4 Tips for Staining Exterior Wood Like a Pro

Here are four essential tips for getting your exterior stain job right the first time, straight from the Advance Painting repository of must do's.

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1. APPLY A CLEANING/BLEACHING AGENT TO YOUR SURFACE

We can usually determine if a cleaning agent is required by the level of gray-ness of the wood components. Paint stores and hardware stores carry several brands of wood cleaners, so you can pick one that fits your needs.

Wet your surface, then pre-spray as needed with your cleaning/bleaching agent. You can agitate the cleaner into the wood if desired with a semi-stiff brush.

2. THOROUGHLY POWER WASH YOUR WOOD SURFACE

Before the wood dries out, power wash the surface. This is the best way to remove dirt, old dried stain, mildew, and angry insects from your wood surfaces.

You will see the color changing as the old color and dead wood fibers rinse out of the surface. You can wash sections at a time, or a whole run of fencing at once if you don’t use a cleaning/bleaching agent.

Once the cleaning task is completed, wait at least 24 hours for the wood to dry.

3. PREP YOUR PROJECT AREA

Cover the ground surfaces underneath the area you plan to stain.  Plastic sheeting, drop cloths, and cardboard are good tools to protect the ground from your stain, and will keep your brush or roller from picking up dirt and transferring it to your wood.

4. APPLY YOUR STAIN WITHOUT STOPPING

With the stain poured off into a useable-sized container (a 2 gallon bucket is perfect for this job), begin by staining one board at a time. You can apply stain with a brush, roller, or spray system such as an HVLP gun. 

Working with the grain is essential; if you go across the grain you will get an uneven appearance when everything dries.

Also, stain is not like paint, where you can ‘cut in’ the edges and then roll out the inside area. It is important that you complete a board, top to bottom, before moving to the next board.  

Or in the case of a door or window, complete a component end to end before moving on to the next surface area.

If you stop your progress, you will find that the stain is difficult to blend in.  

There is a fix, however, if you find yourself in this predicament.

Re-apply the stain where the color is lighter, and apply less and less pressure with your brush as you near the ‘line’ where you can see the stain edge.  With a little finesse, you can blend in the stain until it is virtually unnoticeable. 

One coat of exterior stain is almost always all that is necessary.  The finished product will have an evenly uneven look to it, which will develop into a nice patina over time.  A well-stained fence will make for good neighbors, and some very good looking landscaping!


Do you have a painting project you'd like to get in touch with us about?
Contact us for a free quote at steve@advancepainting.com