How to Seal and Stain Wood Fence? – Everything You Need to Know

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It is needless to say that fencing your garden or yard is of utmost importance. Doing so can not only help secure your garden from intruders, giving it a great look but also keep your pets safe and within the boundary. However, wood fencing can come with a considerable investment. Hence, it is crucial to do everything to last long and strong.

We know that new fences can make you go ga ga. But with time and eventual wear and tear, it may need some serious makeover. As a result, sealing, painting, or staining wood fences becomes essential to give them a renovated look.

How to Seal and Stain Wood Fence - Everything You Need to Know
Image Credit: Painted wooden fence from Pinterest

Moisture can be a wood fence’s worst enemy, causing the wood to rot. You’ll also be preventing corrosion and pest damage, as well as slowing decay by keeping the fence in good shape. That said, keep an eye on your wood fencing to see if it’s showing signs of weather damage, especially if you’re living in a hot and humid climate.

To assist you, we’ve put together a list of simple steps that illustrate how the sealing and staining procedure should function. Although you can pay a professional to complete the task, if you follow the steps outlined below, you will be able to complete it in no time.

Why Seal And Stain Your Wood Fence?

Image Credit: Old vs. newly painted wooden fence from Pinterest

My wood fencing looks pretty good. Do I really need to think about sealing and staining it?

Yes, you should, especially if it has been a long since you installed it and lived in humid and rainy regions. As mentioned before, moisture and rain can eventually damage the wood. In addition, it is a natural habit of woods to expand when wet and contract as it dries out. This process, however, can cause cracks on the surface, eventually damaging your lovely wood fence.

Besides this, the sun’s damaging UV rays can cause fading away of the color warping if the wood is not properly treated. Molds, fungus, and rotting are other issues to note. Hence, a high-quality sealer or stainer can save the life of your wood fence, along with revamping its look.

Steps to Seal and Stain Wood Fence 

Image Credit: Steps to stain and paint a wooden fence from Pinterest

Wooden fencing is an attractive feature of any home. Due to its aesthetic appeal, wood has become the archetypal fencing material in today’s housing environment. On the other hand, wood is a natural material that matures over time, leading to decay. But don’t panic; staining and sealing an old fence is one of the most effective ways to bring it back to life and safeguard it.

To keep your fence in good shape for as long as possible, you should try staining and painting as part of your routine fence care. And to assist you in this, we have listed the top ways of undertaking this activity on your own.

#1. Select the Right Day

Select The Right Day
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Before gearing up to renovate your fence, you must choose the right day.

It is suggested that you check the weekly (local) weather forecast and pick a day with temperatures within 80 degrees, low to medium humidity, and no rainfall expected in the following 24 hours. It would be best to avoid chilly and humid weather because it will slow down the drying process.

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#2. Clean the Surface

Clean The Surface
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The next step is to clean and prepare the fence surface. To do so, you may need to strip or sand the surface. This will ensure that there is no seal or stain on the fence.

Aside from that, you’ll need to use a garden hose with a high-pressure spray nozzle to clean the fence’s surface with water. Light dirt and debris can be removed using a spray wash. Before continuing further, make absolutely sure the wood is dry.

If you’re staining or painting a new fence, however, you’ll want to give it plenty of time to dry. You can use the above-mentioned water-bead test to see if your wooden fence is dry and ready for operation.

In any case, the wooden surface needs to be absolutely dry to let the stain or paint penetrate properly. 

#3. Wear the Necessary Gear

Wear The Necessary Gear
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Fence staining and sealing is a time-consuming task. It could take up to several hours, depending on the size of your fence. As a result, you must prepare yourself to complete the assignment properly. This means putting on the proper protection gear, such as boots, gloves, and an apron. In addition, if you plan to spray your fence, you must wear protective eyewear and a mask to avoid inhaling any fumes. Furthermore, if you’re working on a hot day, make something to shield you from the sun’s rays.

#4. Prepare the Stain

Prepare The Stain
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After preparing yourself, it’s time to prepare the stain. 

It would be a pity to devote so much time and effort to staining your fence just to be disappointed with the outcome. 

Fence stain protects wood from harmful UV radiation by acting as a sunscreen. Additionally, a good fence stain’s sealing characteristics assist the wood in resisting dampness and rotting. As a result, it’s critical to concentrate on finding the ideal stain for your wooden fence.

Fence stains are usually divided into two categories: oil-based and water-based. You can choose any type based on your needs after learning about their particular benefits and drawbacks. In terms of mixing, you can consult the user handbook for guidance.

#5. Spot-Treat Mold or Mildew

Spot-Treat Mold Or Mildew
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It’s best to spot treat mold or fungus deposits on the fence surface with a water-bleach solution before staining or painting it. 

You can apply the bleach solution to the planks using a garden sprayer and rubber gloves. After finishing your task, allow the solution to settle for a few minutes before rinsing the fence with a high-pressure spray nozzle.

Also, if you find cracks, cuts, and fissures in the fence, ensure to fill them with wooden fillers. Whatever you do, ensure that the wood surface is completely dry before painting it.

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#6. pH Neutralizer

 pH Neutralizer
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Cleaners are commonly found to raise the pH level of the wood. As a result, it is recommended to neutralize it. After you’ve cleaned the fence, use an acidic wood brightener to restore it. A wood brightener will brighten up your fence while aiding better stain penetration.

#7. Paint Your Fence 

Paint Your Fence
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After finishing up the preparations, it’s time to start with the painting task. However tedious it may look, we can ensure this is the fun part of the whole process, as you can use your creativity to combine two-three paints and create an amazing color effect.

