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How to Stain and Refinish Your Wood Fence

Ready Seal® Natural Cedar Wood Fence StainA wooden fence offers an attractive border around your backyard while keeping it secure. However, natural wooden fences require ongoing maintenance and upkeep to keep them looking beautiful. Over time, exposure to rain, hail, snow, and extreme heat can cause a wooden fence to deteriorate and become unattractive. Additionally, dirt and mildew can begin to form which causes the wood to turn an unsightly gray color. Follow these steps to refinish your wood fence.

What to know before you begin:

• FOR YOUR SAFETY: When staining your wood fence, always wear goggles and gloves to keep chemicals, stains, and dirt away from your skin and eyes.

• Never try to refinish your wooden fence if there is rain in the forecast for your general area because stain needs time to dry and seal properly.

Choosing a stain and sealant:

• If you live in a wet or humid climate, you may want to buy a wooden fence stain with a quick application to avoid bubbles in the finish. Acrylic resin-based stains are good for longevity, so try and find a quick application version if you can.

• Make sure your wood stain has ultra violet protection to protect the wood from sun and water damage

• Sealant is another important additive that will make your fence last longer. The natural oils and fibers in the wood are leeched out by the sun’s rays unless the proper sealant is applied.

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, follow these steps for refinishing:

Cedar Split Rail Fence Refinished with Light Oak Stain1. Use a pressure washer to remove the outermost layer of wood. Dirt and mildew build up on the fence over time, which can rot the structure if left untreated, and eventually cause structural problems. If you haven’t refinished your wooden fence in many years, then you may need to add chemical compounds to thoroughly remove the dirt and mildew. For the worst cases, you can use a sand blaster, but this should be a last resort. Reducing the width of the fence by sandblasting can lead to weakness and collapse. Also, be careful to sandblast the wood fence evenly so that it does not become top-heavy and more susceptible to wind damage. Without sandblasting, the old wood stain is nearly impossible to remove.

2. After cleaning the fence, make sure the wood has ample time to dry. If you stain your fence before the moisture evaporates from the wood, then the aging process will increase drastically. The extra moisture on the wood promotes the growth of mold and mildew while stymieing the absorption of the protective stain.

3. Inspect the fence for splintered or broken fence posts. You can use wood glue and corrosion resistant screws and nails to repair fence posts before staining. For parts that are too worn to patch with wood glue, remove the damaged panel and take it to your local wood supplier to get a replacement. Changing rotted or broken wood panels on your fence will help maintain its firm structure and beauty.

Ready Seal® Dark Walnut Fence Stain on Cedar Fence4. After fixing the splinters and broken sections, it’s time to prepare for staining. Cover the ground at the base of the fence with a tarp. This will prevent the chemicals from potentially killing the organic materials nearby. Also, place painter’s tape over the fence’s hardware and accents to avoid exposure to the stain. The stain should only touch the wooden fence panels.

5. Use a manual paint roller to apply the stain. Try to apply an even coat along the entire fence and maintain a perfectly vertical stroke if you can. Take your time! For the nooks and crannies, use a small paintbrush so you can protect every part of the fence. Missing a section could result in extreme decay. Failing to evenly coat the wood fence with stain may result in a multi-colored fence. Portions that are over-stained will be darker in color and give your fence an unappealing look. More importantly, the under-stained portions of the fence will be more susceptible to future damage and will require additional refinishing sooner than others.

Learning how to refinish a wood fence is not a difficult task, but it takes hard work and diligence. Nonetheless, refinishing your wood fence on a regular basis will keep it looking beautiful, so it’s worth it!

This post was written by Dave C. from refinishingfurniture.net. Dave enjoys painting and refinishing and is always looking for ways to save a buck.

Looking to buy a new fence instead? Check out our Fences Buyers’ Guide for a list of reputable fence manufacturers and companies.

Photos courtesy of Ready Seal, Inc.

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DIY: Homeowners Extend Patio with Eco-Friendly Pavers

Homeowners: David and Elisa
Location: Castro Valley, Calif.
: Extend outdoor living space by adding a deck to existing concrete patio and resurfacing entire area with VAST® Composite Resurfacing Pavers
: $2,000

  New Backyard Patio and Deck with Vast Composite Resurfacing Pavers

Before                                                                                       After


How they did it:

David first planned and built the framework for the new deck. He designed it so that the deck brings the home’s outdoor living area beyond the existing concrete patio and out to the hot tub. To create a cohesive look between the concrete patio and new deck, the couple decided to refinish the area (360 square feet) with the VAST® Composite Resurfacing Paver System they had seen at a home and garden show. “These pavers are low-profile so they could go on top of the old patio(no clearance problems). We could use them on the deck, too, for the unified look we wanted,” says Elisa. The pavers, which are made from 95 percent recycled materials, offer the look of brick pavers and are designed to cover old patios and decks for an easy renovation project.

Homeowner Installing Vast Composite Resurfacing Pavers in herringbone pattern

To install the composite paver system, David first laid down the installation grids over the patio and deck frame. He started from the edge of the concrete patio and worked his way out to the new deck. He used glue to secure the grid sections to the concrete patio. On the new deck, David fastened rows of the grids to the decking boards with 1 1/2- inch decking screws.” He then laid pavers (4 x 8 x 1.75 inches) in a herringbone pattern, alternating among three different colors of pavers for a stylish effect. David did not have to rent a concrete saw. To cut grid sections and pavers to shape and size for the edges and corners of the installation, he used just a regular 10-inch miter saw.  

“I liked that VAST’s installation grids make it easier to get good results,” says David. “You lay out the grid, insert the pavers, and the grid does the work of spacing and aligning them.” To finish the design, he used pavers of the same color in a basketweave pattern to create an attractive border.

