Memorial Day Project: Staining the Fence

Last summer my dad and I built an epic fence along the back of property. For my birthday that fall, he bought me three gallons of Behr wood stain sealer and left his sprayer for me. We were still adjusting to Baby #2, and the project just never happened before it snowed.

Fast forward eight months, and it was a Memorial Day project in the making.

Fence Stain: Before

Fence Stain: After

Fence Stain: Halfway

What you can’t tell from the pictures is that a shadowbox fence is super hard to stain. Each board has six sides, and getting an adequate amount of stain between alternating slats without over-coating is practically impossible. And once you finish the front of the fence, you have to do the back. Even 30 feet of fence is a huge undertaking.

The folks at the big box store paint department highly recommended using a nylon foam applicator and doing it all by hand, so that’s how I started. After more than an hour I was only six boards in on one side. As the sun heated up, I started eying the sprayer, and I’m so glad I switched. It may not be coated on as thick or last as long, but it was worth it to get the project complete in just under five hours.

Lessons learned about staining a fence:

  • Don’t shake the stain. Stir it. Bubbles = enemy.
  • Test in the least seen area first. I was very glad I did this as I got used to the nylon pad and then the sprayer.
  • Wear a mask. It seems basic, but I was fairly surprised how much paint covered my respirator mask when I was done.
  • Wear eye protection. Unless you like soaking your eyeglasses in mineral spirits (like I had to do), put your shop goggles on when spraying.
  • Use a cardboard box to cover for overspray. Big boxes for big areas and use a little box in your free hand for little areas.
  • Once you have all your materials out, do more projects. I went ahead and stained my extra piece of fence and a small deck where I keep my grill. I had the sprayer hooked up, mask on and stain mixed up. In hindsight, I would’ve had a few other ideas in the works.

Grant did help me out for about five minutes before declaring the project “boring.” He thought we should get out more colors, like pink and blue. I tried to explain, but then I was boring, too.

That was fine, as it gave the boys a chance to get in some pool time.

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