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Staining a Fence Cost

Wooden fence staining is a great way to extend the life of your precious fence. Staining will enrich the colour of the wood and also protects it from the elements. Read on to find out when the best time is to apply fence stain and many other tips besides.

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Introduction to Staining a Fence Cost

Wooden fence staining is a great way to extend the life of your precious fence. Staining will enrich the colour of the wood and also protects it from the elements.

A top-quality stain can protect your fence from long-term damage, enhancing it’s good looks for years to come.

Choosing the right time for staining a fence is crucial. Starting the job too soon may not give long-lasting results, whilst waiting too long before starting may affect your fencing's lifespan.

Read on to find out when the best time is to apply fence stain and many other tips besides.

How Much Does It Cost to Stain Fences?

The table below highlights the average cost of the all supplies needed for staining a fence and their associated costs:

Supply Average Cost
Small wood fence with oil stain £8-£10
Large wood fence with oil stain £15-£20
Small wood fence with gel stain £10-£15
Large wood fence with gel stain £18-£22
Small wood fence with a dye stain £20-£22
Large wood fence with a dye stain £22-£25
Paintbrush set £3-£10

Here’s a general checklist, which could prove useful when hiring someone to stain your fence:

  • Ask your chosen contractor for samples of stains, checking them for quality and pricing.
  • Make sure that your contractor is well trained, experienced and has completed similar jobs before.
  • Compare the prices and quotes between at least three contractors.
  • Try to speak to any previous clients and check references, reviews and pictures of their previous work to ensure yours is a trusted and capable contractor.
  • Check to see if your contractor is part of a trade association and is properly covered by insurance.
  • Compile a comprehensive price list and get an itemised receipt before settling on payment.

Below is a table with average costs and timeframes for employing a contractor to stain a fence:

Job Description Duration Material Cost Labour Cost
8 panels, 2m x 2m each, with oil stain for one day's work £20 £150
12 panels, all 2m x 2m each with oil stain 1-2 days £40 £225
8 panels, 1m x 2m each, with oil stain 4-6 hours £20 £100
12 panels, 1m x 2m each with oil stain 6-8 hours £20 £125
8 panels, 1m x 2m each, with gel stain 4-6 hours £30 £100
12 panels, 2m x 2m each with gel stain 1-2 days £40 £225
8 panels, 1m x 2m each, with a dye stain 5-6 hours £35 £120

When deciding upon a professional company to stain your fence, consider other jobs that could be done simultaneously. Additional tasks could be included in the quote. Location can also have a huge effect on the price of the job. Average prices for those living in London are the surrounding areas can be as much as an extra £20-£50.

The larger the fence, the more fence panels will need to be stained, which, in turn means more cost implications, as it will take longer to complete the job, and the labour costs will be higher. Smaller fences will typically cost between £150-£250, whilst large fences can cost anywhere between £300-£400.

If embarking upon this job as a DIY project, ensure that you wear old clothing and gloves. It's almost impossible to stain or paint a fence without getting some of it on your clothes! Decide how you will apply the stain - whether you preference is for a roller, pump, brush, or a power spray.

If you decide to use a roller or spray, it's best to still use a brush for the tops and the edges of the fence, plus any other hard to reach areas, such as the small spaces between fence panels and posts. Traditional paintbrushes will work well with stain, and smaller, 2-inch brushes work well for any small, fiddly or hard-to-reach areas.

Garden pump sprayers are a simple, effective and quick way to stain, but remember that you will need goggles, a pair of gloves and a breathing filter or mask for safety. When staining, a roller is not the best method to choose for use on a fence, because it tends to leave uneven marks on the fence. These marks will then need to be re-stained.

Make sure you complete an entire fence section at a time when applying the stain. This will avoid any overlapping streaks. Ensure your fence is clean before applying the stain; brushing in a downwards motion to remove any dust, mould or mildew.

Try to check on the weather forecast before you begin. You don't want to apply stain in extreme heat or cold. The fence will need to be dry when applying stain, so avoid working on rainy days.

If it has rained recently, you will need to wait for a few days after the last rainfall before starting. This is to enable the fence to dry out properly. How many coats need to be applied? Always follow the manufacturer's instructions as to the number of coats required.

When choosing the right stain, ensure that the product is recommended for exterior use and buy enough to treat the fence, allowing for more than one coat. Finally, don't bother applying stain to an old, rotten fence. Once the fence has rotted, it will need completely replacing. Here are the main reasons you should stain fences regularly:

Protection From Adverse Weather Conditions

Staining your fence is an excellent way to protect it from any adverse weather conditions. It's not uncommon for rain, frost, and sun to cause major damage to wooden fences due to mold, cracks, rotting or dampness.

Regular staining and maintenance are some of the best and easiest ways you can make sure your fence stays robust and protected for many years.


Your fencing will last a lot longer and require less maintenance if you routinely stain it, ensuring that the wood stays dry and well protected.