Whatever you choose to do, you must follow the below-written steps to ensure a smooth paint application.

  • Instead of using a paintbrush, it is better to use a roller or a sprayer. 
  • Spread drop cloths on the ground beneath the fence to avoid staining surroundings.
  • Start by staining a broad area by using a ½-inch nap roller.
  • To stain the narrow surfaces, you can use 4-inch-wide trim.
  • If using a paint sprayer, make sure to operate it vertically on the fence.

#8. Let the Stain Dry

Let The Stain Dry
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After applying the first layer, please wait for some time to dry it up completely. Afterward, you can add an extra coat to get a deeper color effect. This is, however, an optional step, which you can skip, if you want.

#9. Use a Coating Sealer

Use A Coating Sealer
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After completing the initial staining of the wooden fence, you should focus on applying a durable sealant to get a better finish and paint durability. You can use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply a clean coat of waterproof sealant on your newly stained wooden fence. You can also back-brush unsealed grooves and recesses on the wooden surface to get an overall homogenous look. Afterward, allow for complete drying of the sealant.

#10. Clean up the Mess

Clean Up The Mess
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After you are all done with your painting and sealing activity, now it’s time to clean up the mess, if any.

Remove the painter’s film from the planks, discard the drop cloths and clean other paint equipment. Now it’s time to show- off your new and revamped fence to the world!

It’s important to check the weather after you are done with your task. We say so because a freshly painted wooden fence takes around 4 hours to dry sufficiently to endure the rain. So, if it’s going to rain, don’t even consider starting the painting project. It’s also a good idea to avoid staining in direct sunlight, as the harsh rays can produce streaking.

Which is the Right Time to Seal and Stain Wood Fences?

Which Is The Right Time To Seal And Stain Wood Fences?
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So, you have made up your mind to seal and stain your wood fence. But do you know when is the right time to carry out the activity? 

We cannot mark you the right time in this context. The length of time to wait before sealing or staining your fence would depend on various factors, like the type of wood you have installed, the local weather, season, etc. 

However, when considering how long to wait before treating your wood fence, there are a few basic rules to follow. Many specialists agree that the process should be repeated every 2-3 years. However, before staining or sealing your fence, we recommend that you consider the type of wood and wait for the appropriate time.

That being said, you can check if your fence is aptly dry and ready for staining and sealing. For this, you can conduct a water test. First, you should dampen the top surface of your fence with a little water to do the test. Then, wait and check later if the water beads up. But if the water seeps into the wood, you should know that the wood has sufficiently dried and is appropriate for staining or sealing.

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Things you will Need

After you have checked the aptness of your fence, now it is time to gather all the materials you would need to start with the process. To start with, you would need the following stuff:

  • Paint roller
  • Paint sprayer
  • Brush
  • Ladder
  • Fence stain
  • Drop Cloths
  • Garden Hose
  • Bucket
  • Gloves
  • Sandpaper

Mistakes to Avoid

Image Credit: Precautions are a must while staining your fence from Pinterest

While painting and sealing your wooden fence is an important thing to do, avoid the following mistakes to save yourself from any disappointment. 

#1. Staining Fence Wrong Day

One of the major mistakes that people often make, marring their whole painting experience, is choosing the wrong day to paint their fence. As mentioned above, moisture, rain, and direct sun rays can harshly impact the staining process. 

Your fence can remain wet, or the paint may fail to penetrate the surface. Hence, never choose to begin your painting project if there is any rain forecast. Also, too cold or too hot weather is not suitable. 

#2. Lack of Preparation

Before beginning the actual painting activity, you must first set the stage with preparatory work. You can start staining once you’ve cleaned things up and brushed away any old stain, dirt, or debris from your fence surface. And if you dye a fungus-infested or deformed wood surface, the end effect will undoubtedly disappoint you. 

#3. Choosing the Wrong Stain

Another mistake you can commit is choosing the wrong stain or paint. Although it may be tough to decide which dye would be the best to use, you can talk to any fence expert or hardware store executive to learn more. 

That being said, oil-based stains penetrate better, look fantastic, and function well in nearly any climate. Furthermore, an oil-based stain helps wooden fences to breathe organically and absorb moisture naturally.

#4. No Checks

Now, fence checks are important before as well as post staining. It will help if you keep a close eye on your wooden fences in the autumn and winter months, when hails and storms can put added pressure on your fence. In the absence of these routine inspections, you may be faced with a slew of unpleasant maintenance duties down the road.

#5. Not Following the Safety Precautions

This should possibly be the first thing to check before starting any painting task. It would help if you remember that staining or painting a wooden fence can be a tedious task where you will generate a lot of wastes, stains, etc., and a lack of preventive measures can lead to accidents. 

Some of the important preventive measures to focus on may include:

  • Use protective gloves
  • Wear a protective eyeglass
  • Choose a well-ventilated area to work in
  • Wear a mask
  • Keep stain removing clothes around
  • Wash off your hand once you are done


So, you see, staining and sealing a wooden fence is a pretty simple task, for which you don’t need professional help. But of course, you can seek expert advice before starting your task. And our steps above are always there to help you out.

To uphold your fence’s shine and weather-resistant properties, we recommend staining it every two to three years. In addition, regular maintenance on your wood fence can extend its life by several years. Hence, once you are done with your project, it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the newly painted wooden fence. That’s all there is to it.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and inspect your fence, and if necessary, prepare to dirty your hands with some major painting projects.

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