The cost to stain a fence averages $1.90 per square foot when homeowners hire a pro for the work. Fence staining cost can be as low as $1.25 or more than $3.00 per square foot based on site factors discussed below. The average cost to stain a fence that is 6’ high with 200 linear feet, or 1,200 square feet is about $2,300.
This fence staining cost guide covers cost factors and DIY materials cost. It starts with a table that offers easy comparison.
How Much Does it Cost to Stain a Fence
Each fence is 1,200 square feet and stained by a professional contractor.
|Cost to Stain a Fence|
|Low Cost||Medium Cost||High Cost|
|Total Cost||$1,500 – $1,800||$1,980 – $2,760||$2,850 – $3,600|
|Cost/Square Foot||$1.25 – $1.50||$1.65 – $2.30||$2.38 – $3.00|
|Sides||1||1 or 2||2|
|Shadow Box||No||Yes or No||Yes|
|Coats||1||1 or 2||1 or 2|
|Repairs||None||None or Few||Few+|
|Foliage/Pool||None||1||1 or Both|
|Rail/Post Caps||None||Rail||Rail & Cap|
A 1,200 square foot fence might be 300 linear foot and 4’ high, 200 Linear feet and 6’ high, 150 linear foot and 8’ high, or similar dimensions.
Most homeowners pay $1,700 – $3,000 for staining a 1,200 square foot wood fence.
The High Cost range represents fences with unusual cost factors such as lattice on top, higher-than-average repair needs or wood that is quite old and takes more stain than most require.
Compare Other Fence Costs
Cost to Stain a Fence
As we’ve reviewed other cost estimating sites, prices “out there” range from about $.30 (30 cents) from How Much Is It to more than $7.00 per square foot. Many are wildly inaccurate.
Our wood fence staining costs are based on actual job quotes from local contractors, homeowner-reported prices and a cost to stain a fence calculator from a contractor in Ft. Worth, TX plus another from Behr, a stain manufacturer. Here is the cost to stain a fence calculator from Stain and Seal of Ft. Worth, and here is Behr’s, which focuses on the amount of stain needed. We should say that the cost of living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex is low to average. Depending on your location, costs might be higher or lower. And keep in mind that the calculator produces “ballpark” numbers.
These fence stain cost factors determine whether you pay a little over $1.00/square foot or closer to $3.00.
- One Side or Two – Staining a fence on both sides adds 75% or more to the cost.
- Is it a Shadow Box Fence – According to the cost to stain a fence calculator from Stain and Seal of Ft. Worth, this cost factor affects its cost by $1.25 per square foot. There is more material to stain, and the work is a little harder given the angles that have to be stained.
- One Coat or Two – If you stain your fence every few years, then one coat might do the job. If this is a new fence, never stained, or if it has been more than 5 years since an older fence was stained, then plan a second coat. We should note that Behr “recommends” two coats for all fence staining projects when solid color stain is used. Behr says two coats are “required” when semi-transparent or transparent wood stains and finishes are employed.
- Quality of the Stain – Two coats of cheaper stain might look good initially, and will cost less, but the beauty won’t last as long as when a quality fence or wood stain is used. You’ll save a few bucks per gallon if you buy a 5-gallon pail vs a 1-gallon can, but with coverage of about 225 square feet per gallon on a well-maintained fence, you will need about 1,100 square feet of fence single-coated or 550 square feet double-coated to make it worthwhile.
- Solid, Semi-Transparent or Transparent – Cost varies by a few dollars per gallon, with darker/solid stain costing the most. See Retail Costs below for details. And see the Pro Tip below for the differences in appearance and maintenance requirements.
- Whether Repairs are Needed – The costs here allow for minor repairs such as fastening loose boards or possibly replacing a few. More significant fence repair is outside the scope of this guide. But they are explored in detail in our Fence Repair Guide.
- Fence Size – Total cost goes up with fence size, obviously, but fence stain cost per square foot might actually drop a bit the larger the fence. It’s basic economies of scale.
- Fence Height – When two fences have the same square footage, the taller one will take a little more time to stain, so cost will be slightly higher.
- Horizontal Top Cap or Decorative Post Caps – These items affect cost by 5 to 15 cents per square foot, according to most fence stain cost calculators.
- Board on Board / Privacy Fence – When boards are so tight, or slightly overlap for privacy, cost can be up to 10 cents per square foot higher.
- Pools – Having to work cautiously around a pool, especially if applying stain with a sprayer, can add to the fence stain cost per square foot – or lead to a one-time fee for taking necessary precautions.
- Concrete Footings or Retaining Wall – A little extra care must be taken to keep stain off the concrete, so most companies charge a little extra.
- Foliage – If trees and shrubs have to be trimmed, since they rub against the fence or impede the work, cost will be higher. This is an easy place to save a little money – trimming the foliage prior to getting fence staining estimates.
- Time of Year – Paint contractors are busy, busy, busy for the first several months after the weather warms up. As autumn approaches – or winter months in mild climates – the work slows, and estimates often get more competitive.
Retail Cost for Fence Stain and Supplies
How much does it cost to stain a wood fence if you do the work yourself?
Here are costs for the DIY homeowner or anyone that wants to know where their money is going.
Note: Most deck stain includes sealer. It is assumed in these prices. A stain without sealer isn’t worth the money.
- Solid Fence Stain | $36 – $60 per gallon, $165 – $280 per 5 gallons.
- Semi-transparent Fence Stain | $32 – $55 per gallon, $148 – $260 per 5 gallons.
- Transparent and Clear Fence Stain | $28 – $45 per gallon, $125 – $200 per 5 gallons.
- Quality Nylon Bristle Brush | $10 – $20 each depending on size and quality.
- Residential-grade Paint Sprayer | $80 – $150. Some stains can be applied with a sprayer, and the work goes up to 50% faster. If you keep the sprayer maintained, it should pay for itself in terms of time saved over the course of several household paint and stain projects.
Pro Tip on Stain Options: Check the guarantee/warranty on the products you are comparing.
Valspar, as one example, offers a 25-year guarantee on solid fence stain, 6 years for semi-transparent and only 4 years on clear. Yet, the solid stain costs only about $5 per gallon more.
The reason is that the manufacturers put solids, which are cheap but very tough, into their solid fence stains. The upside is that you get better durability for the money. The downside is that solid stain looks a lot like paint. It hides the natural wood grain of the fence.
If you treasure the real-wood look, you’ll want a clear or semi-transparent stain and will have to accept the higher maintenance costs that come with staining every 5 years instead of 10 or more.
Clearer stain and sealer goes a little further on most fences. A weathered fence will take more stain than a well-maintained deck. New, pressure-treated fences also take less stain because they are saturated already.
- Solid: 150 – 350 square feet
- Semi-Transparent: 150 – 375 square feet
- Transparent/Clear: 175 – 400 square feet
Average Cost to Stain a Fence – Web Comparison
These are costs per square foot.
|Fence Guides||$1.25 – $3.00||$1.90|
|Homewyse||$0.86 – $2.07||$1.64|
|Home Advisor||$1.00 – $2.50||$1.75|
|Porch||$0.83 – $2.00||$1.47|
|Thumb Tack||$0.40 – $2.00||$1.20|