How to Stain a Fence With a Sprayer




Introduction: How to Stain a Fence With a Sprayer

About: DIY Montreal is all about woodworking & DIY projects. I post how-to videos on my YouTube channel, as well as step-by-step tutorials on my website Builds include mainly woodshop project…

It's amazing how great a brand new fence looks but how quickly the wood dries out and looks dull. Before you know it the sun, snow and rain have their way and your fence looks weathered and gray.

Restoring a fence with a new coat of stain is an easy DIY project anyone can do, but doing it with a sprayer is 10 times faster and just plain fun!


Step 1: Fence Prep

My fence was installed last year so it still looks great, but I want to apply a protective coat to keep it looking that way. Even though it’s a relatively new fence, it still needs to be cleaned before applying stain, just like any fence does.

Do I really have to wash it first? Yes, you really do.

With a closer look, you can see some watermarks and stains. But even if there weren’t any visible stains, it’s really important to first clean the fence. It’s tempting to skip this step, but if you do, your new stain might look great at first, but won’t last very long.

Step 2: Wash the Fence

You can use a power washer, but I don’t recommend it, as power washers can actually do more harm than good and tend to raise the wood fibers leaving a rugged surface. Instead I’m going to use a wood cleaner as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

After hosing down the fence, I filled my paint sprayer half way up with some water and filled the other half with this wood cleaner. I figured if I could use my sprayer for staining, I could certainly use it for cleaning too.

I liberally applied the cleaning solution to the fence, not really concerned with the spray pattern at this point since my goal is just to flood the surface. As you can see, it goes on pretty fast. I wasn’t wearing a mask in this shot, but it wasn’t long until I grabbed my respirator and my safety glasses. Even though this cleaner says its biodegradable, it still contains an acid that can irritate the skin.

After spraying one section of fence, I used a stiff bristle brush to scrub each board one by one. I must say, this is probably the most tedious part of this entire project, but ultimately worth it if you want the stain to last. It’s important to keep the fence wet during the cleaning process, so I washed one section at a time, fully rinsing off all the cleaner with a hose before moving onto the next section.

Step 3: Let It Dry...

Before moving onto to staining, I let the fence fully dry for 48 hours and at this point it’s looking better already!

Step 4: Apply Stain With a Sprayer

Since the fence is in good condition, I’m using a water based clear coat protective finish, just to give it that weather protection, without adding any color. I’m using my new Flexio 3000 sprayer by Wagner that comes ready to use right out of the box. Just need to fill the container and plug it in. This sprayer comes with a wide angle spray nozzle specifically made for fences, so I’m looking forward to testing it out.

I should mention at this point that any hardware, plants or adjacent structures should be covered to protect them for the stain. Since I was using a clear coat I threw caution to the wind and skipped that step. What’s the expression- Do as I say and not as I do?

I started by coating all the vertical boards, before flipping the nozzle to the horizontal position and working on the horizontal boards. I worked the fence one section at a time, going with the direction of the grain, making sure to slightly overlap each pass. In the beginning, I had to adjust the spray settings a couple times in order to dial it in just right. But really, it’s really pretty intuitive. It only took me about a minute and a half to fully coat one fence panel.

Step 5: Back-brush

Once a panel was fully coated I used a synthetic paint brush to back-brush the stain into the fence. This helps the stain penetrate the wood rather than sitting on top and also avoids any runs. The stain dries really fast when sprayed on, so you really need to alternate between spraying and brushing while the stain is still wet.

I worked my way across the fence like this, one panel at a time, until the fence was fully covered. You can already see the difference it makes after just one coat.

Step 6: Apply 2nd Coat

After letting the first coat dry for 2 hours, I applied the second coat. I repeated the exact same application process, spraying one panel at a time and immediately back-brushing the stain using a paint brush.

And that’s it! When all is done, it looks pretty great!


More from DIY Montreal

Be the First to Share


    • CNC and 3D Printing Contest

      CNC and 3D Printing Contest
    • Lamps Challenge

      Lamps Challenge
    • Rice & Grains Challenge

      Rice & Grains Challenge



    3 years ago

    I used to clean and maintain fences professionally. That meant using a pressure washer. As indicated, they can do a lot of damage and do it very quickly.

