The top five fence stains

Updated February 21, 2017

When staining an exterior fence, homeowners should consider a number of factors when selecting their products. Exterior fence stains are available in solid colour and semi-transparent products. Solid colour stains are heavier bodied, while semi-transparent stains allow more of the fence's natural wood grain appearance to show. Semi-transparent stains are typically easier to apply than solid colour stains, while solid colours stains give the homeowner more colour options.

Behr Premium Coatings

According to Consumers Report (CR), Behr brand Deck Plus Solid Color Deck, Fence & Siding won the honours for the best performing stain for the second straight year, as of this publishing date. This product is available nationally at Home Depot stores, and features an excellent balance of durability, colour retention, ease of application at a competitive price. The 100 per cent acrylic formula is available in over 1,600 colours, and is designed to last up to 15 years when installed on exterior fences.

Sears Weatherbeater Brand

According to Consumers Reports, just behind the Behr exterior of solid colours stain is the Sears brand Weatherbeater Solid Deck, Fence & Siding. According to CR testing facilities, this product is not quite as durable as the Behr brand. The stain retails at nearly £3 less than the Behr brand, and is a good choice if your home doesn't face intense weathering, or if the fence is installed in a more shielded location. This latex stain works well on siding, decks and exterior fences.

Sikkens Brand

In the class of oil-based exterior stains, the Sikkens Cetol SRD Semi-Transparent performs better than other brands, and has received high ratings by both CR, and the Consumers Research web site. Semi-transparent oil-based wood stains perform differently than solid colour latex-based state. The solid colour stains are designed to form a watertight pigmented coating over the wood fibres. Oil-based semi-transparent stain is designed to soak in and seal the wood, working with wood's existing oils. The appearance does not hold colour as long as solid colour stains, yet the Sikken's brand stains gained high praise by homeowners and professional painters alike.

National Paint Manufacturers

Following these top three manufacturers, paint and coatings manufacturers Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams both manufacture high-quality solid colour and semi-transparent, latex and alkyd oil-based exterior stains. These manufacturers have created excellent products, which are available exclusively at their retail stores nationwide.

Exclusive Stain Manufacturers

The Olympic stain company, Cabots, and the Thompson's Waterseal coatings companies specialise in exterior stains and finishes. They do not produce paints, like Sherwin-Williams, Glidden, Benjamin Moore and other national coating companies. Their products are available in national retailers, and provide above-average durability. These companies also produce latex and oil-based stains, in both semi transparent and solid colour versions.

Semi-Transparent versus Solid Color

Semi-transparent stain is an excellent choice for exterior fences and decks. Solid colour stains work well on fences and vertical deck surfaces. However, most paint manufacturers discourage applying solid colour stains to a deck's horizontal surfaces. Solid coloured stain wears off quickly, and can become slippery when wet if applied to horizontal deck boards.

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About the Author

Since 2003, Timothy Burns' writing has appeared in magazines, management and leadership papers. He has contributed to nationally published books and he leads the Word Weavers of West Michigan writers' group. Burns wrote "Forged in the Fire" in 2004, and has published numerous articles online. As a trained conference speaker, Burns speaks nationally on the art, science and inspiration of freelance writing.