How to Pick out a Fence Finish

Solid Wood Safety Fence

You have completed the hard work of installing a new fence in your backyard and are ready to show it off to all of your friends. Now what? To provide long-lasting protection to your fence that will also show off the beautiful wood fence texture from every angle, purchasing and applying a fence finish is absolutely necessary.  A fence finish, or what some people may refer to generally as a “stain,” can be applied to the surface of your brand new (or even old) fence and provide you with years of protection against the weather, wildlife, and even your furry friends trying to jump up and take a peek at your neighbors. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a fence finish.  The first thing you should think about is the quality of the material. 

So Many Choices – What is Most Important?

There are thousands of different brands and colors of fence finishes on the market today. This can make searching for a finish a bit overwhelming. To narrow down the initial search, here are a few things you want to keep in mind about the different kinds of finishes. 

Higher Quality Materials

You might be asking what makes up the fence finish that you are in desperate need of. The answer – pigments. Pigments are typically insoluble powdery materials that are mixed with oil or water to create paint and similar substances like stains. The quality of the pigment in a fence finish can make or break the longevity of your fence surfaces.  Make sure to find a stain that is made up of “automotive-grade pigments” to offer enhanced protection against the strong UV rays, constant heat exposure, and moisture from the rain and snow. 

Environmentally friendly

Another thing you want to take into account is protecting your family, pets, and neighbors from any potential harmful exposure from a fence finished with a toxic chemical make-up.  Be sure that the stain you are purchasing follows environmental standards and is not made up of lower volatile organic compounds.  These kinds of organic compounds are linked to many different kinds of pollution and can even be carcinogenic.

Protection against Rot, Dirt, and Mildew

Besides needing a fence finish that protects against weather-related dangers such as UV rays and snow, you also need to find a fence finish that offers to repel action against natural materials like dirt and mildew spores.  Do some research and read reviews on whatever product you are looking at to ensure that the stain will be able to withstand any dirty build-up from your kids playing outside near the fence and even from wild animals scurrying along the top of your fence when you are not looking.  

Paint v. Finish

You might be thinking at this point, “Why not just buy a paint to cover and protect my newly installed wooden fence?”.  Well, one major difference between paint and fence staining products is that the paint only covers the outer surface of the wood instead of penetrating this layer as the staining products do.  Fence finishes are able to show off the natural beauty of the patterned grain on the surface of your fence by seeping into the outer layer of the wood.  This major difference will determine whether you will see your fence as having a flat surface that is one particular color or you will see it as having a unique texture with a more natural appearance.  

Another major difference between paint and fence finish is that the finish will grant your wooden fence much more protection against the natural elements.  Paint often will lack the properties of fence finish materials that reflect harmful UV rays and prevent dirt/mildew from accumulating on the surface of the wood.  

If you have ever seen an old painted wooden structure such as a bard, your eyes were likely drawn to the peeling paint from years of wear and tear.  One thing that sets the fence to finish apart from paint is that it will not peel; it will wear down over time, but will not create a piece texture that is difficult to strip from the wood when you want to reapply paint or try a stain instead. 

So Many Styles to Choose from – Which One is Best for Me? 

One major factor that splits up the different kinds of fence finishes is the opacity of the material.  In general, you can choose from fence finishes that are either a solid color, semi-transparent or completely clear.  Making the choice between these different kinds of finishes all depends on how much of the natural appearance of the wood you want to show.  In some cases, you may not care for the texture or the grain of your wooden fence and want to pick out a solid stain that will give your fence more of a modern/contemporary feel.  On the other hand, you have the option to choose a clear stain that will offer the same amount of protection but will portray the beautiful grain of natural wood underneath. 

Always be mindful of how you want to compliment the landscaping and other wooden structures around your yard.  If you have nice wooden furniture on the back porch or even a pergola, you may want to match the color/stain of your wooden fence with these items to create a cohesive look.  Furthermore, if you just spent thousands of dollars to improve the landscaping in your backyard with fresh grass, beautifully colored plants, stone pathways, etc., you may want to consider choosing a semi-transparent or clear fence finish that will not detract from the landscaping with a bold solid color.  

Time to Apply the Fence Finish

After going through the hard work of researching a fence finish and finding one that suits your protective needs and aesthetic desires, all you have left to do is apply the stain.  This process can be very simple but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Before applying any fence finish, make sure to pressure wash your fence to make sure no sawdust, dirt, or grime will be trapped in the finish and give off an unwanted rugged look.  Set the pressure washer to a wide-angle to ensure that you are spraying the fence diffusely with not too much pressure while at the same time hitting every surface of your fence.  After pressure washing, make sure to allow the fence to completely dry before applying the stain. Lastly, you can apply the stain with a brush, roller, or even a high-tech spraying machine. Whichever method you choose, make sure to apply an even coat and quickly go over any areas that seem to be lacking proper coverage.

If you don’t want to do all the dirty work, have your new fence installed by Long Fence!

Read More:

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