Before checking your newest wood fence off your bucket list, you must seal or stain it first. Doing so prolongs its life and increases your property’s value—and overall appeal. But the question is when to stain or increase your new wood fence? Here’s everything you need to know about fence painting and staining. 

How Does Weather Exposure Ruin Your Wooden Fence?

A natural polymer you’d typically see inside wood is lignin. It can repel water while binding the cells together, keeping the structure intact. Prolonged exposure to harsh weather can destroy lignin and loosen its fibers. After all, when it rains, the exposed wooden frame sucks up the water, eventually causing it to rot. 

Therefore, if you don’t apply waterproofing on the wooden fences before decomposition begins, expect them to swell up. And when the sun rises, it’ll dry out the wood—shrinking the fibers again. After all, it stresses the wooden surface, preventing bonding with paint or sealant. 

Note that you may not see the changes in the wood’s surface until after painting it. Once done, you’ll eventually see the peeling and cracking paint. And this is bad enough, but expect it to get worse when it begins to peel as it can take the wood surface with it entirely. Therefore, it degrades your wood fence more.

Wood Types

Why You Should Stain or Seal Your Wood Fence

Wood fences aren’t only appealing additions to a property and can be a fruitful financial investment! After all, fences add some value to a home or any property. But these need sealing or staining to boost their appeal and lifespan!

Remember, wood can swell when wet and contract when dry. That means persistent swelling and tightening can lead to cracks, damaging your wood fence. Also, the sun’s UV rays may create issues like fading or warping if it doesn’t receive proper treatment. 

Moreover, wooden fences are also vulnerable to molding, decay, and rotting.

What Is the Best Time to Seal or Stain a New Wood Fence?

The best time to perform sealing or staining fences depends on the kind of wood, time of manufacture, and climate in your vicinity. For instance, if you’ve recently put up a pressure-treated pine wooden fence, you must wait until it’s 100% dry before sealing and staining.

If the wood isn’t dry when sealing or staining the fence, don’t expect the treatment to be as effective. After all, it won’t adhere to wood all the way! Meanwhile, instant sealing and staining are ideal if you’ve put up a cedar wood fence. And if you wait too long for structures like this, they might break apart fast, and you’ll need to wash them using a particular cleaner!

Aside from those general guidelines, there are other ways to determine the waiting period before staining or sealing a wood fence. Consider the type of wood used, and wait for the proper time. This will give it enough time for the wood to dry and weather. A dry spell or less rain in your location may mean you don’t have to wait too long.types of woods

Know Your Wood

Know what wood your fence is made from to know better when to stain or seal it. After all, not all woods are the same, and some can last longer than others, even when exposed to harsh elements. Below is an overview of common woods used for fences and their durability:

  • Strongest Wood – white oak, yew, and black locust. 
  • Highly Durable Wood – red oak, redwood, western juniper, and red cedar. 
  • Weakest (Less Durable) Wood – white or Douglas fir, alder, pine, and cottonwood. 

Regardless of the wood used, all fences require waterproofing. Still, it pays to know the different woods to know when it’ll last. 

What If You’ve Waited Too Long?

If you’ve waited too long to stain or seal your new wood fence, it’ll become weathered or grayed fast. Luckily, you can sand it down to remove these impairments. Or you can wash them down with specialty cleaners and apply a finish coat. 

What if You Don’t Have Time to Wait?

If you’ve installed a pressure-treated wood fence, you have no choice but to wait! Meanwhile, if you have a wooden fence made from dried material like cedar, you can wash and treat it to accept a finish ASAP instead of waiting months. You only need to wait a few days after cleaning the fence. 

Sealers and Stains: Explained 

painting a wood


Fence sealers are clear or transparent finishes that coat a wooden surface. Its primary function is to repel moisture, making it beneficial for protecting wood against water. And this can go a long way as unwanted moisture build-up on the material can cause fungal growth and eventual rotting. But as threatening as water is to your wood fence, it isn’t the only issue you must face. 

The sun’s UV rays are also a huge issue that can cause your wooden fence’s color to fade and turn gray. Aside from that, it may also lead to cracks or splits in the wood. 

Unfortunately, sealers don’t offer much UV protection. Depending on the sun rays your wood fence gets exposed to, your fence’s color may only last between 3 and 6 months with a sealer. And you’ll need to reapply annually. 

Overall, sealers are generally easier to apply and don’t need much expertise.

Wood fence stains


Stains are more robust and can penetrate wood, unlike sealers. And like their name, wood stains contain pigments that can change a wood’s color entirely. And this gives wood fences more protection against harsh UV rays. It also boasts the same water-repelling qualities as sealers. 

There are various stains available, ranging from transparent to solid versions. The right opacity level depends on the surface type and your unique preference. 

However, stains are more expensive than sealers, can last up to 5x longer, and looks better overall. So with this, you’re 100% getting your money’s worth. But stains are more challenging to apply than sealers and are usually best left to the pros. 


Staining and sealing your new wood fence are crucial in maintaining its aesthetic appeal, durability, and investment! Besides this, it’s worth your time, effort, and cash to stain and seal other wooden projects like your porch, deck, or outdoor furniture. And as tempting as it is to save money, it’s better to leave it to the pros. So, you’d naturally want to ensure you’re getting the most out of your money! 

Roots Landscaping, the most sought-after Connecticut fencing service provider, can help you! We can ensure you’re getting the most out of your money while maintaining quality results. Our woodworkers are experts in the field and are certified to do the job for you. They use the best equipment to preserve your new wood fence in CT. We can color it in a way that fits your unique style!