How to stain a cedar fence



Should I stain my cedar fence?

In the Pacific Northwest, cedar is the most dominant species of wood used for fencing. And for a good reason! Without any kind of treatment, cedar has natural characteristics that fight off rot and pests better than most other types of wood. So why stain your cedar fence? Staining and or sealing your cedar fence can increase its lifespan in many ways.

Applying the right stain or sealer will help protect your cedar fence from fading to that infamous gray color mainly caused by the sun. If you don’t mind the gray, then maybe you like your fence pickets to stay nice and straight. Applying a sealer or stain can help keep moisture out of your cedar pickets which will significantly reduce warping and twisting.

What kind of stain should I use?

The hardest part about choosing the right stain or sealer may be deciding on the color. Should it be transparent? Perhaps a shade of brown? That part is totally up to you. It really depends on the look you prefer. For the technical stuff, we recommend talking to a Pacific NW local paint store. Try Rodda Paint, Sherwin-Williams or Miller. These guys know what works with our climate better than the big box stores who simply push their brand all over the country. We have a special climate here that requires the good stuff! Products are constantly changing and your local representative at any of these stores will gladly tell you what works and what doesn’t.


How to stain your new cedar fence.

Prep your cedar fence by cleaning it first. Big box stores like The Home Depot and Lowes offer some great cedar fence cleaners. Do yourself a huge favor and take a trip to your local store to purchase a cedar fence cleaner. Grab dinner and make it a date night! Don’t be that person who spends all their time staining a dirty fence! Those dark spots will still be there when you are done! You may even have to roll your sleeves up and remove the old sander to remove any dark spots the cleaner wouldn’t remove. A pressure washer can also make quick work of cleaning your new fence. If you don’t own one, try renting one from any tool rental store. They are inexpensive and are worth it. Be sure to trim back any vegetation as well. This will make your life much easier! Once you have the canvas you like, it’s time to stain!


When should I stain my cedar fence?

Aside from choosing your stain color, waiting for dry weather may be your second biggest challenge when staining your fence. Stain is good at keeping water out of your cedar fence. It’s also good at keeping water in your cedar fence! Best to give your fence a good week of dry weather before you decide to apply stain. Then plan for another week of dry weather AFTER you stain to allow it to dry! Where we live, this can be a challenge. Don’t worry, your fence will be fine in the rain while you wait for dry weather. Remember, the sun causes fading (which isn’t a big problem where we live), and the rain causes dirt to splash onto the cedar fence. If your fence gets dirty before you have a window in good weather to apply stain, you will need to do some cleaning and polish that fence up before you start to stain. Be patient and wait for that perfect two-week window before starting your project.

Once you plan your dry weather window, it’s time to apply the stain! The fastest way to do this is to spray the stain with a paint sprayer. Follow up the spray with a thick brush and work the stain into the cedar. For increasing efficiency, have one person spray and the second follows with the brush. This will assure a nice even coat in every nook and cranny of your new fence!


How often should I stain my cedar fence?

There isn’t a “one size fits all” rule regarding how often you should stain your cedar fence. Location is everything. Where we live, there are cedar fences in direct sunlight and others in the shade year-round. Because of this, every cedar fence will age differently. Our best advice is to apply stain when you see it needs it. This can be a personal preference as it involves aesthetics more than maintaining integrity. The most common frequency we see around the Portland Metro area is yearly to two years.