What Type of Brush to Stain a Wooden Fence?


If you've traveled down most any neighborhood street, you've probably noticed row after row of gray wood fencing between each home. If left unfinished, wood will weather to a dull or silvery gray. To prevent this occurrence and prolong the life of your fence, finish it with a water-proof stain. Use the right brush based on the type of stain you are using, or you will end up with a damaged tool.

Oil-based Stain

  • Synthetic polyester and nylon paintbrushes aren't suited for oil-based stains, because their bristles are unable to tolerate the harsh petroleum base. If you would like to apply an oil-based stain to your wooden fence, use a natural-bristled paintbrush. These types of brushes are equipped with bristles made from animal hair. This characteristic leaves them well-suited for petroleum-based finishes.

Latex Stain

  • If you use a natural-bristled paintbrush to apply latex stain to your wooden fence, the bristles will become misshapen. Latex stain contains water; when water comes into contact with natural brush bristles, they become deformed. If you plan to finish your wooden fence with a water-based latex stain, use a synthetic polyester or nylon paintbrush.


  • It's critical that you choose the right cleaning solution based on the brush you're working with. Choose clean tap water to rinse latex stain from synthetic polyester or nylon paintbrushes; use mineral spirits to wash oil-based stain from natural-bristled paintbrushes. Don't replace one for the other, or you will permanently damage the paintbrush.


  • Wooden fences are usually made from inexpensive softwoods, such as pine or cedar. While these fences are well-suited for oil-based stains, they tend to darken and flake over time. Water-based latex stains tend to provide longer-lasting results on wooden fences. Although you may use a synthetic polyester paintbrush to apply latex stain, nylon brushes tend to prove more effective on rough wooden surfaces.

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