    Pressure washer tips come in colors to aid in choosing the right tip for the right job. Think of the red tips as carving tips, because they will carve your fence very quickly. So, unless your hand writing is very good and you intend to carve your name in your fence or siding, avoid them.

    Too, when cleaning soft things like wood, avoid the rotary heads. They will just make your washer a better carver.

    My pressure washer is an industrial version. The pressure at the tip is around 4,000 pounds per square inch [PSI]. That is well above the average pressure washer sold for home use. In spite of those numbers, mine has, successfully, and safely cleaned a lot of siding and fences.

    The reason I am able to use a high pressure system without damaging wood is, I use the widest tip available. Usually, this is the WHITE one. The fan produced by the tip spreads the pressure out, rather than concentrating it.

    Keep in mind, you can still carve with the white tips, otherwise you they would not remove the old , loose finish and UV damaged surface wood.

    Key to avoiding carving is, DO NOT pull the handle with the wand pointing at the wood, AND start cleaning with the wand at least two feet away, until you get the feel for what is that happy spot for cleaning. That, probably, will be about a foot and a half down to a foot, depending on your unit.

    Another critical thing to remember is, do not point the wand at windows or anything you do not want to destroy when pulling the trigger. In my years of pressure washing, I've had a lot of tips launch from the wand, never to be found. Had the wand been pointing at a window, it would have broken it.

    Of course, it's good idea to choose your target so, if the tip does launch, you'll know where to find it.

    When done right, the wood may fuzz up, but that is because of the water, rather than the pressure of the unit. This is a common problem in wood work, since even water based stains will raise the wood.

    The problem of raised wood is often solved by raising the wood on purpose, letting it dry, then sanding it, after which the water in the water borne stain will not raise fibers and grain.

    Great Lakes Makes
    Great Lakes Makes

    3 years ago

    Just brushed the deck, and with a fully fenced yard to do... sprayer it is! Thanks for the tips!


    Question 3 years ago on Step 1

    Would this wood cleaner work on water stained knotty pine before staining or is there another option you would recommend?


    Answer 3 years ago

    You may need to use a stripper first too remove the old stain. Depends what state it's in. The wood cleaner will have instructions and recommendations for this.


    Reply 3 years ago

    It does not have any stain or paint on it.I'll try the wood cleaner . Thanks for the reply


    3 years ago

    Nice job on the ibble.

    Any clear surface coat will go south on you. The wood moves, with humidity changes, at a different rate than does the clear coat, so the clear coat will crack and peel.

    The wood dries and, as it does, it shrinks, creating cracks and splits. You can slow and even stop them with a non-hardening oil.

    To use a non-hardening oil, thin it with paint thinner about 15% to 20%. Apply it and let it soak in, then keep applying more oil, until it quits soaking in quickly. Add a final coat and let it set and soak in.

    In a week or two you can add more. The more you add, the more you bring the wood back to a "moisture" content near it was when new. As the oil soaks in, it will swell the wood, causing many of the cracks and splits to disappear.

    If the wood is full of oil, it will, of course, repel water. This will reduce cracking and splitting due to freezing, in areas where that is a problem.

    What you did apply will seem to have evaporated, after a short time in the sun. It isn't. It's wicking deeper into the wood. As the wood takes on more oil, the oil will show more. It will turn gray wood to a gold.

    For a non-hardening oil, you can use common motor oil. I leave it up to you as to where you get it.

    In the end, your fence will look better than neighbor's years down the road.

    If you don't have a sprayer, thinning the oil will allow you to apply it with a pump up sprayer, if you desire. Of course, you can always brush or roll it on.

    Lay plastic under paint/oil buckets to protect concrete. Keep in mind, stepping in the oil will track it.

    Sprayers of all kinds throw mist in the air - WEAR A MASK.


    3 years ago

    The work is beautiful and wonderful like its maker
    Thank you so much


    3 years ago

    That looks beautiful now! :)