition before staining. Repair any chips, cracks, loose boards, or nails. If some boards feel rough, you can sand them down for a smoother surface. If you are unsure about the condition of your wood, get a professional opinion if you want to learn how to stain your wood fence properly. 


Pressure Wash Your Wooden Fence


Pressure washing your wood is the next step to ensure it is free of dirt and debris. Cleaning the wood is an optional step, but be warned you do not want to stain unclean wood. It affects the look of the fence if dirt gets clumped in the staining solution. 


If you choose to clean your fence, try using a wood conditioner for thorough fence maintenance. After cleaning the wood, wait for it to dry completely before starting the process. In hot areas, it should only take a couple of hours. Use your moisture meter to check or wait it out. 


Protect Your Grass and Landscaping Before Staining


Remember you want to stain only your fence, so lay down a protective barrier as a precaution. Use protective tape to cover any areas you don’t want to dye and ensure it isn’t a very windy day if you plan on using an air sprayer. 


Choose Your Stain


The most common stain solutions for staining your wooden fence include oil-based and water-based stains. Most staining solutions last between 3-5 years and may require additional staining in-between years. The type you choose depends on your personal preference and your goals. 


Pros and Cons of Oil-based Stains 




  • Reduced maintenance 
  • Less reapplication 
  • Easy to apply
  • Takes less effort 



  • It takes a long time to dry
  • More flammable than water-based


Pros and Cons of Water-based Stains




  • It protects the wood better
  • Can extend the life of your wood
  • Lasts longer 
  • Paintable over oil-based stains




  • Must treat and condition wood before applying


A lot of wood staining products have temperature restrictions. Find a staining product that you can use any time of the year, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. 


Choose the Right Materials For Staining Your Wood 


There are a variety of materials available for staining your wood. You can pick from rollers, paintbrushes, air sprayers, and more. Any tool can get the job done, but it’s essential to choose the most effective one for your end goal. 


Rollers can strain the arms from painting from the top and the bottom of the fence. Also, depending on your painting tool, you will have to repeatedly apply the stain to penetrate the wood properly and even it out. 


Paint sprayers speed up the task of wood staining and deliver a nice even coat. You can rent a paint sprayer at your local hardware or home improvement store for residential fencing. 


How to Stain a Wood Fence: Applying the Stain  


After choosing the staining product and color, it’s time to work! Apply the stain to your painting tool and slowly paint each board. Work your way from the top down and spread the color out evenly. Read your product label to determine how many coats are needed. 


A high-quality stain will only need one, but you may need more than one for other brands. Apply the stain as generously as possible without causing it to clump or bubble up. This method will allow the color to penetrate the fence, giving it a bolder and brighter look.  


What to do After Staining Your Fence 


Once you’ve finished staining, it’s time to leave the fence alone. This rest period is the most critical part of your staining process. Avoid touching the area, getting it wet, or interacting until the stain has fully set. The setting process may take between 24-48 hours. 


Seal Your Fence After Staining


If you want to keep your fence lasting longer, apply a sealant. Combining both products will further the lifespan of your fence. This step isn’t necessary, but it’s a good option for an additional layer of protection. Like staining, apply the sealant from top to bottom, coating the entire fence. Let it dry and enjoy long-term protection. 

Related Links: Fence-Staining FAQs

Clean-Up All Your Items 


After staining and sealing your fence, gather all your items. Remove the protective cloth over your landscaping and soak your brushes in a mineral solution to avoid paintbrush damage. 


Carnahan-White is the Top Fencing Company for the Ozarks

There you have it! Our complete guide on how to stain your wood fence. Carnahan-White is your number one provider if you want to install a fence for your residential or commercial property. We have serviced the Ozark area for over a decade and pride ourselves as a trusted community member. For more information on building wooden, chain-link, ironwork fences, and more, visit our website or call (417) 883-0733 to request a quote.