an image of a child painting a fence

Fence Stain vs Paint: Which Is Better?

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Matt Stone

Cedar is a natural wood choice for fences because it naturally resists rotting and insects. But, does this mean that it shouldn’t be stained or sealed?

Every cedar fence should be treated with a high-quality fence stain. Staining the fence will make it last longer. While cedar has its own natural resistance to decay from the elements, it will only be improved by staining and sealing.

There are several reasons for this recommendation. Stain will enhance cedar’s natural ability to resist rotting, making it last even longer than an untreated fence. A fence stain will also stabilize the color of the wood, keeping it from turning to the weathered gray that you see on unstained fences.

Fence Stain Will Make Your Cedar Fence Last Longer

Cedar wood is rich in natural oils that inhibit fungal growth and repel insects. Over time, this oil will eventually lose its effectiveness and even cedar will begin to rot. The oil in oil-based fence stains replenishes the wood and provides protection against rotting. Fence stain oil also has several other benefits.

Moisture is one of the key ingredients for breaking down exterior wood. When wood is wet, mold and fungi can flourish. They consume the wood and cause the fence to rot. The oil in fence stain repels water from entering the wood. Since the water cannot enter the wood, fungi can’t grow and the boards are protected from rotting.

a picture of stained cedar boards with water beading up on them.
As we all learned in school, oil and water don’t mix.

Fence Stain Makes Cedar Fences Look Exquisite

Cedar is well known for looking good when stained. It is a porous wood which means it will readily absorb large amounts of stain. This gives it a very rich and vibrant appearance. Without treatment though, a cedar fence will turn to an unattractive gray color just like any other wood. 

Keeping a cedar fence stained will keep it from turning gray. You can choose the color you want your fence to be. By applying a fresh coat of stain every three or four years, you will keep the fence looking great for decades.

image of a cedar fence with a brown stain


A high-quality oil-based fence stain will protect a cedar fence from

  • Moisture damage
  • Insects
  • UV Rays
  • Rotting
  • Turning gray

Even though Cedar can naturally resist some of these threats, staining it will enhance it’s protection and keep it looking great. If you would like more information, read our article on the pros and cons of fence staining.

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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.

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