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How do I Choose the Best Fence Stain?

By Norma Jean Howland
Updated May 16, 2024
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Deciding to stain your fence will probably help extend the life of your investment by several years by protecting the wood from the elements. When choosing a fence stain, you want to make sure you are buying a stain meant for exterior surfaces, and there also are some products designed specifically for fencing. You may want to look for a stain that provides ultraviolet (UV) protection, mildew resistance and color retention as well. As for style, there are different types of stains — transparent, which will allow more of the natural grain in the wood to be seen, or opaque, which leaves a more uniform kind of finish.

If you want a more natural type of wood finish, you may want to go with a transparent type stain. This stain will usually allow the grain in the wood to clearly be seen, highlighting individual characteristics in each part of the fence. If the look you are after is more translucent in nature, then you will probably want a semi-transparent stain or an opaque finish. The choice of this type of stain may be helpful in refurbishing an older fence, as it is sometimes used to hide wood that is not in perfect condition.

Choosing a color for your fence stain depends largely on the style of your home and the landscaping in your yard. If you prefer a more natural-looking fence, you may want to choose a clear fence stain or something with a golden hue. For a fence stain that has a more dramatic flair, you may pick out a color that is darker, such as mahogany or coffee. Of course, there is always the ever-popular barn red stain, which can be striking in contrast to a green lawn. Regardless of the color chosen, staining will most likely bring out and accentuate the difference in each panel of your fence, be it cedar, pine or redwood.

Also, make sure what you're buying is a stain rather than just a sealant. Sealants provide protection from moisture and some may even include UV protection, but they don't protect as well as a stain. Stains generally provide better protection because of the pigments they contain. For the most protection, choose a stain with darker pigment. Transparent stains, for instance, will provide the least amount of protection and opaque stains will provide the most.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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