Fence Staining and Deck Staining | 3 Mistakes You Never Want To Make!
Avoid these fence staining and deck staining mistakes before starting your stain and seal project and you will love your wood structure for years to come.
Mistake #3. Fence Staining at the wrong time.
You have just installed or built a new fence, deck, pergola or other wood structure outside your home, and you know you need to protect it. Your neighbor says stain it as soon as its built, your father-in-law advises that for fence staining you should wait one year, a contractor you know claims that wood needs to weather several years before it can accept stain. Yes, we have all heard the same advice, plus many other suggestions on when and how your outdoor wooden structure should be protected. They all have merits, but I’m going to cut through noise and make this really simple. Today’s treated pine lumber is really wet when it is new and must dry out. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the treatments used today are not what they used to be. So we are in a race against the clock to get the lumber stained and sealed before it turns gray, warps, or cracks. Warping is when your wood twists, bends, or bows. And we have all saw those ugly cracks in wood. Our team of experts have found the sweet spot for Nashville fence staining and deck staining is to apply stain and sealers between two and six weeks post construction. At this point, the wooden fence still looks new, the pine or cedar has had ample time to dry to the recommended 18% or less moisture content, and most of the warpage has not yet occurred.
If you have waited too long or have have inherited a neglected fence, deck, or other outdoor wooden structure, before the staining process begins, you must do proper prep work. This leads us to the second biggest mistake we see.
Mistake #2. Throwing prep work out the window.
So, you’ve put off fence staining and deck staining for what seemed like a moment, but now a year has passed and your backyard just doesn’t look as good as you know it can. It is time to apply the stain, but before you do, you must set the stage with prep work to get that Pinterest perfect finish you will be proud of for years to come. All the black speckles you see – that’s living mold. The green stuff is algae. If you stain over it without killing and removing the mold and algae, it will come back to haunt you in a big way. Either you or your contractor can take care of the mold and algae with a simple three-part cleaning process. You can read about the process here, in the Experts’ wood cleaning and fence restoration blog. Once you have cleaned everything up, mowed the grass next to your work area, and brushed away any dirt from your project, you can start staining. But wait! Do not use any old stain. There is a difference, and applying the wrong stain is the biggest mistake you, as a homeowner, can make while choosing your fence stain or deck stain.
Mistake #1. Choosing the wrong stain / sealer
Depending on which stain sales rep, fence contractor or home store employee you speak with, you may get a different answer as to which type and brand of stain and seal products to use.
The most common question from homeowner we get is water based stain versus oil based stains. Simply put, there is a very distinct time to use a water based stain. If we find a project, for instance, a fence or deck that has had multiple coats of stain applied over the years, obvious mismatched repairs and other things that need covering, then our team of experts will recommend a solid water based stain like Behr Premium. The Stain and Seal Experts do not recommend semi-transparent water based stains because in our opinion it is almost impossible for this type to look uniform once applied. We have all seen striped fences and decks – it’s not pretty. Our team of experts suggest using a water based solid stain to cover blemishes on old wood.
Our top recommended and most used stains are commercial grade Oil Based Stains made with oils that penetrate, look great and work well in our climate. In Middle Tennessee we have high humidity and hot summers, so certain oil based stains that apply easily and beautifully in California will grow algae in our climate. We know of only three commercial grade oil based stains available that work well in Tennessee, and you will see them listed here, beginning with our top favorite. Standard Paints Wood Defender stains work well on every project that our team of experts have used it on. It is our number one recommended stain and our customers’ first choice.
Ready Seal is another fantastic stain that is easy to apply. It has several luxurious transparent stain color choices. While our team is less familiar with the third option, Bakers Gray Away, it is a high quality product that our team might also recommend.
Back to the water based versus oil based debate – take a look at this simple explanation that might clarify any uncertainties you may have about your stain decision.
When a fence post is in the ground, it still acts just like a tree. It wicks moisture from the ground all the way through the wood, and the moisture exits the top of the post by evaporation. The pickets that are in contact with the ground also soak up ground water. We have all seen green algae growing upwards on the bottom of a fence board. Though the horizontal boards on a fence or deck are not in contact with the ground, they still expel moisture from the top to dry. If you use a latex (water based) stain and sealer on your fence staining or deck staining project, you are essentially shrink wrapping your wood. Even though water cannot penetrate this coating from above (at first), the moisture coming from the ground inside the wood cannot escape. The trapped moisture will eventually begin to rot the wood prematurely.
The oil based stains mentioned above use penetrating oils that go deep into the wood and protect the fence from the inside out. An oil based stain allows the wood to still naturally breathe and wick moisture the way nature intended.
To recap – make sure you don’t put off your staining job too long. Once the contractor finishes your fence, deck or pergola, you should be in contact with a Staining Contractor like Stain & Seal Experts in Nashville to get your job scheduled. Make sure you get the prep work right and don’t skimp when it comes to stain selection. The most expensive stain is a cheap stain because you have to apply them twice as often. Go oil based every time!
That about wraps it up. If you have a fence staining or sealing question be sure to leave us a comment below or send us an email.
Stain & Seal Experts
If you liked this post check out this one.