If the wood is of high-quality, and you paid a lot for it, you will want it to last as long as possible, and staining will help in this regard.

Limit UV Damage

Staining can help maintain fences that are positioned in direct sunlight, because UV damage can strip away layers and colouring from wood throughout time, causing it to crack and split.

If you live somehwere warm and sunny, you'll need to stain your fence every few years to ensure it has lasting protection.

Kerb Appeal

Some people stain their fences for the aesthetically pleasing finish that they give. The wood is left looking like new, glossy and attractive.

A regularly stained fence can match different decor and colours throughout your garden, pleasingly enhancing the neat and attractive appearance.

Type of Fence Stain

There are many different types of fence stain to choose from and of these, oil stains are the most common and usually cheaper. They cost around £15 for a litre pot. Gel stains are also pretty affordable, costing around £20 whilst dye-based stains typically cost around £25 per litre pot.

A fence stain colours or changes the appearance of the wood. So a 'stain' could be anything from a simple wood stain, a coloured wood preservative, coloured wood oil or garden or fence paint.

Choosing the best product for your project can be as simple as colour preference, the wood protection it offers, or simply the budget you have available for the project.

Exterior wood preservatives provide an all-round solution for colouring and protecting wooden fences. They protect garden fences from mold, algae, fungi, wood rot and insect attack, and are available in many shades of brown, green and black.

Fence stains seal the wood's surface preventing water ingress and stopping wood rot and decay. Stains penetrate deep into the wood's surface, rather than simply coating the tops. They are also have the added flexibility of moving with the wood, resisting any peeling, cracking or flaking that might otherwise occur.

Exterior wood oils can be a great way to colour and protect wooden garden fences. They will stain or colour the fence and the oil will penetrate deep into the wood. This provides excellent weather protection and will also keep the wood supple and help prevent fence timbers from cracking, splitting and warping in temperature extremes.

What Does Staining a Fence Involve?

Staining is an essential, but fairly cheap part of fence maintenance. A well-maintained wooden fence will last many years if maintained properly. If not painted or stained every few years, they will quickly rot, look awful and eventually fall over in heavy winds.

Below is a step-by-step guide on what is involved when staining a fence:

1. Cleaning

This will not be necessary if your fence has recently been installed, but needed only if you're intention is to stain an old fence.

Mix a multi-use cleaning solution with water and apply it liberally to the fence using a hard wire brush. Next, scrub off all the dirt, mould, cobwebs and debris. Then leave it to dry thoroughly before staining.

2. Ensure the Surfaces are Smooth, Without Any Flaking Paint

More is necessary on an old fence, but if you've installed a new fence, the surface should be smooth.

Thoroughly sand the wood, using a coarse sandpaper to get rid of chips and shavings for a simple staining process. Then use a finer sandpaper to obtain a smoother finish.

2. Staining

Start to apply your chosen stain to each fence panel, allowing them completely dry before re-applying or touching up the fence. Leave the job for a warm and dry day to avoid adverse weather conditions messing up your staining.

3. Frequency

Paint or stain your fence every 2-3 years to replace the stain's previous layer.

Staining the fence creates a barrier that prevents moisture from damaging the wood. Wet regions of the country will need stain their fences more frequently, but check your fence for signs of wear and tear.

Beading indicates that the stain or paint needs to be re-applied. Water should bead up on the surface of the fence, but if it soaks in instead, it’s time to stain it. Staining a wood fence accentuates the grain and protects against damaging UV rays, as long as your wood stain contains UV inhibitors.

Sunlight can bleach your fencing, making the wood look dull and uninspiring. Staining your fence regularly will help to avoid this happening.

Insects can also be a source of damage to your fence by eating through it (usually from the inside out). A good quality stain on the fencing will block this and prevent it from happening.

Typically staining will reduce maintenance costs as fences that are not stained regularly often need repairing or replacing because the boards warp and get damaged. Factors affecting the need for maintenance include:

  • The fence is south-facing and therefore exposed to the maximum amount UV light.
  • Mold or mildew can appear on the boards.
  • The boards are rotting or damaged due to the weather conditions.
  • The type of wood used in your fence. Softwoods such as pine will require more frequent maintenance than fences made from hardwoods like oak.
  • Naturally, rot-resistant wood such as cedar can have longer intervals between treatments.

DIY Fence Staining

Staining a fence, although sometimes considered an easy DIY project, can be extremely time-consuming. But it is a job worth doing as it will extend the life expectancy of the fence by several years simply by protecting it from the elements.

Before you stain your fence, make sure that it's yours to treat! Some people are not entirely sure which part of the fence is their responsibility and which is their neighbour's. If you have any doubts just check with your local building regulations and planning office before starting the work.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, you will need to find out who is responsible for what. Also, be sure to check the deeds to your home to find out if there are any boundary agreements in place.

