How to Stain or Paint Your Wood Fence to Prevent Termites?

Painting fence

Worried termites will lay waste to your new fence? Worry not, you are not alone!

Research done on termites last year reveals that termite infestation is a common problem throughout the United States – particularly in the southern half of the country.

Termites usually spread through from the ground levels to reach your fences as well as wooden furniture at home.

They make use of termite tubes (that are made up of mud) to travel over the non-wood items like concrete, brick or metal.

Fortunately, there are several proven ways that can prevent (and help get rid of) termite infestation.

Painting and staining your wooden fence or other infested articles are one of them.

In this guide, we’ll go over the different methods of painting a wooden fence that will protect against termites and give your yard an added aesthetic.

We’ll also see how you can use a paint sprayer to get the job done in half the time!

Keep reading to find out the best ways to treat your fence so that it stays termite free and good-looking!


5 Different Ways to Termite-Proof Your Wood Fence


In general, termites does not tend to eat painted wood.

And ht good part is from primers and paints to oil-based stains, there’s more than one way to paint and get rid of termites in your wood fence.

Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these ways so you can better fight off termites your way.

1- Use Termite-Proof Wood

While this may sound to be quite general, its one of the best ways to prevent termites, especially when you are building a new fence rather than staining or painting an already existing fence in your backyard.

Termite-proof woods like Redwood, Yellow Cedar, Laotion Teak, and Tallowwood are the best-known options for construction and avoiding the possible termite infestation.

However, since these types of wood are rare (may be unavailable or out of your budget) you can consider using a plank of pressure-treated wood.

These are easily available at your local hardware stores or lumber depots.

2- Use An Oil-Based Primer

If you plan on painting your pine or cedar fence, you should start off with an oil-based wood primer that’s designed specifically for protecting the wooden surfaces.

These primers are designed to act as a termite repellant and are highly effective at keeping the nasty bugs away from your wood.

Remember that, for best results, you’ll want to apply two coats. Make sure that the first coat of primer is fully dry before you apply the second.

3- Use Termite-Repellant Paint

Once you have applied the oil-based primer, it’s time to put on your final coat.

This finish comes in the form of termite-proof paint (on Amazon) that you can apply for even more protection against the pesky critters.

When painting, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and keep in mind that you may need to apply two to three coats in order to get that quality protection (and look) that you’re going for.

4- Use An Oil-Based Stain

You may also choose to stain your fence if you are going for a more natural look.

Before you apply your stain (make sure it’s oil-based), you’ll want to coat your fence evenly with wood sealer so that you add an extra layer of protection against termites and prep the fence wood for the stain treatment.

Next, you’ll want to apply your oil-based stain.

This stain will give the fence a more natural look and also prevent termites by allowing the oil to soak into the wood.

For best results, be sure to apply more than one coat of each, as this will allow you to reach deeper into the wood for better termite protection.

5- Apply Borate-Based Wood Preservative

Before you apply your paint or stain, you may choose to apply a borate-based wood preservative.

This solution, which comes as either a liquid you can apply or a powder you can mix with water, is highly effective at keeping termites at bay.

For optimal results, be sure to apply the borate wood preservative evenly and pour it into any post holes, as this will allow the chemical to seep into the surrounding ground areas and repel termites even more efficiently.


How to Stain Your Fence with a Paint Sprayer?


Before going to steps, lets quickly have a look – why you exactly need to stain your wood fence.

  • It refreshes the look and style
  • It prevents the rotting or pest infestations
  • It provides better endurance to seasonal changes and weather conditions

Properly staining the fence requires a little preparation if you want to do the job right. Hence do not skip the preparation steps whatever the condition is.

Step 1. Fence Preparation

Clear out the workspace, cover the surrounding areas, and use a clean cloth or newspapers to ensure that any stain which does not hit the fence does not go anywhere it is not supposed to go.

You should start by removing all objects near the work area that might possibly be covered when using a paint sprayer.

So, outdoor furniture, plants in pots, and the like can be removed. Plants and other vegetation along the fence will need to be covered to keep the stain from getting to them.

