In his work "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," author Mark Twain told how the hero, Tom Sawyer, conned his neighborhood playmates into whitewashing a fence by making it seem like a fun thing to do. Perhaps you can't con your grown-up "playmates" into coming over and staining your fence on their day off, but you can simplify your life and save yourself some money by accurately calculating the amount of stain you'll need for the privacy fence around your back yard.

Staining a wood fence will protect it and prevent discoloration.

Step 1

Look at the label on the can of stain before you buy it and find the information on "Coverage." This will tell you how many square feet of surface the can of stain will cover.

Step 2

Measure the length of the fence you want to stain with a tape measure. Measure only those parts of the fence you want to stain, including any gates.

Step 3

Measure the height of the fence from the ground to the top. If you only plain to stain one side of the fence, multiply this by the length of the fence to determine the number of square feet of fence you will be staining. If your fence is 100 ft. long and 8 ft. high, you will be staining 800 sq. ft. of fence. If you will be staining both sides of the fence, multiply the result (800 sq. ft.) by 2.

Step 4

Divide the number of square feet you will be staining by the number of square feet shown in "Coverage" on the can of stain. If you're covering 1,600 sq. ft. of fence, and one gallon of stain covers 200 sq. ft., divide 1,600 by 200. The result, 8, is how many gallons of stain you'll need.