If you're staining a fence as part of a DIY cost saving exercise, and hoping to save on the cost of staining a fence professionally, check out the various supply costs of the materials and equipment needed for the job.

This can differ depending on the size, quality and type of fence you're after and make a considerable impact on the staining a fence cost. When applying a stain to a fence, you have the choice of brushes, rollers or pads. For the best results, if using a brush, pick a staining brush that's 4 or 5 inches wide.

If using a pad, the best type for fence staining is a pad with a soft nap. Finally, if you decide to use a roller, any paint roller will do the job, but make sure it’s light enough for you to hold for an extended period of time.

Older wooden fences may have mold, mildew, dirt and other debris that may affect how well the wood absorbs the wood stain.

  • Make sure you clean the fence a couple of days before staining it in order for it to have time to dry out.
  • Wear protective gear whilst working on the fence such as rubber gloves and protective goggles.
  • Mix 1-part household bleach with three parts water in a plastic bucket and scrub your fence with this solution.
  • Rinse the fence with a hose to remove all traces of the solution.
  • Lay a sheet of plastic, canvas or cardboard under the fence to protect any concrete, grass or plants from stain drips.
  • Using the pad, brush or roller, dip it into the wood stain, then apply it to your fence in an event coat, working your way from one fence board to the next.
  • Work from the top of the fence to the bottom to prevent uneven dripping. Follow any product-specific guidelines on the wood stain label as thickness and coat requirements vary by manufacturer.
  • Solid-coloured stains will need only one coat to protect your fence. Semi-transparent penetrating stains often need two coats. The second coat should be applied approximately an hour after the first coat.

Any surface can be difficult to paint unless you have had a lot of experience, and fencing is no different.

If you have decided to paint the fence yourself, it's important not to miss any of the fence's small hidden areas. Doing so will result in weather damage which will eventually affect the integrity of your fence.

So it may be wise to consider using a professional, as painting your fence yourself may leave it vulnerable to damage from the elements. The job of painting a fence can be both tiring and arduous, which could impact on the physical health of those less able-bodied.

If you crave a professional finish with guaranteed protection for your fence, it is advised to hire a painter to do the work for you. Ensure your fence is dry before you begin staining, make sure that it hasn't been raining for at least 24 hours.

Potential Problems and Pitfalls

When deciding on the right wood stain, it's essential to research each different type and how they can benefit your fencing. Each stain holds various chemicals to differentiate between types. Below is a list of different types of fence stain.

Oil Stain

This is the most common type of fence stain and is reasonably priced, cleans up easily, and offers durable protection throughout all weather types.

The typical cost of an oil stain is around £10 - £15 per litre pot. The potential problems are that they can be susceptible to mould and mildew and are also high maintenance.

Gel Stains

These are similar to oil stains, but with a thicker texture, making the application harder, but the result is a more refined finish.

It's essential to apply with as much precision as possible as they dry fast, so mistakes aren't easy to alter.

Dye Stains

These are very different from typical staining products, as they are produced in powder form, which then has to be mixed with water before using.

These dyes are prone to fading and are also high maintenance.

Semi-transparent Water-based Stains

These are very difficult to use if you are inexperienced and almost impossible to achieve a uniform coating with once applied. Experts suggest using a water-based solid stain to cover blemishes on old wood.

A fence post that is planted in the ground, wicks moisture from the ground upwards which will eventually exit through the top of the post by evaporation.

The parts in contact with the ground also soak up groundwater. The horizontal boards on the fence or deck, although not in direct contact with the ground will still expel moisture from the top to dry.

If using a latex or water-based stain and sealer on your fence, you are in effect, shrink-wrapping the wood to protect it. Although water cannot penetrate this coating, the moisture from the ground inside the wood has no means of escape and will eventually begin to rot the wood prematurely.

Oil-based stains penetrate deep into the wood, protecting the fence from the inside out. An oil-based stain allows the wood to breathe and wick moisture the way nature intended still naturally.

Get the preparation right, and don't skimp when it comes to your stain selection.

Applying a stain improves the longevity and appearance of the fence. A wooden fence will weather naturally and over time you may notice that the wood looking grey. This tends to occur only after years of exposure to the elements.

Adding a good quality stain will make your wood beautiful for longer and add a protective layer. It also improves the durability of the fence. Unlike paint, a stain enhances the woods natural colour and texture. Many people prefer this natural look.

Staining a fence can take a lot of of time, depending on how big your fence is. Be sure to use a high-quality stain. >You will need to strip any old paint away before applying the new stain. Check your wood carefully for structural or cosmetic defects before applying the stain. Repair any holes and replace any broken boards.

A quality stain will help your fence resist the rigors of our weather, and other environmental hazards. If you decide to apply it yourself or hire someone to help you, staining your wood fence on a regular basis is essential to keep it in good condition for many years to come.

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Sam J

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