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Raw wood is vulnerable to rot, decay, mold, mildew, water damage, and insect infestations. Although fresh lumber starts out strong and sturdy, it doesn’t stay that way without help.

Maintaining your wood fence is key to preserving the look, function, and longevity of your fence. If you want to extend the life of your fence, you must take steps to upkeep it.

One of the best ways to prolong a wood fence is to apply a fresh coat of stain. Staining your fence is a critical component to protecting that vulnerable wood from inclement weather, harsh sun rays, and normal wear and tear.

Did you know that staining wood in cold weather can affect the outcome of the staining and curing process? That’s why we advise our customers to proceed with caution if they want to stain their fence in chilly conditions.

The Benefits of Staining Your Wood Fence

Before we dive into the logistics of staining your wood fence, let’s review why you should stain your fence on a regular basis.

As a Denver lumber supply company, we have discovered that some homeowners put off staining their wood fences due to the upfront cost. We understand that purchasing stain comes with a price tag, but when you consider the long-term benefits, staining your fence actually saves you time and money.

How so?

Staining your fence helps you avoid repairs. Think of the cost to replace broken boards, sun-damaged panels, rotted slats, or insect-infested wood.

Furthermore, think of the cost that comes with completing those repairs again and again. Every single repair adds up.

The worst case scenario is that the fence prematurely deteriorates to the point of no return. If that happens, you would be forced to build an entirely new fence. The cost of a whole new fence pales in comparison to the price tag of a can or two of wood stain.

When Should You Stain Your Wood Fence?

Knowing that staining a fence takes time, energy, and money, it’s not a project that you want to ruin. Homeowners should be aware of what is required in order to properly stain a fence, and the right weather makes all the difference.

While staining wood might feel like an art project, it’s practically a mini science experiment – a science experiment that needs the proper circumstances to turn out as it should.

Here are our top three suggestions to consider before beginning a winter wood-staining endeavor.

#1 – Check the Thermometer

What is the optimal outdoor temperature for staining wood? Well, it’s far from an average day during a Colorado winter. Temperatures should range between 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When you attempt to stain a fence in colder temperatures, you run into several problems.

The stain needs to be able to soak into the wood, and when the temperature is too low, the stain cannot seep into the wood very well. When the stain cannot penetrate the wood, it can freeze on the surface of the wood. Consequently, the stain will chip and fall off.

The next complication occurs when the stain takes too long to cure due to low temps. If the stain cannot dry and cure quickly enough, it will create an uneven appearance resulting in color and gloss variations. The goal is to improve the look and function of your fence, not the opposite.

Plus, don’t forget that you want steady temperatures from beginning to end, not just when applying the stain. You need the daytime highs and the nighttime lows to remain above 50 degrees while the stain is drying.

#2 – Look at the Forecast

A wet forecast is just as bad as a cold forecast. Dry conditions are an absolute must to stain a fence, and our winter months are filled with rain, sleet, and snow.

Wet wood is a definite no-go when trying to apply a coat of stain. If your wood fence is saturated from recent weather, give it a minimum of two days to dry out. Unfortunately, that can be a near impossible task when the winter is full of precipitation.

Furthermore, dry wood is just one part of the equation. Let’s say you are certain the wood is dry and you move forward with staining your fence during cooler temperatures. You also need dry conditions while the stain is drying and curing. Make sure to track the forecast for incoming winter storms before starting.

#3 – Purchase the Right Products

If you simply can’t wait for warmer weather, then find products that are designed to be used during cooler temperatures. You can buy stains specifically formulated to be used during cold temperatures. That typically means you should look for a fast-drying stain with incorporated accelerants that speed up the curing process.

For example, you can buy water-based stains or oil-based stains. Water-based stains rely on evaporation to dry out, and that’s hard to come by when temperatures are low. Oil-based stains do not depend on evaporation to dry out like water-based stains do.

That doesn’t mean oil-based stains are the instant answer, though. In general, oil-based stains take longer to dry, and an extended curing process is far from ideal during the winter.

Staining Wood During Cold Weather

Staining your wood fence is a well-known recommendation. Staining your wood fence during the cold, winter months is not.

Applying a coat of stain during chilly conditions is a risk. Are you willing to gamble with a potentially disastrous outcome?

Before you begin, talk with one of our wholesale lumber specialists. We want to see you achieve beautiful results, and with our knowledge and expertise, we can help you determine the best plan moving forward.