Cedar Fence Stain: a Guide

by craftyclub

Stained cedar fences are exceptional for increasing the overall look and preserving it. Its original rich color and natural ability to repel decay, red Cedar is one of the most preferred types of wood for outdoor use. 

Cedar is commonly used for roofing, decor, fences, gates and a lot more because it is inexpensive, readily accessible, very adaptable, and quick to build, and it weathers remarkably well.

However, one feature of Cedar is that its gorgeous red quickly fades to a dull grey. There is no natural method to turn Cedar back after it has gotten grey. At this stage, the only option is to apply a stain or other color agent to the wood.

Choices, timeliness, and, most importantly, the appropriate sort of treatment are all important factors in maintaining the color of your Cedar. To properly comprehend the best approach to stain or treat Cedar, you must first comprehend the complexities of its weathering process.

This guide will help you understand the many uses of stained cedar fences, how to stain a cedar fence and what exactly does staining a cedar fence do.

Tips For Staining A Fence
Tips For Staining A Fence (from Taryn Whiteaker)

What Exactly is Cedar Fence Stain

Cedar fence stain is a form of paint that is used on wood fence after it’s built to improve the wood’s original color, increase the lifespan of the wood or add a different color to the wood.

How Does Cedar Wood Weather

Due to the number of natural oils in cedar wood, it deteriorates slowly. However, Cedar holds its own in terms of structural strength. Fences made of untreated Cedar can last for many years before needing to be replaced.

Even though Cedar starts to deteriorate right after it’s constructed, it quickly slows down after a while gradually. Weathering penetrates the wood quickly, reaching a depth of roughly 2mm before slowing down. The weathered portion of the wood, however, continues to fracture or peel away over time.

Advantages of Staining Cedar Wood

After a fence is built, it must be maintained to ensure that it remains sturdy, long-lasting, and attractive. In reality, a stained fence can assist prevent common problems with wood fencing, such as deteriorating and fracturing, as well as survive some of the weather factors that nature throws at it. Using a high-quality, long-lasting fence stain will ensure that your fence looks wonderful and lasts for years. Following are some benefits of fence staining.

  • UV defense:
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The darker the color of the stain, the more protected it will be.

  • Avoids rot and fungus:

Cedar wood staining will decrease the chances of the appearance of funguses like mildew on your wood.

  • Colors

You can match colors or completely choose a different color for your fence as there are many color options available. Semitransparent and solid both.

  • Increase of life:

Staining cedar wood will increase the overall life of your wood and greatly reduce deterioration.

How to stain a cedar fence

When you add a brand new cedar fence to your property, it increases the overall look and adds beauty to your whole lot. However, without properly maintaining it, its natural glow may deteriorate into an unappealing weathered grey. Staining a new fence can help protect its appearance while staining an older fence can help restore its natural beauty after it has been cleaned. Choose a stain that is oil-based and semitransparent when staining Cedar. The minimal amount of pigment in this stain helps shield the sun’s damaging UV rays, and it has greater penetrating capabilities.

Before staining the fence

There are certain steps to go through before actually staining your cedar wood;

  • Using a garden hose, connect one end to a water supply pipe and the other to a power washer. Use a washer with a 1,500 to 2,000 pound per square inch pressure. To the end of the power washer’s hose, attach a 25-degree angle tip. Start the power washer and turn on the water.
  • Remove the filth and grime from the wood’s surface. Hold the wand 18 inches off from the fence and carefully move it vertically, following the grain of the wood. Work in 2-foot segments and don’t keep the wand stationary for too long.
  • As you spray, notice how the color of the wood gets lighter. When there is no more color change, stop spraying the area. Repeat with another part of the fence. Continue along the length of the fence, let it to dry completely in between coats.
  • Before staining the fence, inspect it carefully and thoroughly. Replace any broken boards and hammer in any nails that show above the surface.

Staining the fence

  • To cover the grass, place tarps at the foot of the fence. Fill a paint tray with a bit of the wood stain.
  • Insert a 3/8-inch nap roller with a long handle into the stain. Apply a sufficient amount of stain to the wood at one end of the fence. Work in little 3-foot chunks vertically. Back brush the stained area with a paintbrush, capturing any drips or runs and ensuring the stain goes into all cracks and surface elements. Before moving on to the next stage, let the wood help absorb as much as it can.
  • Use a paintbrush to apply the stain to difficult spots. Repeat the technique for the entire length of the fence, then let it dry for 24 hours. Apply a second layer using the same method as the first. The stain may take up to 72 hours to properly dry, based on the product brand.
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Basic Cedar Wood Treatments

When it comes to treating Cedar, the most important consideration is how much of the natural wood you want to conceal. Do you appreciate the aged, natural look of Cedar? Do you desire a uniform but unnatural appearance? 

You have roughly a two-week time limit after applying external Cedar before the wood begins to lose color. The color will start to rapidly fade from red to grey after that.

There are various alternatives if you choose to stain your wood. The majority of cedar treatments are made up of pigments and solids, similar to house paint. The more amount of solids in treatment, the longer will be the lifespan of Cedar.

Bleaching Oil Treatment

If you want the grey, worn appearance of naturally aged wood with the added benefit of protection, you’ll have to work extra hard to make it look natural. It takes two steps to apply bleaching oil.

  • To set and stabilize the color, the oil tints the wood with a light grey pigment. 
  • Second, the oil will expedite the bleaching process over a short period of time, resulting in a more uniform weathered appearance.
  • However, the entirely consistent weathered effect will take three to six months at most to emerge.


  • It’s only good if you like the overall weathered look of Cedar.
  • It’s applied relatively easily.


  • You will have to reapply quite frequently.
  • It won’t change much of the look.

Semitransparent Cedar Fence Stain

When you want the true look of slightly worn Cedar with protection, semi-transparent stains are the best there is for what you’re looking for. The few solid particles in this mixture will not conceal the wood grain of Cedar.

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Semi-transparent stains, on the other hand, require extra caution when applying. Because spraying might cause blotching, manual brushing is generally the best solution. Water beads up in semi-transparent stains, preventing moisture from eroding the wood’s cellular structure.


  • Moisture resistance
  • Wood grain visible


  • Can cause smudges if not correctly applied.

Solid Cedar Fence Stain

There are solid particles in solid color stains, but not nearly as many as there are in paint. Solid color stains, on the other hand, allow some of the Cedar’s grain to show through but none of the color. The result is an opaque color that is quite consistent. Solid color stains, on the other hand, will block the majority of harmful ultraviolet rays. Furthermore, this style of stain is extremely water-resistant.


  • Can repel water and moisture.
  • Can block UV rays.


  • Only a little part of the wood grain is visible.
  • Uniformed color.

Primer and Paint Treatment for Cedar Fence Stain

If all you want to do is protect your Cedar, paint is the finest alternative. The solids in paint deflect light, which is the primary cause of cedar decay because lighter colors reflect light more effectively than darker colors. Hence lighter colors last more.

When a cedar fence is severely decayed, it can be saved by repairing it and coating it with exterior-grade acrylic latex paint.

However, keep in mind that painting real wood color is extremely difficult. Paint is not a suitable option if you really must have a wood appearance. Because of the number of large visible pores of Cedar, priming is required before painting.


  • Great protection.
  • It can save a fence that has been long gone to deterioration.


  • Completely annihilates the natural tone and color of cedar wood.
  • There’s a chance you would have to reapply quite frequently.


Stained cedar fences look amazing and increases both the life and look of your fences, maintaining them can be a bit difficult however. We hope this guide covered all the necessary what to-dos and how to-dos for your cedar fence staining needs. 

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