Projects & Inspiration

Which Finish Is Best For Your Wood Fence?

May 23, 2017

Posted by Ashley VanderWall

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You have three basic finishes to choose from – stain, paint, and waterproofing sealer. Which one you choose depends on the look you want and the protection you need.

Here are a few simple facts about each finish to help you make the right choice:

Dog Ear Wood Fence Picket with Stain


A stain provides a durable finish coat while maintaining the natural look of wood. With stain, you can choose the opacity – solid, semi-transparent or transparent. A solid stain does the best job of hiding imperfections in your wood fence while maintaining the wood texture. A semi-transparent or transparent stain gives the wood fence hint of color, allowing the natural woodgrain to show through beautifully.

Dog Ear Painted Wood Picket


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. It’s best to prime the fence with an oil-based primer prior to painting the fence, and paint the fence with a durable exterior latex paint.

Dog Ear Wood Fence Picket with Sealer

Waterproofing sealer

A waterproofing sealer is best for woods that are not naturally resistant to decay and exposure to weather. The sealer helps prevent rain and moisture from soaking into the wood. Add a UV stabilizer to slow discoloration.

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.