“We could not have afforded to tear out the concrete part and build [an] all new [patio],” says Elisa.  “In the end, we got a beautiful patio with a green product that’s easy to install and maintain.”

Backyard Hot Tub Deck with Vast Composite Resurfacing Pavers

About VAST®

VAST® Composite Resurfacing Pavers are manufactured by VAST Enterprises, LLC (www.vastpavers.com), a materials science research and manufacturing company in Minneapolis, Minn. VAST composite masonry products are a patented blend of post-consumer recycled automobile tires and plastic containers. Since its founding in 2006, VAST has used more than five million pounds of recycled rubber and plastics to create their array of top quality products.

Photos courtesy of Vast Enterprises, LLC

Homeowners Design a Perfect Backyard Retreat


Johnston pool hot tub backyard
Homeowners Duane and Lisa Johnston of Anmore, British Columbia, Canada, wanted to create a backyard haven to enjoy with their two children. They designed, planned, and completed much of the work themselves, along with the help of a great team of people. The result? Not only did they get a summer oasis where their family can enjoy daily dips in the pool, but also a hot tub and outdoor kitchen they can use year-round.


We spoke with homeowner Lisa Johnston to learn how their amazing backyard project was completed.



Why did you want a pool, hot tub, and outdoor kitchen?


Since purchasing our home in February 2005, it was always our dream that 5 or 6 years down the road, when the children were older, we’d look into putting in an inground pool. Because our home sits on an acre, we’re fortunate to be able to incorporate a pool/spa/entertaining area while still having plenty of open lawn where the children can run and play. We look forward to our boys using this space as a hub where they can hang out with their friends as they get older. My husband and I also love entertaining.

Johnston pool deck jets bar
What materials were used for this project?


The concrete decking surrounding the pool was part of the original plan. We knew we wanted something plain (not too busy), and that the concrete had to come right to the edge of the pool in a cantilevered style. The outdoor kitchen countertop is granite, and the outside stone is West Coast ledger stone. The inside of the kitchen and backsplash is finished with slate tiles. 

What was your budget for this project?


The total planned budget was $150,000, and we went about $10,000 over. The costs were $50,000 for the pool, $50,000 for the outdoor kitchen, $30,000 for the concrete decking, $25,000 for landscaping, and $5,000 for the hot tub.


How long did the project take?

The entire project took about 9 months. The pool/hot tub were completed and ready for use by the end of June 2011.

Johnston pool constructionLead us through the planning/construction process.

Duane and I had a vision of what we wanted for the backyard and planned out the design. John Port at Parkview Landscaping, Ltd., truly captured our vision, added to it, and made the final look better than we could have imagined.  

The pool was dug in October 2010 and left to settle over the winter. There were a number of issues with the original pool contractor, so in February 2011 he was let go. Duane then took on much of the labor himself and hired separate contractors to assist in finishing the pool. Pedron Contracting, Ltd. poured the concrete for the pool bottom and surrounding deck. We marked out a diamond pattern in the decking and hired a company to cut it.

Johnston pool deck lounge area
Duane prepped the inside of the pool after the concrete was poured and installed all the plumbing and equipment in the pool house as well. He also taped the joints, hung the pool liner, and installed pool lights, valves, drain covers, an auto-fill, diving board, and even the deck jets, which are fun water features that shoot arcs of water over the pool.


Bentley Power Solutions completed the bonding of the pool and all electrical for the pool, equipment room, hot tub, outdoor kitchen, and outdoor lighting. Arjay Mechanical installed the gas lines for the pool, outdoor heater, barbecue, and built-in firepit. 

How was the fire feature installed?

The firepit was purchased as a unit; it has lava rocks on the bottom, ceramic logs, and is gas fed (so we can turn it on/off with a single switch). We advised our landscaper of the preferred placement, hired the gas fitter to bring a line to it, and had the landscaper design the retaining wall around it. It’s a great feature to use at night.


Johnston grill outdoor kitchen poolWhat’s included in your outdoor kitchen?

We purchased all the appliances first, and then contracted Dreamline Construction to construct the kitchen around them. The kitchen has a microwave, double gas burner, gas grill/smoker/rotisserie, deep fryer, beverage station, mini-fridge and ice maker, sink, dishwasher, overhead gas heater, and plenty of storage and counter space complete with a 55-inch weatherproof TV.


We already had a popcorn and slurpee machine, but added a hot dog hut to complete the ensemble. These three items, along with the deep fryer, were by far the favorites amongst not only our children, but all our guests throughout the summer. We used them on a daily basis. Having the raised bar area and bar stools makes this a great place to hang out and converse
with the cook.
Johnston outdoor kitchen overlooking pool

How often do you use the pool and other features?


We swam in the pool almost every day during the summer. The pool is now closed for the winter, but we’ll continue to use the hot tub year-round. The hot tub is separate from the pool so we’re able to keep it heated with the cover on, removing it only when in use. It’s also close proximity to the house, which we’ll appreciate during chilly whether.


The outdoor kitchen is completely shaded by the balcony above, so we can be cooking outdoors rain or shine. We plan to use the kitchen year-round.


John Port of Parkview Landscaping, Ltd., designed and completed the landscaping based on the Johnstons’ vision.

Pedron Contracting, Ltd., poured the pool bottom and concrete decking.

Bentley Power Solutions installed all the electrical.

Arjay Mechanical installed all gas lines.

Midland Appliances Ltd., supplied appliances for the kitchen.

The pool liner was purchased through Ideal Distributors in Surrey, BC. Two of their employees, Karsten Petersen and Sara Stanbury helped Duane gather the miscellaneous supplies necessary for him to hook up the pool and the deck jets. Ideal also supplied the salt and chemicals for start-up of the pool.

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