How Should You Finish Your Wood Fence?

Hand painting protective stain on wooden picket fence in backyard

After installing a wood fence, it may lose its color or develop visible cracks or chips over time. If you see the color of your fence start to fade or cracks begin to form, it may be time to finish it. Finishing a wooden fence means coating it with either paint or stain to protect it from wear and tear. On average, you should refinish your wood fence every 2-3 years to keep it in good condition. However, the frequency of refinishing may vary depending on the climate. You may need to refinish your fence in rainy areas more often, as moisture is the primary cause of cosmetic damage. Moisture degrades the paint coating, making it softer and more susceptible to damage.

Ways to Finish Your Wood Fence

To prevent moisture from seeping into your fence, you can finish it with either painting or staining.


Painting is the cheaper option when finishing your fence, as it costs less for a gallon of paint than a stainer. However, you’ll need to repaint your fence more frequently as the sealer’s protective period against moisture is shorter than a stainer. Painting is also better for filling in chips and cracks and making your fence look as good as if it was just installed! You can also use specific wood fillers to fill in chips and cracks.


Staining is a better option for longer-lasting fence protection despite being more expensive. Plus, if you are worried about color, many staining products come in a specific color. Staining products are often combined with a sealer, which adds that extra layer of protection against rain and moisture.

Tools and Materials

Your local hardware store should have everything you need to finish your fence, but you might already have them sitting in your garage at home! We’ve compiled a list of tools and materials to help you finish your fence.

  • Stain or paint roller/brush
  • Exterior paint or stain
  • Wire brush
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper
  • High-pressure nozzle attachment on your garden hose
  • Drop cloth

Prepping Your Fence

Most of these tools and materials are for prepping your fence before finishing it. Prepping your fence is crucial for the finish to be long-lasting and more impactful.

  1. Use a drop cloth to prep the ground below your fence so the paint doesn’t get over your property. 
  2. Wire-brush your fence with soapy water.
  3. Rinse off your fence with your garden hose using a high-pressure nozzle.
  4. Sand the fence with sandpaper so the paint or stain will adhere properly.
  5. Use masking tape to mask off the places you do not want painted or stained.
  6. You are ready to finish your fence!

Let us Repair Your Fence

With proper maintenance and finishing, a typical wooden fence’s lifespan is around 15-20 years. Luckily, Rugged Fence can repair or replace your wooden fence when it surpasses its lifespan or if you have any other issues with it. We are experts in all styles of wooden fences, from split rails to picket fences, so we can fix any problem with any wooden fence you have! Contact us for expert repair and maintenance on your fence today!

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