If you have installed a wood fence on your property and want it to last as long as possible, the best way to preserve the wood of your fence is to add protective coating to its surface such as stain, sealant or paint. The focus of this article is stain – why it fades over time and what to do about it.
Some types of wood are naturally more resilient than others. For instance, Cedar has natural oils in the wood that protect it from absorbing water. The oil content that is present in Cedar is not as present in less expensive woods like pine. That’s why pine is often treated with various preservatives to emulate the same effect as a natural oil would. The reason why this water repelling oil is desirable is because moisture is one of the conditions in which rot can grow. If you can keep the wood from absorbing water, you can protect it from breaking down due to wood rot. If you would like to know more about the difference between staining, sealing and painting and how they all aid in preserving the life of your wood fence, read this article we wrote.
What Causes Fence Stain to Fade?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, sunlight (UV rays) is also destructive to wood and nearly impossible to avoid. The constant heat from the sun dries out the natural oils of the wood and makes the wood dry, weak and brittle. Not only does the wood become weak, but it also becomes a sponge for water absorption. Sealing your fence provides resistance to water, but staining penetrates the wood and actually provides some protection from UV light. The best way to protect your fence from the sun is to stain it, but over time the stain will fade due to the sunlight and you will need to reapply a coat of stain as often as every 2 years depending on the product used.
When to Re-Stain Your Fence
It is inevitable that your stain will eventually succumb to the elements and you will have to stain your fence multiple times over the course of its life. The packaging of the stain you use should recommend how long before you need to re-stain your fence, but the time may be more or less depending on how much sunlight the fence was exposed to. There is a simple test you can perform to get a good idea if your fence is ready for a new coat – take a teaspoon of water and pour it onto a flat part of the fence. The top rail should work. If the water stays beaded up and the wood is resistant to absorption, you can probably wait a bit longer before re-staining your fence. If the water soaks into the wood, then the s
How to Make Your Stain Last Longer
Along with staining your fence every few years, a good practice to help extend the life of the fence as well as the life of the stain is to wash the fence. This may seem counterintuitive since you’re trying to keep water out of it, but if the stain is doing its job, it will resist the water and effectively dry. The purpose in washing the fence is to clear any buildup of mold, fungus, moss or mud that would trap in moisture against the wood and provide a place for rot to grow.
Another consideration is to reduce the amount of sunlight that shines on the fence. This can be accomplished by being conscious of the placement of reflective material such as a pool or a metal grill. You can also reduce the amount of light on a fence by planting shrubs and trees along the fence line. If none of these options are practical for you, plan on putting in the work of re-staining to get the most life out of your wood fence. If you are planning on adding trees or plants near your fence, we recommend you read this article, “Does Deck and Fence Stain Kill Plants?”
Butler Contracting Stains Fences
Not only do we build fences here at Butler Contracting, but we also have stain packages too! It can be a lot of work to stain a fence and it’s understandable if you don’t have the time to spend on doing it and getting it done right. If you are interested in having us stain your wood fence for you, give us a call at (844) 628-8537 or go to our website and fill out some basic info for a virtual quote online.