Projects & Inspiration

Which Finish Is Best For Your Wood Fence?

Updated October 29, 2020

Posted by Ashley VanderWall

Regularly applying a finish to your wood fence is a key part of wood fence maintenance. There are a variety of finishes you can use on your wood fence. So how do you know which is right for you? In this blog, we'll walk through the different finishes and how to choose which is best for you.

Common Wood Fence Finishes


A stain provides a durable finish coat while still allowing the woodgrain texture to shine through. With stains, there are different levels of opacity – solid, semi-transparent or transparent stain. A solid stain does the best job of hiding imperfections in your wood fence. A semi-transparent or transparent stain gives the wood fence some color,while also maintaining the overall look of the wood.

Solid Stain

Semi-Transparent Stain

Transparent Stain


Paint adds color as it protects and seals the fence. It adds personality. With paint, you can coordinate the color with your home or other decorative accents. And paint does the best job of fully coating the fence with color. If you're painting your fence, it's best to prime the fence first with an oil-based primer. Then follow up with one or two coats of a durable latex-based exterior paint.


Waterproofing sealer

Waterproofing sealer is the way to go if you want to maintain your fence's bright, natural look. It's clear and offers little color change to the wood. This sealer is best for wood fences that don't have natural resistance to decay and exposure to weather. The sealer helps prevent rain and moisture from soaking into the wood. You can also add a UV stabilizer to slow discoloration.


To decide which is best for your wood fence, answer these questions:

  1. What look do you want? Do you want to see natural woodgrain? Do you like the natural wood color, or do you want to change it?
  2. What protection do you need?
  3. What type of wood is your fence made of? Does one finish work better than others on that type of wood?

Did you decide which finish is best for you? Wait until your fence is completely dry to apply the finish. To keep your wood fence looking good year after year, reapply the finish every two years. Learn more about wood fence care and maintenance here.