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New fence - spray or brush on stain sealant?

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Forum topic by january posted 10-05-2016 09:12 PM 608 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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january

23 posts in 1054 days


10-05-2016 09:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cedar fence outdoor spray brush

Hi guys, I just had this new cedar fence installed.

The fence installer said to spray on the finish, but a pro carpenter friend and a DIYer friend who have both finished fences before both said to brush it on. We will be using one of these two UV deck and fence formulas from Timber Pro Coatings.

Obviously the lazy part of me wants to spray, but I’ve heard that brushing is better. I’m probably going to give the manufacturer a call, too, but I’d love to hear everyone’s advice!

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"


14 replies so far

View jbay's profile

jbay

807 posts in 359 days


#1 posted 10-05-2016 09:27 PM

I’m lazy, I would spray it kind of heavy, then recoat it in 6 months. Then plan on doing it once a year.

-- My “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly be wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct -- (A1Jim)

View whiteshoecovers's profile

whiteshoecovers

41 posts in 544 days


#2 posted 10-05-2016 09:36 PM

If it’s cedar it doesn’t need any type of protecting finish. By adding one you are just asking for the pain of having to re-apply it every few years. I am sure you know, that after time, cedar will weather to a nice silver patina all on its own, and again, any finish you apply won’t do a thing to extend the life of your fence a single day.

About a year ago I built a cedar fence (all mortise and tenon joinery) and sprayed on a solution of apple cider vinegar that I had let a couple pads of steel wool dissolve in for a few weeks. I think it’s forming something like iron acetate that reacts with the oils in the wood to give it that natural gray silver patina years ahead of just waiting for the elements to do it. It’s been a year and has faded a little to a very natural looking finish. I highly recommend this route.

And by spray, I just mean you fill up a pump garden sprayer with the solution and go to town. You just need to get the wood wet, so being careful with a brush or sprayer doesn’t buy you anything.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

686 posts in 847 days


#3 posted 10-05-2016 09:54 PM

I say spray and back brush. In other words, immediately after spraying a section use the brush to get it into nooks and crannies and work it into the surface. That doesn’t take that long since most of the work is done by the spraying. The semi-transparent and opaque stains that provide the most UV protection definitely benefit from this technique. The lighter transparent oil finishes not as much.

BTW, My understanding is that on a new cedar fence, you should wait for the wood to weather and age a little before applying the stain. It will take the stain better and the stain will last longer.

I personally think that the semi-transparent stains do help some in keeping the fence looking better longer based upon my experience. My first fence had no finish on it and was toast in less than 10 years. My neighbor stained his fence that was built by the same company at about the same time after about 5 or 6 years and most of it is still standing 25 years later. My current fence is over 15 and still looks pretty good and it will definitely last another 5-10 more and the finish, while a little weathered, still looks okay.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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pintodeluxe

4852 posts in 2273 days


#4 posted 10-05-2016 09:59 PM

Spray it. With the proper tip size you will actually use less stain compared to brushing and dripping everywhere. Covering uneven fence surfaces is so much easier with spray equipment. I use an airless sprayer, and stained a fence 6-7 years ago with Behr premium opaque fence stain and it looks like new.

If some people need to re-coat every year, maybe they used a clear sealer like Thompsons. The opaque stains last much longer.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ArtMann's profile

ArtMann

131 posts in 276 days


#5 posted 10-05-2016 11:58 PM

The whole outside of my house is Western Cedar. I brushed and rolled the stain one time about 30 years ago and that was enough for one lifetime. I have re-stained it twice since then with an airless sprayer and I can’t tell any difference in the result other than brushing and rolling is maybe 5 times as much work. I re-stain about once every 10 years and the house doesn’t ever look shabby.

View january's profile

january

23 posts in 1054 days


#6 posted 10-07-2016 01:21 PM

Thanks for the advice guys. I love LumberJocks. Sprayer it is then. Any favorite sprayers you’d like to recommend? Maybe I can foray this into a tool purchase. ;-)

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

686 posts in 847 days


#7 posted 10-07-2016 01:45 PM

I’ve used both a pump up sprayer and a Wagner airless sprayer. Both worked very well and are affordable. Opaque and semi-transparent stains might be a little thick for the pump up but is a cheap way to go. Only complaints I have about the Wagner is that they can only hold about a pint and a half of paint at a time so, because they are so efficient, you spend almost as much time refilling as spraying, though this is a good point to inspect and back brush if needed. They are also very loud so wear ear protection. Some of the Wagners do have the ability to draw straight from a 5 gallon can, though I have not tried that. I haven’t tried the HVLP sprayers yet but I bought one on sale last year for $25 because I have heard they work very well.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2098 days


#8 posted 10-07-2016 02:05 PM

Interesting discussion as I am planning a fence also.

Different people clearly have different expectations for outdoor wood projects.

My memory of old barns and sheds on my grandparents old farm influences me a lot. That’s the look I want. Those were built, as I understand, out of green hardwood and never finished with anything – and lasted 50+ years in Alabama conditions. I don’t remember any mold or mildew, but it may be that the North sides which don’t see the direct sun were mildewed. To my eye, they were just grey.

So, I’m planning a green oak fence hung on (eastern red) cedar posts. I realize that fences differ from barns and sheds in that the joints (where the board goes against the rails) of barns and sheds are protected from the weather, while the fence is exposed on both sides. My understanding is that fungus is the main cause of decay and fungus starts in the joints where water gets between the two parts. Not much you can do about that on a fence.

