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The Difference between Wood Stain and Varnish

In the world of wooden fences, a key challenge is keeping your fence looking great year after year. It’s not like metal, aluminum or PVC/plastic fences, which tend to retain their color much longer. Wood fences need periodic treatment, either brush-on or spray-on, to preserve their good looks.

Everybody knows what paint is and how it can change the appearance of a wood fence. But not everybody understands the difference between wood stains and wood varnishes. Here’s what you need to know to help you decide if either product is right for your upcoming fence project.

stained wood fence, nobleton flWood stain

Wood stains are in some ways similar to paint: they’re applied in order to alter the color of the wood. At the same time, they enhance the appearance of the grain markings within the wood.

What wood stains do

  • Stain moves into the wood and then creates a seal to help prevent damaging moisture from entering the wood’s porous surfaces
  • Provide some protection from the effects of UV light from the sun, which can mar the appearance of wood
  • Stains bring out the natural qualities of the wood beneath them, unlike paint, which completely covers up the wood aesthetics

Wood varnish

Varnish contains no pigment (color) and is used as sealant, not as a color-enhancer. Applied correctly, varnish dries to a solid top coat and is available with different levels of gloss.

What varnishes do

  • Provide a powerful seal against rain, which eventually will rot wood
  • Prevents surface marring from scratches and scrapes
  • Effectively preserves the natural look of the wood fence for many years

stained wood fence, nobleton flDeciding if wood stains and varnishes are good choices for your wood fence

As you can see, wood stains and varnishes have different uses when used on wood fences. Both solutions are pretty easy to apply by following the directions on the product labeling.

The process can be time-consuming, however, regardless of which application you go with. If time is a big factor in your life (as it probably is) you’re best off going with a professional painter or contractor to do the job.

During your decision-making, review photos of wood fences or actual fences in your area that have been stained and varnished. The protective elements of these solutions are important, but so is the eye-appeal: you want your fence to look fantastic – and the time to decide if wood stain or varnish will accomplish this is before you start working on the project.

In the end, you may find that a simple paint job with a spray-on water-repellant might be the ideal option.

Wood fence issues

Proper care and maintenance of a wood fence will go a long way in preserving its beauty and keeping it in good shape for many years. If you have a wood fence that’s fallen into disrepair and become structurally unsound and not very nice to look at, enlist the help of a licensed fencing contractor.

A Perfect 10 Fencing of Brooksville, FL, can help with all types of wood fence repair & rebuilding. We’re the local, licensed fencing experts who believe the only kind of fence that’s good enough for you is a “perfect 10” fence.

Learn more about our fence repair and fencing installation services by calling (352) 606-2623.