If your fencing is made of wood, no matter where you live, the fence needs some kind of treatment to prolong the life of the fence. Staining is a great option, sealant is another, even painting can help protect the wood. Let’s discuss all 3 and in which situations each works best.
Staining your fence is going to be most beneficial to those who live in hot climates or have south-facing fences, because a proper stain provides a better UV protection than sealant while maintaining the natural beauty of the wood and possibly even enhancing it. UV protection is vital to preserving your fence over time – the sun beating down on the wood dries it out, causing it to become brittle and weak. It also causes a gray discoloration in the wood. Staining also provides some water resistance, which is very important. If water seeps into the wood, it can allow mold to grow, which then turns into rot, weakening the structure of the fence.
If you want a more painted look, but also want the maintenance benefits of the stain with a rough textured aesthetic, there are white stains that can provide your fence with a classic white picket fence look.
The main purpose of sealing your fence is the same as staining – wood preservation. It achieves it in a similar way by providing some UV protection, albeit less protection than staining, but better water resistance. Sealant alone might not be enough to preserve the color of the wood, but should give the color adequate preservation for about 3-6 months. Sealant usually has a clear finish and will help protect the wood from fungal and mold growth. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain often, sealing your wood fence is a good idea.
Painting is also an option if you would rather forego the natural wood color and have a bevy of color and sheen options. The downside of paint is that it is more costly than stain or sealant as you not only have to apply multiple coats of paint, you will also need to apply a primer for proper protection. Paint is also prone to cracking and peeling, which varies according to the climate you live in.
When To Treat Your Wood Fence
When to treat your wood fence greatly depends on the type of wood and the method of treatment you choose. Because pressure-treated pine is often installed while it is still wet, it’s going to take about 6 months before it completely dries out and is ready for stain or sealant. If the wood is not completely dry, stains will not penetrate the wood for maximum protection. If your fence is made from natural hardwood like cedar or redwood, it’s better to stain or seal it before the wood becomes too weathered. It can be done much sooner than with treated wood.
If you live in a climate as temperamental as Texas, you might be going back and forth between staining for better UV protection to battle the constant heat or sealing the wood to keep out the water from the occasional torrential downpour. There’s good news! You can both stain and seal your fence. Staining first, then sealing after will provide the best results.
If you’re planning on staining your fence yourself, make sure that the wood has been dry for at least 24-48 hours and don’t stain the fence in direct sunlight. If it’s a hot day and the sun is shining on the fence, the stain will dry too quickly, resulting in uneven splotches all over.
Before you stain, you should make sure to replace any warped or rotted pickets and drive in any loose nails or screws. Sand down any rough spots you see and consider using a wood cleaner to prepare for the stain or sealant.
Maintaining A Wood Fence
Treating your wood fence is part of the maintenance process and getting the most out of your fence will require staining it every 5 years or sealing it every 2-3 years. You will periodically want to check on the boards to make sure they’re in good shape and haven’t developed any rot. If they are warped or split, replace them before you stain, seal or paint.