The best time to stain your fence is crucial to its longevity. If you want your wood fence to last for decades, you need to take care of it. This starts with a high-quality stain and/or sealant. The openness of the wood’s pores determines how well the stain soaks into the material, affecting how long it lasts.
Freshly milled wood is not ready for stain. The sawing and sanding process closes all the pores in the wood grain, hindering stain absorption. You should wait for the wood to dry completely and re-open those pores, which usually takes about a season. If your fence is installed in the spring, wait until fall to stain. However, you can accelerate this process by pressure washing the wood multiple times and letting it dry completely. Make sure the water applied is even, and it’s best to do this on a hot day to speed up the process. Remember to angle your sprinkler heads away from your fence to prevent irregular and premature weathering and sprinkler rings. Once the wood is dry, you can apply your choice of stain.
Maintaining your fence is also essential. A high-quality stain can last multiple years on a fence. To determine whether you need to re-stain, perform a water bead test by splashing a small area of the wood with water. If the water is absorbed, it’s time to re-stain. If the water runs off and forms a bead on the surface of the wood, the sealant component of the stain is still good, even if the color has faded. When re-applying stain, pressure wash the wood until all the dirt and old stain is off. Sometimes you will need a cleaner to help remove the stain. Once the wood is cleaned and dried fully, you can apply a new stain.