Tell Me A Non-expert Can Stain a Fence

I have opposable thumbs, cognition and the ability to walk upright. Please tell me I don’t have to splash out $2000 for an expert to stain/seal a fence, a front porch and deck w/ an attached staircase.
I’ve painted (w/ a roller) most of the inside of this house, it’s the same thing but outdoors, right?

You don’t have to spend $2000 to do that! Yikes–is that to build it too? Staining is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t cost you anything like that amount. Did you only get the one quote?

If you can paint you can stain. Simple as that.

Not a fun job but not a difficult one. And certainly not worth $2000!

It’s a lot of square footage, I’ll give them that, he thinks it will take 2 days to ‘get it right’, but still…I have the time to do it myself.
I’m getting a second estimate, yes. But if they don’t come down by half, I’ll happily do it myself.
Is there stain that seals at the same time?

There’s really not much to it. The wood will likely be pretty thirsty so you’ve got to give it enough stain for it to dry uniformly. A roller or sprayer will work better than a brush. Other than that it just takes a whole lot of time, for me half again what I estimated. You say you’ve got that though.

It’s not hard to do it right. It’s just a pain in the ass to get all surfaces. Don’t stain and seal a just constructed out of treated wood structure.

Yes, it’s possible to do yourself. The real trick is convincing the neighbors to do it for you.

No, the real trick is convincing your neighbors to pay you to allow them to do it.

Beware using a sprayer though. My dad thought he could take on the whole deck several years back and used a sprayer and it was uneven and looked pretty pitiful. That said, we had a “professional” do it and it still looks pretty lacking in my opinion. In both cases I think the issue was simply not using enough stainer/sealer or applying it evenly.

The youngest construction is 1.6 years old pieces of replacement fencing, so we’re good there. Everything else is 3-5 years old.

How very Tom Sawyerly!

Maybe I could sit stride my unicorn and supervise them?

I’ll use a small paint roller, the 6" ones, I think. I have tendinitis in both wrists so I have to be cautious about the amount of weight I put on them for long periods of time. I’ve been scoping out the sealing stain on Lowe’s.com and think I’ve narrowed my choices down. I understand stain is far more forgiving than eggshell finish interior paint, so I should be okay!

I’ve passed your thread on to my former professional painter husband to see if he has any advice for you. I know we painted our old fence, and while it was kind of a pain, it was nowhere near worth paying $2000 for.

I stain my deck every year and the fence about every other year. The deck is 40 x 12. It takes a full day.

There are 6" pads the go on the end of a broom handle. You can get them at your local box store. That will keep you from having to crawl around on the deck all day. You will also want a 4" brush to hit gaps between the boards.

Thank you, I appreciate any experienced input!

Are the pads easier or lighter than the roller? Any hints on where to start/end on the deck? It has 2 staircases and one egress door into the house so I’m not too fearful of trapping myself, but I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life.

Depends on the stain. I managed to scew up this job by using “Thompsons waterseal” and it wsn’t the first ime I’d stained a deck. I wasn’t really a stain, more like a thin paint than went on blotchy and didn’t flow into the cracks very well at all. So, I don’t recommend this product.

Just plan on spending a lot of time on it. It sounds like you have a lot of surface to cover and a fence gets really boring after you’ve done a million slats or so and look up to see that you are only half way done. $2000 seems like a lot of money for this job until you’ve stared at a half stained fence for a couple of years.

Recommend watching Karate Kid for proper technique.
:slight_smile:

I’m planning to use lots of this!

In my fence and deck staining experience, I have found that the staining doesn’t take long at all. It is the prep work beforehand. I rinsed briefly with water, scrubbed everything with a 5% bleach solution, rinsed with water, let dry for 3 days. Then did just as Dano83860 said, used the pad-like attachment (mine was more like a furry velvety than a sponge) and the deck rails took about an hour, the deck +stairs (40’x15’) took 20 minutes, and the fence (the 6" cedar slats kind about 40 feet long 6’ high 2 sides) took about an hour. With the pad, I put it on thick and then came back after getting most of the stain onto the surface and the absorbant pad sucked it right back up. The greatest trick is staining every year or two- it is much, much easier as the wood is in much better condition.

The pad is easier to control and won’t spray paint all over like a roller does when it spins. Start at the house and work your way off. That way you are not stuck next to the house and can do the last boards from off the deck. You also don’t want to drag dirty paint cans brushes etc throught the house.

B/c the house needs it as well and this is all being done to sell the place, I’m having a pro pressure-wash the whole shebang; so I’ll give it 2-3 days to dry and begin my job! I’m aiming for mid-March when it’s still windy from winter, warm from spring but not so humid here in Middle GA yet.

Thanks for the hint!! When you all have said pad, I was picturing something sponge-like that I feared would drag/skip; I’m realizing that stain is much thinner than the pain I’m used to, and also, you meant something like this. I assume it has some kind of attachment on the back, so you can put it at the top of the slat and just drag it down in a wiping motion?

You can save some time and you wrists by using a pump sprayer to apply the stain, then rollers or pads to even it up. Make sure to strain and filter the stain well when filling the sprayer tank, the tips clog easily.

Check the contents of the sealer/stain you are using. Many of the commercial brands are nothing but alcohol, heavy wax-like oils and a little coloring. The alcohol is going to evaporate and is just wasted money (it’s not even the good type of alcohol). Check a real paint store for better choices.

I started using Watco oil on my white cedar log cabin after bleaching with oxalic acid last summer. Looks fabulous even after a bad winter here.

This is unconfirmed, but smelly oils are reputed to drive out bugs and keep them away.

I’ve found the pumping action is as bad if not worse for my wrists, sadly.
Thanks for the heads up on the products; when we build a house we’re going to live in more than a few months we’ll keep those in mind!