Cedar Fence: Stains, Paints, and Finishes to Consider

by | May 25, 2023 | Cedar Fencing

Customizing Your Cedar Fence

So you hired some expert fence builders to install a beautiful new Cedar fence? Now what? Well like all things in life over time that beautiful color will begin to bleach in the sun leaving you with a gray patina. What’s the solution? Painting or staining your new fence will not only give it a beautiful color over the years but it will also extend the lifetime of your fence.

Where to Start

Close-up view of a finely crafted cedar fence, showcasing its natural grain and warm tones.The first thing to consider is the finish of your fence. Cedar fencing can come in either rough-sawn or smooth. It is important to note that even “smooth sawn” is not a sanded product and will not be totally smooth to the touch. Smooth-sawn will have far fewer excess fibers hanging off the surface. Rough-sawn is usually a bit cheaper but it will require more stain to completely cover the wood. At Draper Fencing Company we use smooth-sawn Cedar to give your new fence the most finished look possible. You can see the difference here:

As we have discussed before, stain or paint is going to give your fence a protective layer that will not add color and lifetime to your fence. If you have decided to paint or stain the next thing to consider is oil vs water-based paints and stains. We recommend oil-based stains for a variety of reasons including:

  1. Oil-based stains will mimic Cedar’s natural oils much better than water-based
  2. You can add additional coats to oil-based stains without stripping the older coat
  3. Oil-based stains must be applied with lower moisture levels in the wood but this ensures you will not seal in any moisture into the lumber
  4. The only downside to oil-based stains is that they will show the lumber grains etc a bit more. We love this look but if you’re staining an older fence it could be a con.

Make sure you read the directions on the stain you choose. They can vary widely on temperatures etc. As with all products, it’s best to choose the highest quality you can afford.

Richly-colored cedar fencing bordering a picturesque backyardThe timeframe is very important when it comes to staining or painting your cedar fence. The right time to stain or paint is crucial and varies depending on a variety of factors. It all comes down to moisture levels in the wood. At Draper Fencing Company we use only premium-grade Cedar which, by and large, comes to us already pretty dry. If you are using Pressure Treated Pine you may buy it with as much as 45% moisture content. If you want to be completely sure about the moisture content of the lumber simply buy a moisture meter. Do not apply stain or paint when your wood has a greater than 15% moisture level. You can also put a couple of droplets of water onto the lumber. If it immediately absorbs in you are more than likely good to go. Regardless of your testing, ensure you do not wait too long to stain or paint. Once the wood is dried out it is best to stain or paint immediately. 

If you have ever painted a room in your home you know how streaky paint can get. Staining or painting a fence is no different. You want to use long strokes with either your brush or sprayer. We always recommend spraying and then going over it with a brush. Make sure you do the prep work before beginning the staining or painting. By masking areas close to your house you will avoid getting any unwanted paint or stain on surrounding areas.

While we do not offer painting and staining services ourselves we know fencing and are always happy to answer any questions!


Pete Cowden

Pete Cowden

Director of Sales and Operations

Pete Cowden grew up on the west side of Indianapolis. He attended St Michael’s School from kindergarten through eighth grade before going to North Central High School. Pete won a state championship in Rugby and graduated with an Indiana Honors diploma from North Central in 2007.

After graduating high school, Pete joined the Army. He served three tours of duty as a US Army Ranger. Eventually his injuries built up leading to a medical retirement. After retiring from the Army, Pete attended Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis. In 2015 Pete graduated with a Bachelor’s of the Arts in International Studies. 

Pete spent some time working with his fellow veterans in Washington D.C as well as right here in Indianapolis before moving into the fencing industry. Pete began working for Draper Fencing Company in 2021. 

Initially Pete worked primarily as an estimator. He learned quickly the challenges fence installers face and how to overcome them. He constantly gathered feedback from his crews to ensure he was setting them and the customer up for success. 

Pete now manages the entire company. He has managed the building of millions of dollars of fencing projects from small downtown yards to large commercial projects. Draper Fencing Company installs a wide range of products from commercial chain link to ornate custom cedar fences. Pete leads a production department that has over forty five years of fence building experience.

A big part of managing the company is making sure he understands not just how to build a fence but knowing what customers want. He stays up to date on permitting and code enforcement. Part of his job now is to put his years of experience into writing blogs on our website. We strive to communicate clearly and effectively with our customers and our blog posts are an extension of that.