Can I Stain My Fence When It's Wet?

To quote Robert Frost, "Good fences make good neighbors." If this is true, then how do you make a good fence? Beyond solid construction and top-quality wood, no good fence would be complete without a great staining. The stain brings out the true "woodiness" of the wood and adds the final touch of beauty and protection that is so necessary. But let's say that you just finished putting up your fence and a strong storm is approaching. Can you still stain the wet wood? There is an answer.

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The Answer

The short, quick answer is...no. Most wood stains are oil-based and therefore will not bond well to a wet surface. If applied to wet woods, the stain will be thin and will eventually wash off after a few sizable rains. Certain water-based stains will be more effective but will produce inferior results when compared with stain applied to dry wood. Also, when considering the amount of time and attention to detail that is required, wet wood makes the job of staining unnecessarily difficult. It is simply better to stain wood when dry.

When to Stain

Stain your wood according to the type of wood your fence is made of. New or untreated wood should be stained as soon as possible after you have completed construction. Treated wood should be allowed to leach out or weather before being stained. Old wood that has been previously stained may need to be treated with stain remover before adding new stain. Never brush new stain on old stain. Staining is best done on a warm, moderately sunny day. Remember, if it rains before you stain, let it dry before you apply.