Fences and Staining: 13 Common Problems You Must Avoid

There is no denying that fences have become an important part of the property. 

They serve multiple functions including protecting privacy, containing kids and pets, or prohibiting trespassing. 

Just like other things in life, the fence requires some maintenance and care. You have to invest time and effort in maintaining the fence. 

Fencing does not require much but little time and investment. 

Despite your best efforts, certain problems may arise. You are likely to encounter fencing issues at least once in your lifetime.

You’re in luck because we’re here to help you out. Our extensive research found the 13 most common fence and staining problems.

We have compiled a list and devised solutions for each of the problems.

  1. Not getting pre-approval from a neighbor, HOA

HOAs have the right to impose laws regarding fencing. You must be aware of this if you are part of an HOA.

A fence is considered to be an extension of your home.

There are certain rules and regulations if you are sharing your fence boundary with neighbors, but boundaries can be a sensitive issue. 

Fence Ultimate Guide: Complete guide to selecting, buying and installing your dream fence!

The following are a few considerations that you should keep in mind:

  • The HOA guidelines mention that every homeowner shares dual ownership of the boundary. To get familiar with it you have to go through the survey plat.
  • You have to follow these guidelines:
  1. There is a height that has been stated officially. Your fence should meet that height requirement such as at least six feet.
  1.  There is a ‘Setback’ that has to be implemented while installing fences. The term refers to the process of installing fences off the property in a certain area.
  • You have to take confirmation from your neighbors before modifying the fence. If a deadlock arises, then you may face issues.
  • Before you start on the modification work, you have to get the proposal approved by HOA’s Architectural Control Committee. 
  • You have to get all the paperwork approved by the county before any modification or installation.
  1. Not Preparing Before Staining
  • Old Fence: If you are going to stain an old fence then it is extremely crucial to prepare the fence before staining. If not followed, you may end up with uneven staining and harm the wood. Keep the following things in mind:
  • If you are going to stain an old previously installed fence, then you have to make sure to go through the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use a bristle brush to scrub the wood before washing and staining it.
  • New Fence: Preparing a new fence for staining is as important as an old one. You have to make sure that it is suitable for the type of stainer you are about to use. 
  • If the fence is new, then make sure you test the wood through a water test. Spray a little garden hose on a section of the fence to see if it absorbs it. If it does, then it will absorb the stain.
  1.  Staining Too Early
Type of WoodWhen to Stain?
CedarA few months
RedwoodA few months
Pressure Treated6 months after install
  1. Existing fence 

Before you start the process of staining the fence, you have to prepare. There are steps to be taken care of. If you do not prepare for staining it may cause problems. Some of these steps are:

  • Inspection: The first step will be to examine the fence. Lookout for any broken pieces or nails. These things have to be removed and fixed before staining. Otherwise, you will not get a smooth surface.
  • Cleaning: After inspection, clean the fence thoroughly. You should use a cleaner for the same. Cleaning the fence will remove all kinds of impurities, dirt, insects, etc. It will improve the health of the wood. 
  1. The Right Coverings: PPE or Old Clothes.

When you are staining the fence do not forget to cover yourself and your hands up. This is because you can get stained by the pigment. It is very difficult to remove such stains from your body.

To prevent any such mishap, you must cover yourself up. Besides being irritating, these stains may contain harmful substances that might harm your skin.

  1. Using The Wrong Stain

There are two types of stains available in the market: an oil-based stainer or a water-based stainer. This will depend on what type of wood you choose. 

  • Oil-Based Stainer: We recommend this. You must go for a stainer that is oil-based. The reason is that oil stains will penetrate well in the wood. It gives the wood a polished look and is viable for all weather.
  • Water-Based Stainer: We do not recommend using water-based sealants. The fence wood can absorb moisture from the ground and a water-based stainer will not let it evaporate. The wood eventually rots as a result.
  1. What Happens If I Apply Too Much Wood Stain

There is a right amount of stain that has to be applied on the fence. If you apply too much stain, it may result into:

  • Too Dark Stain: The color that the stain leaves will be too dark than the shade you wanted.
  • Stain Spots: When you apply excessive stain, it may leave some stain spots on the wood. The spots are unpleasant to look at and give your fence a tacky appearance.

Hence, make sure that you apply the right amount of stain and remove if any excess is left on the wood.

  1. Staining at the wrong temperature

Staining at the wrong temperatures may result in worn-out results. There should not be any precipitation in the next 24 hours before you stain.

The ideal temperature to stain your fence is recommended to be between 50 to 80 degrees. In temperatures higher than this, it dries out too quickly leaving marks on the wood. In temperatures above, it will take some time to remove the stain.

  1. Results Of Using The Wrong Equipment

The wrong equipment will produce inappropriate results. It is just like handing over someone a pencil when they need a book. 

There are certain types of equipment that you will need before starting the process of staining:

  • Sand Paper
  • Rags
  • Drop Cloth
  • Gel Stain
  • Foam Brush
  • Screw Driver
  • Polyurethane
  • Nitrile Gloves
  1. Not Cleaning Up Before Staining

This can be the biggest blunder one can make before staining. Cleaning is important especially when your fence is an old one. It can be home to dirt and insects.

Imagine adding a layer of stain over the dust and dirt that has accumulated for years. It will give the finish an uneven look and will not let the wood absorb the stain properly.

All you need to wash the fence is a bristle brush, power washer, and water. A few hours and it will be done. Let it dry before staining.

  1. Not Disposing Of Stain Correctly

Pollution is a real threat in the world today. Wood stains too can contribute to it. Stain is nothing but a colorant that is used to protect and beautify the fence.

It is a chemical solution which if not disposed of properly will create a threat to the environment. 

In some parts of the world, it is not legal to dispose of chemicals properly. You have to follow a proper process.

Be it for environmental laws or the environment itself, you have to make sure that you dispose of the stain properly.


What are the Cons of Fencing?

Everything has two sides. Fencing too has a flip side and that is negative. What are the cons of fencing?

  • Investment and Upkeep

It is not easy to upkeep the fence. At least once a year you have to invest your time and money in the modification and maintenance. If you are installing a whole new fence then be ready for the expenses.

  • Neighbors: 

There are two types of parts in the world. One where putting up a fence may be seen as an unfriendly move and the second where you are the co-owner of the fence with your neighbor. There can be issues in both situations.

Is Staining Your Fence Worth It?

Yes, definitely. Staining is not only about coloring the fence but has other functions as well:

  • Protection: Staining will protect the fence from UV rays, hard weather conditions, and physical damage.
  • Increasing Wood Life: Another function of staining is to increase the life of the wood. When you stain the wood, it will be preserved with chemicals. This will result in the fence lasting longer.

Will cheap stains work as well as more expensive stains? 

  • No, they will not. You should use at least a 10-year stain and apply two coats in order to keep your fence protected for years to come.

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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