How to Apply Fence Stain on Timber Fences?

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How to Apply Fence Stain on Timber Fences? 

fence stain - how to apply

Are you planning to give your fences a beautiful fresh new look? If you’ve already chosen stain for your fence makeover, and wondering where and how to begin, then read on. 


Staining your timber fence will not only enhance the overall appearance of your fence line, but it will also add protection, improve durability and increase the value of your property. However, it’s also crucial to follow the correct process to stain your fences, so that the stain can give you its best performance and you don’t end up wasting any time, effort or money in your fence staining project. 


At Stock & Noble, we provide the finest fencing solutions to high-end properties across Australia and New Zealand. Our Master Blend Fence Paint range stands as a proven line of products, crafted through extensive market research and feedback from consumers. Based on our years of experience and expertise in the fence paint industry, we aim to educate you about the crucial steps to keep in mind before you begin staining the fences. 


In this blog, we will share a step-by-step guide on how to stain your fences. In the end, you will be confident to begin your project and achieve fresh beautiful-looking fences. 


Step #1: Preparing the Fence 

Just like with any wood finishing project, getting the prep work right is as important as putting on the finish itself. To make sure you get a smooth and even finish, you need to do 3 things:


1. Assess Moisture Levels 

Ensure Proper Dryness: New fence sections, often made from pressure-treated wood, need to be completely dry for effective staining. 


2. Clean Old Wood Sections 

Dirt and Stain Removal: Clean old wood fence sections to eliminate dirt, mildew, and streaks that can hinder the staining process. 

Pressure Washer Usage: When cleaning, consider using a pressure washer but opt for a low-powered unit not exceeding 2000 psi to prevent damage to the timber rails. 


3. Drying for Success 

Allow Ample Drying Time: After cleaning, allow the fence to thoroughly dry before moving on to the staining phase for optimal results. 


Step #2: Choosing the Right Stain 

When it comes to staining your fence, selecting the right stain is crucial for long-lasting results. There are two primary types to consider: water-based and oil-based, each with its advantages and drawbacks. 


Water-Based Stains 


1. Effective Penetration:

Water-based stains excel at penetrating the wood, allowing the fence to breathe. This permits any trapped moisture within the wood to escape, preventing potential issues. 


2. Enhanced Colour:

These stains offer vibrant and deep colours, enhancing the overall appearance of your fence. 


3. Low Toxicity:

Water-based stains are generally less harmful due to their low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 


4. Compatibility:

They can be applied over previous oil finishes, providing versatility in application. 


Oil-Based Stains


1. Longer Lasting:

Oil-based stains provide a robust protective layer, ensuring they endure the test of time. 


2. Weather Resistance:

They are more resistant to precipitation and harsh weather conditions, offering extended durability. 


3. Limitations:

Oil-based stains may not adhere well to prior water-based finishes, so caution is needed if you’re uncertain about the existing fence finish. 


4. Higher VOC Levels:

It’s important to note that oil-based stains typically contain higher levels of VOCs, which can pose health risks, so use them with care. 


Step #3: Choosing the Appropriate Attire 

Staining can be a messy and physically demanding task but having the right gear can significantly simplify the process and keep you comfortable. 


Protective Gloves

Ensure you have several pairs of chemically resistant gloves, such as latex or rubber, on hand. These gloves will shield your hands from stains and keep them clean throughout the staining process. 


Work Clothes

It’s advisable not to wear your best clothing while staining. Go for old vacation t-shirts and worn-out jeans, as they are likely to catch a stray stain drip or two without causing concern. 

Consider donning a pair of old sneakers or sturdy hiking boots to protect your feet and provide traction while working. 


Respirator for VOC Sensitivity

If you are particularly sensitive to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it’s a good practice to wear a respirator, even when using water-based stains. VOCs can lead to airway irritation, headaches, light-headedness, and other adverse reactions. Prioritising your safety is essential. 


Step #4: Selecting the Right Tools 

When it comes to staining a timber fence, the choice of tools plays a vital role in achieving the best results. Consider your personal preferences and the specific characteristics of the space you’re working on. 



Quick Coverage: Sprayers excel at applying stains quickly over large areas. They are particularly useful for post and rail fences with extensive square footage. 

