How Long to Wait Before Staining a Pressure Treated Wood Fence

Wood that isn’t properly preserved is going to be more susceptible to an insect infestation or rot. Wood that has been pressure treated has endured a process that involves forcing chemical preservatives into it as well as coating the surface. Doing this is believed to extend the quality and longevity of the wood. 

Though it has been treated, there is still a risk of this wood drying out and potentially cracking as it ages, hence why many people choose to stain it too. 

Do you have a pressure-treated wood fence that you want to stain? If so, you may be curious as to how long you need to wait before you can proceed to do so. We have provided you with all of the answers in our guide below. 

Generally, you will need to wait at least 4 weeks before staining your fence, however, this time can increase to several months. Many factors are going to influence how long you will need to wait, from the humidity of the area where you live, the weather and temperature, the type of wood that was used, and how it was treated. 

Regardless of whether you have hired a professional or built the fence yourself, it is likely that you will want to paint or stain it as soon as possible so that it emulates the aesthetic of your outdoor space.

Unfortunately, staining your fence too soon before allowing the correct amount of time to pass may mean that you have to repeat the process, or remove the previous layer and start again. 

What are the different types of pressure-treated wood?

There are two types of pressure-treated wood that are commonly used in the construction of a fence. The wood that you choose will determine how long you will be required to wait before attempting to stain it. 

The first type of wood and the one that takes less time to dry is Kiln pressure-treated lumber. This lumber endures the same treatment as other wood types, but it has been dried in a kiln.

This process effectively removes the moisture from the wood and when exposed to the right temperature and humidity it will be completely dry within 2 to 3 days. Because kiln wood is dried it is protected against fungal degradation.

Furthermore, it is an ideal option for those who do not want to wait for a couple of weeks or months to pass before they can begin the staining process. 

The second option is wet pressure-treated wood. As implied by the name, this type of wood is treated at high pressure. During the process, a lot of preservatives are added to it.

The most noticeable difference between this type of wood and kiln pressure-treated lumber is that this wood has moisture deep in its core. Because of this, it is still wet when it is sold as this moisture needs time to evaporate. 

You should expect to wait approximately 3 weeks before staining this wood, although this time will be significantly longer if you live in a location with a tropical climate. 

Sings that Your Pressure Treated Fence is Dry

There are a few signs that will confirm that your pressure-treated fence is dry and ready to stain. 

Perhaps the easiest way to check whether your wood is dry is to conduct a water test. Simply sprinkle a few drops of water onto the wood’s surface and evaluate how it responds.

If the wood absorbs the water straight away, it is dry and therefore ready to paint. However, if the water droplets form a beaded pattern on the wood’s surface this is a sign that the wood is still too wet and needs more time to dry. 

For more accurate results you may wish to use a wood moisture meter. The meter comes with pins that need to be inserted into the wood, you will then be given a reading regarding the dryness of the wood. From here you can determine whether it is ready to stain. 

What to Do If You Stain Your Wood Too Early

Rushing into the process of staining your wood can lead to consequences, hence why it is recommended that you check it is dry before you proceed to do so. If you have stained your wood using a light color, the problem can be rectified easily.

After applying the stain, give the wood plenty of time to dry out before applying a second layer, this time using a darker shade. 

If you used a darker stain straight away, fixing this issue is a little more challenging although it is still possible. Using either sandpaper or a chemical-based paint stripper remove this layer of stain. Allow the paint to dry and you can then start the process again. 

Remember that the wood will struggle to absorb stain or paint if it is not completely dry. Stain can also become quite an expense if it is purchased regularly, hence why it is recommended that you try and do it correctly from the get-go.

If you are uncertain as to whether the wood is ready to be stained, you may wish to test a small amount on an area that isn’t very visible. If the paint takes well, you can then complete the entire fence. 

Is my fence protected from the elements if it is stained?

Now you may be wondering whether staining your fence protects it from the elements e.g adverse weather conditions. Often a stain is confused with a wood sealing product, however, there are differences between both.

A stain is primarily used to change the color of a fence, but it can make it last longer by protecting it from strong UV rays, rot, insects, and general wear and tear. The majority of stains are also effective in repelling water. To further prolong the longevity of your wooden face, you may wish to use a sealer on top of the stain.

You may also find products in your local store that combine the qualities of a stain and sealer in one product. This saves you from having to purchase each one individually. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there isn’t a single, definitive answer to this question. The amount of time that you need to wait will be influenced by multiple factors, such as the type of wood that is used to construct your fence. In some cases, the wood will be dry and ready to stain in a few days, and in others, you could be looking at a couple of weeks.