How to Paint a Fence With Oil Stain

Updated November 21, 2016

An affordable and simple way to add colour and interest to a wood fence is with a layer of stain. Oil stains are often more durable and weather-resistant for this purpose than water-based stains. Oil stains come in a variety of colours and shades that will add beauty and protection to your wooden fence. They are also as simple to apply as water-based stains. It is important to stain your fence outdoors or in a well ventilated area.

Prepare the surface of your fence. If your fence needs any repairs, it is important to address them before you begin staining as they will only be more visible once the stain has dried. Fill any holes with woodfill. Sand down the surface of your fence with coarse-grit sandpaper and wipe it down with a warm, damp washcloth. Allow the surface to dry before staining.

Apply your oil-based stain using a sponge brush. Dip your sponge brush halfway into the stain and lightly scrape off any excess stain. Apply to the surface of your fence following the grain of the wood. Always stain either vertically or horizontally, never both. Absorb any drips or excess stain with your sponge brush and smooth over the surface of your fence.

Allow the coat to dry fully before applying a second coat as needed. A successful stain job is only as good as the preliminary sanding. If imperfections are still visible after your first coat or you see that the stain is adhering unevenly, you might want to sand again and start over. Allow 24 hours to dry in between coats of stain. Apply until you are satisfied with the darkness of the colour and saturation.

Add a layer of polyurethane to seal in the stain once you have achieved the desired level of stain. Polyurethane will add gloss and further seal your stained wood. Many oil-based stains contain polyurethane in the stain so this step might be unnecessary. Apply it as you did the stain, using a sponge brush and going with the grain of the wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Woodfill
  • Coarse-grit sandpaper
  • Washcloth
  • Oil-based stain
  • Sponge brush
  • Polyurethane (optional)
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About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.