Although being outdoors means plenty of ventilation, you should wear a protective mask to keep from inhaling the fumes and odors generated from the wet stain.

This also means wearing gloves and clothing to protect the skin. You might consider specialized clothing that is easy to wash or simply throw away.

You may not be able to prevent all accidents or injuries, but you can minimize them to a considerable degree when taking the proper precautions.

Step 2. Cleaning & Checking the Fence

Now that you have prepared the area, the next step is checking the fence itself for any infestation.

If there are any termites seen make sure that you kill them before staining.

You’ll want to make repairs (like filling the nail holes, cracks, etc.) before you add the stain.

Plus, you’ll also want to remove or tighten any loose screws or nails in the fence itself.

Now you will need to clean the fence to ensure that you are not covering dirt or other debris.

For cleaning a wood fence before staining you can start by washing the fence and taking notice of any flaking paint.

Just remove all the old stain or paint that is loose. A good fence cleaner can be used to remove any additional debris if left behind.

Now when you have cleaned the fence for staining, you are ready to add the primer coating.

Step 3. Primer Coat

A primer coat will help the stain stick to the old fence. You will need to use a clean paintbrush and apply the coat.

This will take longer compared to using a paint gun, but it will ensure that that you cover all the fence. As the primer coat dries, use that time to prepare the paint gun.

Step 4. Stain the Fence

Purchase the type of anti-termite paint/stain you want to use, pour it into the paint sprayer, and adjust the settings for maximum effect.

Remember to put the lid back on the can of stain before setting off to the fence. Now you are ready.

Aim the paint gun at the area of the fence you want to address first.

You should be about six inches to a foot away from the fence and spray according to how the fence panels are positioned. For horizontal panels, spray up and down.

For vertical panels, spray back and forth. Try to keep the action even and not to arc or curve when spraying or you might miss some areas.

Keep a paintbrush handy to correct any areas where the stain may puddle or gather. The brush will even such areas out.

How many coats you will need?

In most cases, you should not have to add a second coat of stain unless the coat you applied was too thin.

This can happen when diluting stain so that it goes through the sprayer properly. Otherwise, you can now relax and enjoy the day.

Step 5. Let the Stain Dry

Depending on how much stain you use, it will generally take about 18 to 24 hours before it fully dries. This will depend on the temperature and weather conditions.

A warm, sunny day will mean it takes less, a cold, cloudy day means it will take longer to dry. Be sure to look at the instructions on the can to see the expected time.

Step 6. Remove the Coverings and Clean the Tools

After you have stained your fence and its dried, it’s time to remove all the coverage from your plants. If you used any plant cane and ties do remove them as well carefully.

Drying the stain before you remove the covering from plants is important as the wet paint can get in contact with the plants and can damage them.

Finally, when you are done do not forget to wash the painting materials you used (like sprayer, brushes, roller, trays or any other).

Properly cleaning your tools using white spirit or thinner is important before you can store them. This will help you preserve them in good condition for future use.


Why Use a Paint Sprayer for Painting a Fence?


Keeping the above steps in mind, let’s move onto another question: is it okay to use a paint sprayer for painting fences?

Or should you consider using a paintbrush?

As it turns out, paint sprayers are one of the most popular tools for fence painting, as they allow you to cover large areas over a short period of time.

In other words, when properly used, paint spraying can save you a considerable amount of time while getting the job completed the way you want.

With traditional paint-brushes, rollers and other tools, it can take you several hours (or even days) to get your fence properly painted or stained.

With paint sprayers, you can paint even hard to reach areas quickly and efficiently.

For this reason, you’ll want to look into the best paint sprayer options so that you can get your wood painted, stained, and termite-free in no time!


How Often Should You Paint Your Fence?


In general, you will need to repaint your wood fence every 2 to 3 years.

This can be a bit more or less depending on what kind of wood you have and the type of stain you use on them.

Your exterior food fence is exposed to all kinds of harsh weather conditions. Mainly the moisture is the worst enemy that can damage your wood fencing earlier.