From what I’ve read, the main issue here is that green oak boards put up on a fence dry much faster than is ideal for oak and will check heavily. To reduce that, some people spray an oil finish on both sides immediately after hanging the fence boards just to slow down drying. No need to refinish annually. It’s only purpose is to slow down the initial drying. Also, they put one fastener (nail or screw) per rail in each board, on one side of the center-line, then come back in a month after the boards have shrunk and add a second fastener. Since I’ve never done this and don’t personally know anybody who has done it, I suppose it’s an experiment for me.

I apologize to the OP for hijacking the thread, but if anybody has any comments on this approach with green oak, I’d appreciate it.

-Paul

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1108 posts in 2404 days


#9 posted 10-07-2016 03:58 PM

My friend owned five cedar mills in the Pacific Northwest. Naturally, his house had both cedar siding (spit and sawn shakes).

I, frequently, pointed out he needed to oil the cedar, because, once cut, it continues to dry, which causes it to shrink and split or crack, and to become brittle.

Each time I advised my friend, his response, was, cedar doesn’t need to be treated, because it has natural protections against the elements. However, some years after I moved to the east side of the state, he called and asked what he needed to do to keep the cedar on his roof from needing replacement. My response was, “[i]t’s too
late.” It was.

Had he just added NON-HARDENING oils to the roof and siding, it would have built up over time. Each coat would soak in, rather than evaporate. The oil would replace lost moisture and keep the cedar from splitting and cracking, if he were aggressive with his applications.

Rather than evaporate, the oil wicks cell to cell. As such, a first application or two may disappear soon after application, but, as more coats are added, it will build.

In addition to not cracking, the wood remains resilient, when significantly saturated with oil. As such, you could even walk on a cedar roof in the dead of a hot summer, because the wood would bend, rather than break.

When I had big fence jobs, I used my airless. If the fence was only a hundred feet or so, I just used a pump up garden sprayer. I could do the entire fence in an hour.

To spray with a garden sprayer, I had to thin the oil at least fifteen percent.

Using a brush to apply oil gains nothing, other than avoiding over-spray. The main reason people like brushes is for surface coat finishes. The brush pushes the finish in and you will actually see a difference between a back-brushed [or rolled] finish next to one which was only sprayed. That does not apply to non-hardening oil applications, since the oil wicks.

A little old lady thought I walked on water, because her fence looked so nice, compared to all her neighbors with gray, sprinkler marked fences, or the ones with the failing surface coat finishes that hold the water in, after they’ve dried and cracked with wood movement.

Keep in mind, your finish is only going on one side of the fence. The other is going to take on moisture all along, including from hits from sprinklers. If the boards become saturated, all the claims of how wonderful a hardening oil finish, or other hardening finish, are BS. The moisture is going to pop the finish on the other side, just like it would the paint on your house siding.

Sometimes, old technology is better. For that, ANY, including used (okay, some will hate that because of the metals in used oil and the chance kids are going to be licking the fence all the time) or the cheapest K-Mart or equivalent non hardening oil will do.

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1108 posts in 2404 days


#10 posted 10-07-2016 04:06 PM

Why settle for fifty when you can have a hundred, or more? Wood dies from rot, UV decay or abrasion. Stop the rot and splitting, even much of the UV decay, by using non-hardening oil on the wood, as it dries


Interesting discussion as I am planning a fence also.

Different people clearly have different expectations for outdoor wood projects.

My memory of old barns and sheds on my grandparents old farm influences me a lot. That s the look I want. Those were built, as I understand, out of green hardwood and never finished with anything – and lasted 50+ years in Alabama conditions.
-Paul

- Ocelot


View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4448 posts in 3420 days


#11 posted 10-07-2016 05:08 PM

You’re wasting your time. Leave it alone in less ya wanna do it every year.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View january's profile

january

23 posts in 1054 days


#12 posted 10-07-2016 11:38 PM

Thanks for the input everyone!

The fence is pretty extensive so I think the pump-up garden sprayer might be out of the question. I don’t own an air compressor, though I’m not opposed to purchasing one (it’s certainly not the first time I wish I had one). I do like the idea of feeding directly out of the 5 gallon buckets, as that’s what we’re gonna have.

So based on all that I think I narrowed it down to these two options:

Either purchasing this one:
https://amazon.com/Wagner-0529029-Flexio-Direct-Sprayer/dp/B00W77BEO0/

Or renting this one:
http://www6.homedepot.com/tool-truck-rental/Medium_Duty_Paint_Sprayer/262906/index.html

What do you think?

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1108 posts in 2404 days


#13 posted 10-09-2016 01:45 PM

No so with non-hardening oil. You can keep adding or ignore it. It’s not a surface coat, so you’ll never have to strip it. It won’t otherwise require attention. If you stop, the wood just goes its natural course of drying, thus shrinking, cracking and splitting.


You re wasting your time. Leave it alone in less ya wanna do it every year.
Bill

- Bill White


View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1108 posts in 2404 days


#14 posted 10-09-2016 01:49 PM

Hard call on which route to go for applying (purchase or rent). The rentals usually run about a hundred bucks a day, so two rentals would pay for the other sprayer.

If the other sprayer would hold up [and you care for it], I’d go that route. The other option is a used, running airless off craigslist. Just remember, the low end Gracos sold at the big box stores cannot be rebuilt.

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