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6 Tips for Staining Your Portland Fence Installation

Deck StainPortland is a tricky city for wood fences. On the one hand, we love our cedar fence materials, which are natural, biodegradable and native to the area. On the other hand, we dislike polluting the environment with the commercial cleaners and harsh chemical stands required to protect cedar fencing from the local weather.

When it comes to building and maintaining a wood fence, Portland Oregon homeowners often struggle to strike a balance between concern for the environment and the need to protect their cedar fence materials from the Northwest’s unique combination of summer sun and copious rain. Choosing the right fence stain, and properly applying it, can often mean the difference between a healthy wood fence and one that rots or deteriorates quickly in Portland’s wet weather.

When staining a new fence installation, Portland homeowners should keep the following practices in mind:

1. Let it dry before staining.

With any new fence installation, Portland homeowners should make staining a top priority in order to minimize weather damage to the cedar fence materials. However, jumping the gun can result in an improperly applied stain that doesn’t offer full protection. In order for the stain to penetrate properly, the wood must be allowed to dry for at least a few days in warm, sunny weather. This is true for new fences, whose wood still holds moisture, as well as fences that have been recently washed or soaked with rain.

2. Apply during dry, cloudy weather.

Finding a decent stretch of dry weather in Portland can be challenging, but the good news is that cloudy skies – of which we see an abundance – are ideal for staining a fence. Too much sun can have an adverse effect while the stain is drying, whereas a cloud cover allows the stain to penetrate thoroughly before drying.

3. Prep cedar fence materials with a wood brightener.

In a city as rainy as Portland, it’s especially important that the stain fully penetrates the wood, forming a water-repellant seal. Before staining a fence installation, Portland do-it-yourselfers may want to consider applying a wood brightener to prepare the fence for staining. Wood brighteners typically contain oxalic acid, which removes rust and tannin stains from fallen leaves – a common problem in tree-riddled Portland – and opens up the pores of the wood to allow the stain to penetrate more deeply. Even a new fence can benefit from the use of a wood brightener. On the downside, oxalic acid is a harsh chemical that doesn’t mesh well with Portland’s eco-friendly values; however, the use of a wood brightener can ultimately extend the life of your fence stain and reduce the overall number of applications needed.

4. Choose a natural oil-based stain.

When choosing a stain a wood fence, Portland Oregon homeowners often want to know which types of stains are least harmful to the environment. While water-based stains are the most eco-friendly, they don’t absorb into the cedar fence materials as well as other types and will need to be reapplied more often. Natural oil-based stains provide a better balance between effectiveness and environmental concerns. Avoid synthetic or petroleum-based products, as these are the least Earth-friendly.

Another consideration in choosing a fence stain is the amount of coverage it provides. Stains generally come in three categories: clear, semi-transparent and solid. While a solid stain offers maximum protection from the sun, it will mask the natural appearance of your cedar fence materials and won’t last as long as the other types. A semi-transparent stain offers adequate UV protection from the Portland sun while rating highest for durability.

A careful stain job is the best step you can take to extend the life of a wood fence installation. Portland weather can be hard on cedar fence materials, but a high-quality stain goes a long way toward prolonging the life – and improving the appearance – of a wood fence.

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