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redwood stain on a cedar fence

How to choose a fence stain color

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Matt Stone

There are so many fence stain color options available it can be hard to settle on just one. You don’t want to waste time or money by choosing the wrong color for your fence. We have collected our top suggestions for selecting a fence stain color that will be perfect for your home.

#1 Match your house’s architecture

It is best to think of your fence like an extension to your home. It will look it’s best if it matches the style and feel of the house. Are there already stained accents on your house somewhere? The safest bet would be to match the stain that is already used on another part of your house.

Do you already have stain on your house?

Stained cedar beams, columns and accents are becoming very popular today. If you already have stain somewhere on your house the safest bet is to match it.

Alternatively you could choose a color in the same family as what you already have but go a little darker or lighter. That way the colors should still compliment each other.

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Is your siding or brick a warm or cool color?

If your brick or siding is a warm color like red or yellow, a warm stain will nicely compliment your home.

A warm stain will have warm undertones of red, yellow or orange. These undertones only have to be slight for the effect to work so don’t worry if you don’t want to have a “RED” fence.

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If your brick or siding is a cool color like blue or gray, a cool or neutral stain would likely be best.

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Brown colors often come across as neutral and pair well with cool tones.

To learn more about cool vs. warm colors read this article by Benjamin Moore.

#2 Match Your Style

This is your home so the fence color should be a reflection of your personal style. Many stain colors lend themselves to a particular kind of style.

  • Rustic: tends toward the warm tones, especially with red undertones.
  • Sophsticated: Dark tones like chocolate browns or even the daring black.
  • Contemporary: Grays or even colors like blue or green not normally seen in fence stains.

If you’re not sure what you like, you can try browsing sites like Houzz or Pinterest and see what kinds of fences keep catching your eye.

#3 Do You Want it to Stand Out?

Your fence can either act as a backdrop for the rest of your outdoor space or it can make a statement all its own. The color you choose will change how much visual impact your fence will make.

To make your fence stand out:

Lighter colors will stand out more than darker.

The less “natural” the color is the less it will blend in with its surroundings.

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To make your fence blend in:

Darker colors tend to “recede” or blend in with their surroundings.

A natural color will be more likely to blend in with the landscape.

Using plants or landscaping in front of the fence can create a focal point that draws attention away from the fence.

#4 Consider a Stain’s Transparency

This refers to how opaque or see-through a stain is. A transparent stain will show more of the wood grain and have a more natural look. A semi-transparent stain will cover more wood grain but can also result in a more even color.

Transparent Stain

redwood stain on a cedar fence
  • Usually used on new fences.
  • Offer the most natural look.
  • Show the most wood grain.
  • Look great on cedar.

Semi-transparent Stain

Fence Stained with coffee brown scaled
  • For both new and older fences.
  • Can hide imperfections in the wood.
  • Great for pine or other woods with little grain to highlight.
  • Stronger pigments will often last longer than transparent stains.

Solid Stains are another option to consider. They offer complete color coverage and act more like paint. This is a great option if the fence has been damaged or has blemishes that will show through the more transparent stains. The solid color will completely hide the wood underneath and give a consistent look.

Unbranded stain transparency chart

#5 Will this Color be in Stock?

Some suppliers will carry a selection of the most popular colors in stock in your area. They may have a wider selection of special order colors. While it is certainly easier to select a stock color, perhaps the one you really want must be ordered. Here are a few questions you might ask about ordering stain.

  • How long will it take to arrive?
  • Will there be additional charges? (shipping, etc.)
  • Can we make sure to order enough so we don’t run out before the job is done?

#6 Ask a Pro

Sometimes, talking to someone who does staining for a living is the easiest way to pick the perfect color. They have likely seen many situations similar to yours and can recommend what has worked in the past.

If you are a homeowner in the Oklahoma City Metro area, Hometown Painting LLC would be happy to assist you with fence stain color selection. You can simply put in a request on our contact page and someone will reach out within 24 hours.

Also, you can learn more about our fence staining process here.

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Author: Matt Stone
Matt is the owner of Hometown Painting. He has worked in the painting and construction trades for over 10 years. He has a passion for teaching homeowners so they can make the best paint choices for their homes.

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