Back Button

What Stain to Use to Preserve Pine Wood Fencing

Lee Roberts

You need to protect your pine wood fencing from the ravages of dirt, wind, sun and water. Untreated pine wood fences do not age as well as some other wood products, such as teak or redwood. Every natural element is poised to draw every vestige of moisture and life from your untreated pine wood fence. You will not be able to stop the onslaught indefinitely, but by applying the appropriate outdoor wood stain you will be able to keep your fence looking good and standing tall for many years.

Types of Exterior Wood Stain

Solid color stains last longer than semi-transparent stains, but they conceal the look of the natural pine. You will need to reapply clear finishes more often than you would wood toners. Expect to have to recoat the fence every two or three years when you use a clear finish. Apply a wood toner to add a minimal amount of color to the fence and help prevent premature graying. The more pigment you add, the less you will notice graying. A high-quality solid color stain can last for 20 years before you will have to reapply it to the fence.

Look for stains that promise to penetrate the pine fence deeply. A product that sits on the surface, either from improper application or by design, will not protect the fence from ultraviolet radiation. Perform routine cleanings on the fence to remove dirt buildup. Wind can increase the damage dirt does to the fence by bombarding the stain with dirt particles that can work their way into the wood. Covering the fence completely with stain will minimize the damage. Cleaning the fence will lengthen the stain’s lifespan.

Consider a gel stain rated for outdoor wood for your fence. Gel stain, compared to oil or water-based stain, is thicker and will drip less when you apply it to a vertical fence board. Inspect the fence for damage, repair holes and replace missing boards. Clean the fence thoroughly. Sand the fence with a medium to fine grit paper to remove all debris and to roughen the surface. Stain has more routes into the wood with a rougher surface. Clean off the residue from the sanding process with a cloth or brush. Keep in mind that gel stains require a clear finishing coat.


Apply the stain with a brush, cloth or foam applicator. Brushes tend to be more efficient in coating surfaces; however, because painting a wood fence is not as much fun as it appears, use whichever applicator is most comfortable for you. Cover every part of the fence to let the wood absorb the stain as evenly as possible. Stain the sides of the boards if there are gaps between boards. Stain the tops and bottoms of the boards, whether or not anyone can see them under normal viewing conditions.


Many manufacturers produce quality stains that will be more than suitable for most pine wood fences. Olympic, Varathane, Cabot and Minwax, among others, all include quality outdoor stains in their product lines. Krylon now offers a rare spray paint alternative. It is a semi-transparent stain that Krylon claims will provide UV protection and repel water.