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How To Stain A Cedar Fence

Stain your cedar fence the easy way

Q: How do you stain a cedar fence?

A: Having a cedar fence is an attractive add-on for any piece of property. In order for it to retain its beauty, it needs to be cared for and protected from the environment. In many cases this just requires a simple application of a good wood stain. If you can paint, then you are more than qualified for staining a cedar fence, but it is best to first understand the proper ways to prep for your project. 

Step 1: Choose the right fence stain.

Stains range from transparent to solid opaques in many varieties of color. Choose one that compliments the look of your home or helps bring a splash of vibrance to your property. We have a great selection of colors available in a variety of transparencies here: Great Fence Stain Colors

Step 2: Inspecting the fence. 

Look for broken fence pieces, rough wood, screws, staples or nails that protrude. If you encounter any of these problems, you need to repair them. This produces a smooth surface for staining. After completing any needed repairs, the fence needs to be cleaned. 

How To Stain A Cedar Fence

Step 3: Cleaning the fence.

Clean wood provides the perfect surface for staining. If the fence has any existing paint or stains, they need to be removed. Old and new cedar may benefit from an application of a wood brightener. This is a gentle cleaner designed especially for exterior wood surfaces. Allow the brightener to soak into the wood. It may be necessary to gently scrub stubborn stains. Then, rinse the cleaner away with water. This allows for an easy removal of dirt, mold, and mildew on older wood. The wood brightener removes some mill marks and glaze from new wood. Allow at least 24 hours for the wood to dry. 


Step 4: Staining the fence.

Staining a cedar fence is actually quite easy. Evenly apply the wood stain, following the instructions on the can, using one or more of these items: a straight brush, roller, or a hand-pumped stain sprayer. Be sure to apply an even coat of stain to the fence. Cover the entire surface. You may need to use an angled brush for any places between the planks that need stain. Just like with interior painting, any areas that are blotchy or if there are places where the stain puddles or bubbles, smooth these areas out quickly with a brush. Let the stain rest for 24-48 hours. This drying period is dependent upon the weather. 


Learning how to stain a cedar fence is easy. Prep, stain, and let it dry. Staining wood is not just for aesthetics; the sealing properties of stains protect the wood from natural elements. The right prep and application will allow your cedar fence to be a focal point for your property for years to come.

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Variance in monitor calibrations can affect the on-screen representations of our actual paint and stain colors. Your local Olympic® Paints & Stains retailer can match and/or order the exact color that you desire with the help of the Olympic Paint or Stain color name or number.