a bunch of the best rollers for staining a fence lined up

Best Roller For Staining a Fence

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Matt Stone

Staining a fence with a roller is a good way to spruce up your backyard. The roller will apply the stain much quicker than a brush, without the overspray of a sprayer.  If you have ever looked at rollers on the paint aisle though, you know there are so many options to choose from.

Choosing the best roller to stain your fence can seem confusing. That is why I created this guide to help you make the best choice. 

I have used many different rollers in my painting business. Each one has its own set of characteristics. Some of these are better for fence staining. Other rollers would be better suited to other tasks.

Keep reading to find the best roller for staining your fence.

Step #1 Choose a Roller Cover

Paint rollers come in two parts. There is the roller cover that actually rolls the stain onto the fence. Then there is the frame which is the handle that holds the cover. First, we will recommend roller covers.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall 9 Inch


Contractor 1st

Best 4 Inch


White Dove Mini

Best Large


Marathon 18 Inch

Step #2 Choose a Roller Frame

Your roller frame needs to be sturdy and well-made. It also needs to fit the size of the roller cover you have chosen. 

Our Top Picks

9 Inch Frame


Surelock Frame

4 Inch Frame



18 Inch Frame



Step #3 Accessories

There are a few things you will need in addition to the roller cover and frame. You will need a tray to use with your roller. Also, you should consider buying an extension pole. This will greatly reduce the strain on your back while you are working. And, it will help you work faster.

Paint Tray

This sturdy plastic paint tray will make your project go smoother. It has a magnetic plate on the end so your brush won’t wall into the stain and make a mess.

It also comes with a carrying handle to make it easier to move.

If you are using an 18-inch roller frame you can use this larger paint tray.

Extension Pole

An extension pole will help save your back from having to bend over every time you want to dip your roller into the tray. You can also reach the top of the fence with ease.

This telescoping pole will make it easy for you to adjust the size to fit what you need.

I like that this pole is made from aluminum. That means you get the strength of metal and it won’t rust.

What to Look For in a Fence Stain Roller

Here is a helpful video that covers the basics of staining a fence with a roller.


Rollers come in several different widths. Some common sizes include 4 inch, 6 inch, 9 inch and 18 inch. The wider the roller, the more area it will cover with each pass. This will allow you to apply the stain faster.

Wide rollers are harder to control. They can get heavy after a while when the cover is saturated with stain. They also, won’t be able to get into smaller spaces. 

Smaller rollers will have the opposite advantages. They will be maneuverable in tight spaces and are light and easy to use. They will take forever to stain large areas though. 

A 9 inch roller is a good middle ground in width. This is the most common width available and it makes sense in most cases.

Nap Thickness

The nap thickness refers to the thickness of the roller cover measured in inches. The thicker the nap, the more stain the roller will be able to absorb. Some common sizes include ½ inch, ⅜ inch, and 1 inch. 

The rougher your working surface the thicker your nap should be. If your fence boards are pretty rough, you should buy a thicker nap roller. On the other hand, if your pickets are very smooth, a thinner roller cover will be best. 

The thicker nap on the roller will help get stain into the small crevices in rough wood. The roller cover will conform to the texture of the wood as you roll over it. Using too small of a nap on rough wood means you will likely see pockets on the wood with no stain as you are rolling. For very rough wood you might go with a one inch roller.

If you try to use a thick nap roller on smooth wood, you might wind up with too much stain running down the boards instead of getting on the fence. For very smooth boards, a half inch roller is a great size.

There are nap sizes larger than one inch but I don’t recommend them for staining fences. Stains, especially oil-based, are thin coatings. If you use them with a really thick roller cover you will likely just wind up with extra stain running down the fence.


Roller Covers can be constructed in two ways.

Woven: a woven frame sheds less while you are using it. These are great for getting a smooth finish on smooth surfaces. They do not leave as much texture behind in water-based coatings.

Knit: A knit material holds more stain than woven ones do. Because even the smoothest fences have some texture to them, I don’t think the advantages of a woven cover make much difference here.

Extension Pole

I like to use an extension pole that is adjustable. They can collapse down for easier storage. When you are ready to use them, you can open them to the length that works best for you.

As with most things, you will want to make sure to get one that is sturdy and high quality.


Your fence stain project will go much smoother if you have a roller that is a good fit for the job. By selecting one that is the right width, thickness and material you will get the best results. Using the wrong roller can waste your time or material on the job.

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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.