How to Stain & Seal a Fence


Over the ages, wooden fences have served a three-fold purpose. They have kept out the unwanted drifters, they have contained the horses and cattle, and they have provided for an aesthetically pleasing landscape decoration. The problem is that wooden fences are exposed to the elements of nature, such as rain, snow and sun, and they require a certain amount of maintenance to keep them in good shape. If you wish for your fence to have longevity, then you must stain and seal the wood for protection. When staining and sealing a wooden fence, there are many different things to consider. The job is not difficult nor time-consuming, and, by following a few simple steps, you will find the results to be pleasing and practical.

Things You'll Need

  • Stain
  • Sealer/protective finish
  • Pump sprayer
  • Rubber gloves
  • Mixing stick
  • Determine the amount of fence to be stained and sealed. Multiply the length of the fence by the height of the fence. Because a fence is rarely solid wood, only take 1/2 of the final square footage for the fencing. For example, if you have a fence 20 feet long and 5 feet high, then multiply 20 by 5 and you get 100. Divide that by 1/2 and you get 50. The total square footage is 50 square feet.

  • Choose the color and amount of stain necessary for your application. After deciding on the color of stain that you wish to use, you may also choose the finish/sealer type. Choose flat, semi gloss or gloss, depending on your preference. There will be a coverage chart on the side of the stain and sealer cans. Use that chart to determine the amount necessary for your particular job based on your square footage. Also, remember that if you choose water-based stain, then you must choose water-based sealer. The stain and sealer/finish must match, and they must be exterior. Plan on applying two coats of stain and sealer, so that means that you will need to double the amounts when figuring the square footage.

  • Shake the can of stain vigorously and open the top. Make sure that the stain is mixed consistently. If it has not mixed well, there will be a layer of light colored liquid on the top.

  • Pour the entire contents of the can into the pump sprayer. Pump the sprayer until you reach the desired pressure, and spray on the stain. It may be necessary to go over the application with a brush. If any stain runs, then just brush over the stain quickly. Follow the drying time instruction on the can, and reapply the second coat.

  • Shake the sealer vigorously with the lid on the can. Check to see that there is no separation of materials inside the can; if so, then reshake it. Fill the pump sprayer to the top, pump up the pressure and apply the sealer to the fence. Just as in the step above, use a brush to brush over any extra sealer or any runs. After the first coat dries, apply the second coat in the same manner.

  • Clean the sprayer and brush with soap and water if you are using water-based products; however, if you are using oil-based, then use paint thinner to clean the tools.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear protective clothing when working with stains and sealers.

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