How soon you will need to repaint your fence will, therefore, depend on the specific weather conditions in your region.

For example, if it’s a region that gets heavy rains, you may need to spray your fence more often. The same is also true for places with scorching hot days.

Regions with moderate climate will, however, require less frequent fence maintenance.

One of the best ways to figure out when its time for fence maintenance is to check for water beading.

On your properly stained and sealed fence surface, if the water does not bead up (but gets soaks in), it’s the best time for repainting.

You may also check for any cracks, chips or wear on your fence to know whether it needs the repaint or not.


What Kind of Stain Should You Use for Your Fence?


Remember, there are lots of products available on the market for staining fence.

Since not all of them are good enough, you will need to have your research done.

Make sure that you check for the product that is weather-resistant and can be used for exterior wood.

By checking the product information, you can easily figure out what exactly is the paint’s intended use.

The stains for fence (like DEFY, KILZ, Wood Defender, etc) are designed to be highly durable and can easily resist harsh weather conditions, no matter where you live.

Plus, you can easily wipe them clean with a soft cloth.

Many of these oil-based wood paints for fence painting are best suited for your rough sawn timber, cider, pine, redwood, spruce, and even pressure-treated wood.

Not only you can use them for protecting the wood fences but also for sheds, cabins, backyard wood storage or any other garden wood.

Whichever brand name or product you pick, make sure you buy the right quantity that is enough to cover all the fence area you intend to paint.

If you are using a paint sprayer, you will also need to check that the stain you choose is good for spraying and can be easily sprayed over.  


Below are some essential tools, stains and paint materials you will find useful. If you are considering to stain your fence this season do check them out on Amazon.

Graco Magnum 262800 X5 Stand Airless Paint Sprayer
SPRAY MORE PROJECTS EACH YEAR: Annual use recommendation is up to 125 gallons per year; VOLTAGE: 110 volts
$299.00
Pro Grade - Paint Brushes - 5 Ea - Paint Brush Set
These high-quality brushes for painting are long-lasting and made to be washed and reused.
$6.19

*Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


How Much Wood Stain Do I Need for My Fence?


If you know how much stain you will need before you make the purchase, you can save a considerable amount of money.

You’ll also save time and effort as well in buying what you need the first time.

What follows is an easy way to calculate the coverage and based on that how much stain you will need for your wood fence.

  • Measure the Height and Length of the Fence
  • Multiply the Height by the Length: This determine the square footage
  • Double the Result: If you are staining both sides of the fence

Now that you know the square footage that needs to be covered, you can now go to the store and read the can.

Most stains offer between 150 to 200 square feet per gallon, but this may vary so check the information carefully.

Divide the total square feet by the coverage that is found on the can. This will determine how many cans you will need to stain your wooden fence completely.

If you have 1,000 square feet to cover and each gallon of stain covers 200 square feet, then you divide 1,000 by 200 and the result is five gallons.

Remember to round up all fraction results to ensure you are getting enough stain.


Should You Kill Termites in Your Fence Before Painting?


Yes, it’s important to treat termites before painting – if they are already there in your old fence.

Most of the time homeowners think of removing and replacing the old infested fence as the only viable option.

If it is heavily damaged you should remove them and burn all the pieces. Get the new one installed and follow the staining process (mentioned above) for protection.

However, if the fence is not heavily damaged and can be repaired you can kill termites and repaint the fence to make it like new.

So, how can you exactly get rid of termites in the wood fence before painting?

One of the best and most environmental-friendly ways of killing the termites in and around your fence is by using termite bait traps.

Remember, killing the termites that are present in your fence will NOT going to stop the termite activity completely.

You will instead need to detect the swarming termites (usually found inside the ground) and kill them for getting rid of them permanently.

Termite traps are basically the bait stations that are placed in or above the ground around your home (near the fence, deck, etc).

These traps do not actually trap the termites.

But it works by providing the bait (that may contain paper, wood, cellulose). These baits are combined with a poisonous substance that can actually kill the termites.

