Garden fence stains are designed to colour and change the appearance of new and old garden fences. Available in a wide range of colours and shades, many offer protective qualities including protection against weathering, wood rot, mould, algae, and insect attack, but which garden fence stain is best?
The final choice of stain usually comes down to colour. It’s always worth bearing in mind that the colour and condition of your fence panels will also have an influence on the final colour of the stain. For example, a stain on a new tanalised fence panel will produce a different colour to the same stain applied on an aged, weathered fence panel, that has turned silver or grey over time. It’s for this reason that before starting any fence staining project, a test area is done to assess the final colour.
Fence stains can be quite vibrant when first applied from the tin but tend to tone down in terms of colour strength within a couple of months. So, if it looks a little too striking when first applied, it should look better once weathered for a while.
Types of Fence Stain
This is where things can get a little more confusing. A fence stain is anything that colours or changes the appearance of the wood. This means that the ‘stain’ could be a simple wood stain, a coloured wood preservative, a coloured exterior wood oil, garden paint or fence paint. Deciding which one is best for a given project can be down to the colour it produces, the type of wood protection it offers or simply the budget available for the project.
Exterior wood preservatives, provide an all-round solution for colouring and protecting wooden fences. Available in a wide range of brown, green and black shades, they protect wood fencing and other garden wood from mould, algae, fungi, wood rot and insect attack.
Garden shed and fence paints seal the surface of the wood to prevent water ingress and therefore wood rot and decay. Garden paints are very different from interior paints as they penetrate into the surface of the wood rather than simply coating the surface. They are also more flexible than an interior paint and move with the wood to resist cracking, flaking and peeling.
Exterior wood oils and even decking oils can be a great way to colour and protect wooden fences. Both will stain or colour the fence whilst the oil penetrates into the wood to provide excellent weather protection. Oils also keep the wood supple and help to prevent fence timbers from cracking, splitting, and warping in temperature extremes.
Top 5 recommended Fence Stains
- Timbashield Solvent Based Wood Stain: A versatile solvent-based wood stain suitable for wood fencing and more. Colours and waterproofs fences with a blend of oils, resins and waxes. Quick drying formula that can be applied by brushing, spraying, roller and dipping. Creates a water-repellent, UV resistant finish that prevents dry-film fungal growth. Dries to a semi-translucent finish that doesn’t mask the wood grain – adds deep colour to softwood and light tint to hardwood fences.
- Ronseal One Coat Fence Life: One Coat Fence Life is ideal for wooden fences and sheds. Rainproof in just 1 to 2 hours, it colours and protects rough sawn wood and keeps its colour for up to 2 years. Also protects wood from the greying effects of weathering and UV damage and available in a range of colours. Can be spray applied with the Ronseal Precision Pump Fence Sprayer
- Ronseal Fence Life Plus: 5 Year protection for both rough sawn and smooth planed sheds and fences. Provides all year weather and UV protection for long lasting colour. Can be brush or spray applied with the Ronseal Precision Pump Fence Sprayer and is available in a range of attractive colours.
- Cuprinol Ducksback: A Wax enriched water repellent formula that weatherproofs sheds and fences for up to 5 years. Quick drying and low odour, the non-drip formulation is showerproof in just 1 hour
- Cuprinol One Coat Sprayable: Cuprinol One Coat Sprayable Fence Treatment has been specially developed for use with the Cuprinol Spray and Brush and the Cuprinol Pump Sprayer. Breakthrough technology allows you to spray accurately and evenly with minimal effort to achieve a professional finish in just one coat.
Creosote for fences
Those of a certain age will remember a time when virtually everything that was made of wood in the garden was treated with Creosote. The sale of Creosote is now regulated and can only be sold to farmers and for other, regulated industrial uses.
The good news is that there is a safer more environmentally version called ‘Creocote’. This Creosote substitute is perfect for use on fences and sheds and is available in light and dark shades of brown.
Spraying garden fence stains
Staining a wooden fence can be a daunting task, it can be a large area to cover. Using a pump or pressure sprayer is a great way to stain large areas in a fraction of the time. Before using a sprayer, a couple of precautions should be taken.
- Is the fence stain sprayable? Not all fence stains or preservers are
- Is the product safe to spray? Some solvent-based fence stains may be unsuitable for spraying and harmful if breathed in. Always check the manufacturers label and instructions
- Wear protective clothing to avoid spray coming into contact with eyes, skin and clothing.
- Take care not to get over-spray onto the neighbours’ side of the fence, their home, car or anything else
- Don’t try to spray stain a fence in high winds or when rain is expected
- Avoid getting any fence stain on stone, brick, concrete, patios, paving or any other porous surfaces as it is unlikely to come out
Recommended garden pump sprayers
When choosing a garden pump or pressure sprayer, it is worth checking to see if it is suitable for the product to be sprayed. Many pump sprayers are only suitable for water-based products. This doesn’t mean that solvent-based products can’t be used but the solvent may start to dissolve the seals, washers and hoses after a couple of days. Buying a cheap sprayer and accepting that it may not last more than a couple of days could still be a better option than buying a more expensive model if the job can be done in a couple of days.
- VOXON 5L Pump Action Pressure Sprayer: The VOXON Pump Action Pressure Sprayer is a manually operated pressure sprayer with a 5-litre capacity, it is a multi-purpose, effective pressure sprayer for outdoor use.
- Spear and Jackson Pump Action Pressure Sprayer, 5 Litre: The Spear and Jackson pump action pressure sprayer is a manually operated pressure sprayer with a 5-litre capacity. The translucent bottle is clearly marked with graduations in both litres and fluid ounces for accuracy.
- Ansio Garden Sprayer 5 litre Pressure Sprayer: For use with water or other non -viscous water-based products including pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilisers for use in garden, lawns etc. Offers easy distribution and spraying.
Staining New Fence Panels
New fence panels rarely need staining as they have either been pre-treated with a coloured wood treatment or have the natural colour of the wood used to make the fence panel. This doesn’t mean that the existing colour can’t be changed or enhanced if a stronger colour is required. For example, light brown panels can be treated and stained with a dark brown wood preserver whilst green coloured panels can be stained with a stronger or darker green wood preservative.
Staining Old Fence Panels
Untreated wooden fences will eventually turn grey or silver over time, usually in just a couple of years depending on how much water and UV (ultraviolet) light they are exposed to. Applying a coloured fence treatment to a fence panel that has been bleached will mean that the final colour won’t be influenced by any previous colour or treatments.
Before staining, it is highly recommended that any traces of mould, algae and biological growth is first treated with a mould and mildew cleaner. This will help to kill the mould spores in the wood and with the aid of a wood preservative, clear or coloured, will help to prevent future growth. Apart from keeping the fence looking nice, it’ll also help to prolong the life of the fence timbers.
Types of fencing
It’s worth mentioning that wooden fencing come in many shapes, styles, and different wood types. Although the majority are made from rough sawn softwoods slats others are available in smooth planed hardwood timbers. Rough sawn softwoods are more porous which means that they will absorb more of the stain or meaning less coverage and a darker or stronger colour, whilst smooth planed hardwood fences will use less product usually resulting in a lighter colour tone.
When to stain garden fences
The ideal time to stain garden fences is Spring through to Autumn when several days and nights of dry weather, and where temperatures remain above 10 degrees centigrade are expected. This gives wooden fences time to fully dry out before and after any fence stain is applied.
Garden Fence FAQ’s
Can’t find the answer to your fence care or maintenance project above? See our frequently asked garden fence questions and answers page, where we try to answer some of the more commonly asked questions relating to wood fence care, maintenance, and fence treatments.