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Preparing Your Wood Fence in Northern Virginia for Staining

January 22, 2015

Once fence installation has been completed, you may wish to apply a stain to compliment the exterior of your Alexandria, VA home. Staining a fence is not difficult but can take a little time and patience to do it correctly.

Types of Stain

There are basically three types of stain: transparent, semitransparent, and solid stains. The most common stains used on wood fences by our Northern Virginia clients are transparent or semi-transparent stains. Both stains allow the natural grain of the wood to show through, prevent mold and algae from growing with anti-fungal agents, and provide extra protection from outdoor elements because the stain penetrates and bonds with the wood fibers.

Transparent stains maintain the natural color of the wood but are more prone to sun damage, so they are higher maintenance often requiring application once a year. Semitransparent stains are highly recommended. They can give the wood a richer color while providing greater protection and requiring less maintenance.

Because semitransparent stains penetrate the wood, you’ll want to be careful when choosing your color because adjustments after the fact are very difficult. We suggest leave a few fence boards that didn’t get used during fence installation outside to weather over the same period as your fence. Before staining your fence, test out different colors on the loose boards.

Solid stains are seldom used on wood fencing as they can actually cause the wood to splinter and chip. They are more labor intensive as well, since it shows wear much more readily than semi-transparent stains. They are more often used by our Arlington, VA fence clients for decorative outdoor elements such as wood planters or trellises.

Weathering Your Wood Fence

During the milling process, the wood grain can become very tight. Transparent and semitransparent stains need porous wood for proper penetration. New wood fences, especially those built with pressure-treated woods, should naturally weather for about 4-6 weeks to open the pores of the wood before a stain is applied.

You can test the wood at different intervals to see if the wood is ready for staining. Just put some drops of water on the wood and if the water is absorbed, then the wood is ready for staining. If the water beads and runs down the board, then you’ll want to wait a little longer.

Cleaning Your Wood Fence

Of course, you should give the fence a good cleaning before staining. This will remove any lingering mill particles as well as dirt that has collected on the fence over the weeks of weathering. A soft bristle broom and wood deck cleaner can be used to help lift the surface dirt. Hose the fence down and allow to dry thoroughly before using stain.

For more information on maintaining wood fences in Northern Virginia, contact the leadingĀ fence company professionals at Armor Fence today.