a lineup of brushes vying to be the the best brush to stain a fence

Best Brush for Staining a Fence

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Matt Stone

If you are going to stain a fence you will need a brush at some point. Choosing the best brush for staining a fence is a good way to get your project started off right. But, there are so many options to choose from. You must consider the shape size and material of the brush. Then you have to decide which company makes the best one for you.

As a professional fence stainer I have used many different brushes over the years. Since I use a brush on almost every stain job I do, it is important for me to have a good one.

I have narrowed down a list of the best paintbrushes to use for staining a fence below. Make sure to read the entire list because you will likely need more than one brush to get the job done right.

Our Top Picks

purdy clearcut elite cut in brush
Best for Cut In


Clearcut Elite

Best Overall



Best Large Brush



Best Natural Bristle


White China

Best For Back Brushing


Deck Stainer

How We Test Our Brushes

I have been working in the painting trade for over 10 years. During that time, I have used many different brushes from all different companies. I have used my personal experience to make the selections for this review.

Best Overall Brush for Staining a Fence

I chose the Purdy XL for the best overall brush because of its versatility. If you only have the budget for one brush, this one would be an option for you. It is large enough that you could reasonably use it to back brush. It is also small enough that you can use it to cut in without it being unwieldy. 

Purdy is an excellent brand that makes very high quality paintbrushes. This one should be durable enough to take the rough surface of fence wood.

Best Large Brush 

Staining a fence means that you will be applying the paint to a large area. While it is unlikely that you will do a very large fence with a paintbrush, even doing a few panels worth can seem like a lot. Using a large brush will allow you to cover a lot of wood with stain in a shorter period of time.

Larger brushes can be harder to work with because of their size and weight. The Wooster Bravo Stainer comes with a sturdy wooden handle so you can easily maneuver the brush as you work. I trust the wooster brand to make good quality products.

Best Brush for Cut In

When staining a fence, you will likely have areas where you need to cut in. This could include small gaps between the boards or other tight spaces where the bigger brushes can’t fit. Also, if your fence connects to your house or another structure, you will need to stain the edge of the fence without getting any on your home.

A good cut in brush will have an angled shape. This shape is called a sash brush. Also, a smaller brush will allow you to get into tight spaces. We chose the Purdy Clearcut Elite because it checks all those boxes. As the name implies, it was created to be a great cut in brush.

Best Natural Bristle Brush

Natural bristles are often used with oil-based products. If you are using an oil-based fence stain you might consider this natural brush from Purdy. It uses natural China hog hair for the bristles. This material will do a great job of laying down an even coat of stain and will not leave behind any brush marks.

Best For Back Brushing

Bachbrushing is a technique used when you are spraying an oil-based penetrating product on a wooden fence. By running a brush over the surface of the wood after the stain has been sprayed you will help push the stain down into the wood fibers and reduce any unevenness in the coat.

You will want a large brush like the Precision Deck Stain Brush to cover a large area. I like that this brush comes with threads so you can attach an extension pole. This should save your back from having to bend over as you are back brushing your fence.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Fence Stain Brush


Choosing the right size will help your stain job go more smoothly. In short, a larger brush will apply more product at a time and make the job go faster. A smaller brush will apply less product but will be much easier to handle.

You may consider buying both a small and a large brush. That way you will be able to handle every situation. The large brush can be used for bigger, open areas so you can move quickly. The smaller brush would then get into all the small spaces and can be used to cut in where needed.

For a cut in brush I recommend using a 2 to 3 inch size. For a larger production brush I recommend 6 inches.


Brushes come in two basic shapes: angled and square. 

Angled brushes (also called a sash brush) make it easier to get into tight spaces.

Square brushes make it easier to get an even coat onto a large area.


Paintbrushes come with bristles made out of many different materials. The main distinction is between natural and synthetic.

A natural bristle brush will be made from animal hair. They often pair well with oil-based stain products. They are not generally recommended for water-based ones.

These are often among the softest bristle materials. This has both a good side and a down side. The softer material will be less likely to leave brush marks in the finish. On the other hand, natural bristles are not as durable as synthetic.

Ox hair and china bristles are common materials for making brush bristles. Ox hair is known for being very soft but also delicate. The wood used in fence construction is often pretty rough and can tear up an ox hair brush. That is why we recommended the china bristle brush above. It is more durable than ox hair.

There are many types of synthetic bristle brushes giving you a lot of variety. You can find one appropriate for any type of coating you are applying and in any size. The really high-end brushes can often be expensive.

Additional Products

In addition to choosing a paintbrush, you will likely need a couple of extra things to complete your stain project. You will need a paint can to transport the stain as you work. Also, a good pair of gloves will keep stain from getting on your hands.


Choosing a paintbrush for your next painting project does not have to be difficult once you consider the factors above. For the most versatility, I would recommend getting two brushes.

  1. A small angled brush for cut in and small spaces
  2. A large brush for covering big areas.
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Author: Matt Stone
Matt has worked as a professional painter for over 10 years. This includes much experience with all types of wood stains. He loves to write about wood stains to help others make good choices to protect their homes and make them beautiful.