Spectracide Termite killer is one of the best termite baits that I have found and have been using for many years.

Not only it kills the termite fast but also it helps in detecting the termites very quickly around your fence.

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Spectracide Terminate Termite Detection & Killing...
  • Two termite products IN one: pop-up indicators detect termite...
  • Installs IN minutes: place stakes in the ground 2 to 3 feet away from...
  • Pop-up indicator: check the stakes for termite activity when the...

*Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Few other ways by which you can control the termite infestation naturally are:

1- Use termite repellent plants:

Plant species like catnip and vetiver grass are effective to repel flying termites and can be used as a natural way to prevent termites near your fence area.

Marigolds, garlic, hot chili peppers, and mint are other few plants that helps to deter termites (and vampires) from your garden.  

The good thing is some of these plants are so effective that they can also help in repelling aphids, moles, and fruit tree borers in your backyard.

2- Allow easy access to sunlight:

Bright sunlight and heat has the properties to kill the termites.

If you are not interested in planting the termite-repellent plants you can clean the vegetation around your house fence which will then allow enough sunlight access to promote termite death.


What Type of Wood Do Termites Eat – And What They Do Not?


Different types of termites eat through varied variety of woods because they get their required cellulose and nutrients they need to live.

Unlike other creatures or insects, these small creeping insects have an ability to break down and digest the wood due to the protozoa and bacteria they have in their gut.

  • Subterranean termites usually feed on pine, oak, and soft fibers of springwood – they do not prefer to eat harder summerwood.
  • Drywood termites like to eat dry wood like your hardwood floors, furniture, frames, and structural timbers – they do not like to live in the soil.
  • Dampwood termites will mostly eat through moist wood-like decaying logs, stumps and wood piles – they do not prefer infesting building and interior homes.

Termites are not very picky and they also tend to eat other woods and materials like particle board, cardboard, plywood, poplar wood, fabric, and drywall (particularly the paper inside the sheetrock).

Few other materials that they do NOT pick for eating include pressure-treated lumber, cement-bonded oriented strand board (OSB), plastic and concrete.

Related Questions:

Is it better to stain or paint a fence?

When you are to choose between painting and staining a fence, I would suggest getting them stained rather than painting.

Since wood can absorb the stains to a much deeper extent than it does the paint, the finish you will get with staining will be excellent and longer-lasting.

Plus, it will also prevent the termites from eating through painted wood.

Can you paint over stained wood fence?

Painting over the stained wood fence to protect it from insects would not be a problem if there are no signs of peeling paint.

However, if you see any dried-up peeling stain or the signs of weathering you should remove the old stain properly before staining the fence fresh.

There are fence cleaners available in the market that can be used for cleaning and removing the stain.

How much does it cost to stain a wood fence?

The price to paint or stain your wood fence may range anywhere from $750 to $4500.

In general, it’s found that the cost may average $1 to $3 per square foot.

However, this will generally depend on factors such as the condition of your old fence, the height, the length, the quality of stain, etc.

The cost will also vary depending on whether you want to get them stained yourself or through a professional.

Final Thoughts

By using the right solutions, namely oil-based termite-proof paints and stains, you’ll be able to get your old wood fence properly treated for termites.

In fact, repainting or staining is one of the greatest ways to get rid of termites in wood fence.

This will also help your fence’s aesthetic in the long term, as these solutions are highly effective at keeping the swarm of termites away from your wood.

Plus, it will also help in protecting the wood against the elements, such as UV rays (that causes greying of wooden fence overtime) and rainwater (that can seep-in and can rot the wood or can create splits and cracks).

No matter what you choose to use, be sure to use a good paint sprayer for your fence staining work, as it helps to save time and get tough-to-reach areas with a clean and even finish.

In fact, using a paint sprayer is the fastest way to stain a fence as it allows you to evenly coat the entire surface very soon without wasting your time and energy.

Hopefully, by following the tips in this guide, you’ll be able to get that good-looking, termite-free fence in no time—with no hassle to boot!

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