Consider Space: Keep in mind that sprayers can be unwieldy in tight corners, and overspray can be a concern. Evaluate your workspace before opting for this tool. 



Essential Utility: Brushes are almost always a necessity in the staining process. They are invaluable for pushing stains into tight crevices and for addressing any globs or runs that may occur. 



Wide Rollers: Wide rollers are a handy choice when dealing with closely-set rails and posts, allowing for efficient coverage in these areas. 

Smaller Rollers: Consider using smaller rollers for staining individual rails and areas close to the ground, offering better control for precision work. 

Remember to factor in your fence and the nuances of your project when making your tool selection. 


Step #5: Choosing the Ideal Weather Conditions 

The success of any outdoor staining project hinges on the weather, and it’s essential to select the right conditions for the best results. Here are some guidelines to help you find the perfect weather window: 


Rain and Humidity

Select a day free from rain or high humidity levels. Ideally, opt for semi-pleasant weather with temperatures ranging between 10 and 28 degrees Celsius and minimal wind. 


Allow for Dry Days

Although many stains become rain-ready within four to eight hours, it’s wise to wait for several consecutive dry days. This ensures that the fence is thoroughly dry before starting and allows time for additional coats if needed. 


Avoid Direct Sunlight

Staining in direct sunlight is not advisable, as the sun can dry the stain too rapidly, hindering proper wood penetration and protection. 


Seasonal Considerations

Hot weather can diminish productivity, leading to prolonged staining projects. It’s often best to schedule staining during the more temperate seasons of spring or autumn, avoiding the sweltering heat of summer. 


Similarly, colder temperatures should be avoided, as wood contracts in the cold, limiting pore size and impeding optimal stain penetration. Stains also take longer to dry in cold conditions, potentially causing issues like drips or runs in the finish. 


Step #6: Achieving an Even Stain Application 

Applying an even coat of stain is a critical step in the staining process, and the technique you use depends on your chosen tool. Here’s how to achieve even coats with different tools: 


Using a Sprayer

  • Maintain a consistent distance of approximately six to 10 inches from the fence while spraying. 
  • Move the sprayer in an up-and-down motion, ensuring that each pass overlaps the previous one to prevent dry spots, uneven coverage, and missed areas. 
  • Angle the sprayer into corners, but avoid over-application by slightly pulling back when necessary. 


Using a Brush

  • Dip the brush’s bristles approximately three-quarters of an inch into the stain can, tapping off any excess. 
  • Apply the stain to one rail at a time, making sure to overlap your brush strokes and maintain a “wet edge.” 
  • Replenish the brush with more stain from the can as needed, especially when the bristles begin to dry out. 


Using a Roller

  • Pour the stain into the bottom of a paint tray. 
  • Load the roller by gently dragging it up the tray and rolling it in the stain. 
  • Apply the stain using either up-and-down or side-to-side motions, similar to the technique used with a brush. 


After staining the entire fence, allow it to dry according to the stain manufacturer’s instructions. Apply additional coats as necessary to achieve the desired depth of colour.  

Typically, a single coat is sufficient for new wood fences or those intended for sealing as well. 


Ready to Stain Your Timber Fences? 

In this blog, we’ve shared a step-by-step guide on how to stain your fences effectively. By following these steps, you can embark on your project with confidence, knowing that you’ll achieve beautiful, and long-lasting fences that enhance the appeal and value of your property. 


From preparing your fence to choosing the right stain, attire, tools, and ideal weather conditions, we’ve covered the essentials for a successful staining project. Remember that achieving an even stain application is the key to a stunning finish, and the technique varies depending on your chosen tool. 


So, roll up your sleeves, gather your materials, and embark on your fence-staining journey with assurance, knowing that your hard work will pay off in the form of stunning, long-lasting timber fences. If you’re still not sure whether fence stain is the right finish for your fences, then do check out a detailed comparison between fence paint and fence stain. It’ll help you gain clarity and make the right decision for your property and your vision. 


Whether you’re staining a new wood fence or sealing an existing one, our comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge needed to transform your timber fences and elevate the aesthetics of your property. If you have more questions related to timber fence paints or stains connect with our experts. They will answer all your queries in detail and guide you to create your dream property. 

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