What’s the Best Fence Stain Brand for a Cedar Fence?

When you decide to stain your fence you naturally want a stain that will let your fence look its best, require as little maintenance as possible and give you a color that you can live with. Here are a few thoughts on choosing the best fence stain brand for a cedar fence.

General Principles

Before we start talking about specific brands let’s talk about what makes any brand a good choice. There are certain characteristics you want to look for when you choose a stain.

The first thing you need to do is choose an oil-based stain. Be very careful on this count as both water-based, gel, and latex stains are available, but neither of them absorb as well as the oil-based ones do. They also don’t do as good of a job at offering your fence UV or water protection, which are the primary reasons for staining a fence in the first place.

From there a lot depends on how you’d like the wood to look and how much maintenance you’d like to do on the fence.

Transparent stains require the least maintenance by far. These stains will also preserve the natural beauty of the wood, allowing the grain to show through. They may fade a bit but they will last for some time.

Semi-transparent stains will let the wood grain show through, but not some of the finer details. They’ll last a little longer than the transparent stains do.

Opaque or solid stains tend to need replacement every five years or so. A solid stain visibly fades in 3-5 years. However, if you are concerned about having a certain color for your fence then this may well be the way to go, as you can get creative with blues, greens, golds, roses, grays, and other colors.

Here are examples of how the opacity changes between these three types of stains:


Don’t worry if the stain says it’s a “deck” stain. You just need to be sure that it’s a good oil-based stain rated for exterior use.

When you stain your fence be sure to add two coats of stain as this will help it last longer. You should also be sure to follow our guidelines on staining a wood fence to achieve the very best results.

Remember, if you install a cedar fence it will need 5-7 weeks to dry in the sun before it will be ready for any kind of staining or treatment. Ignore this rule and it simply won’t matter what kind of stain you purchase because the results will not be what you hoped for!

Now the Brands Themselves

After doing some research we actually found an outstanding site that has answered this question in detail. If you want a truly comprehensive list of deck stains, their pros, and their cons then visit DeckStainHelp.com. They’ve got some cool reviews on other products too, like deck strippers or deck brighteners.

We’ve actually based these three recommendations on their reviews.

twp-100-wood TWP 100 Wood

TWP 100 Wood brands itself as a “contractor formula,” which means that it’s a go-to brand if you want to get a professional look for your cedar fence. It does a good job of preventing cedar from “going grey” for 2 – 3 years after applying it.

This stain also does an excellent job of preventing mold and mildew, which is one of the primary reasons why you’d add a stain in the first place. Again, you can count on it lasting for 2-3 years without any trouble. And it doesn’t need to be stripped if you’re going to use the same brand again when it’s time to stain your fence again.

However, if the wood is brand new you do have to wait at least 4 months to stain it. Talk to your fence contractor if you’re not sure about the age of your wood at the time of the fence installation to get a more accurate picture of how long you’ll need to wait.

Armstrong-Clark-Wood-Stain Armstrong Clark Wood Stain

Armstrong Clark Wood Stain is another great choice. It is tough on UV staining. It’s a durable stain that doesn’t display a lot of wear, tear, or peeling.

It’s also a very easy stain to apply and use. You can apply it in direct sunlight if you want to: it won’t dry unevenly or too fast. Other stains will present problems in full sun.

The stain does a great job of penetrating the wood and it tends to keep its color. It will last for about two years.

If you plan to use the same brand when you have to reapply the stain then, again, you can get away with simply cleaning your fence and re-staining it. You won’t have to go through the trouble of stripping it.

twp-1500 TWP 1500 Series Stain

You may not be able to find TWP 500 because it was replaced with TWP 1500. Fortunately, the new stain series maintained much of its quality.

Deck Stain Help noted in particular how the 1501 Cedar Tone color highlighted the natural beauty of cedar, showing off the wood grain in a particularly nice way.

It will keep your fence from going grey for 2 years or more. It penetrates deeply to avoid any wearing or peeling of the wood. It also does a good job of guarding against mold, mildew, and algae.

It is, however, quite a bit more expensive than the other two brands. Not that it’s a bad idea to pay good money for quality, but it’s worth taking into consideration when you’re trying to decide which brand you should choose.

Final Thoughts

Deck Stain Help made another excellent point about choosing a stain that is worth sharing in its entirety.

A better way to approach this common question is to ask, “what is the best stain for my deck and it’s environment”? Just because a deck stain performs well in the Northeast part of the country does not mean it will perform well in the high altitudes of Arizona. There are also VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) Laws the come into effect for different parts of the country. This may limit what is available in your state. For example, TWP 100 Series cannot be used in 17 states that have a low VOC content of 250.

So consider your location, whether or not your fence is in partial or full sun (what applies to decks also applies to fences) and other factors when choosing your stain.

We looked to see if Deck Stain Help had tested a stain in Wisconsin. They hadn’t, but they had tested both of the TWP stains in Michigan. That should be analogous enough for anyone living in Fox Point, Whitefish Bay, or anywhere else in the Milwaukee metro area.


  1. J Williams says:


    The TWP 1500 ‘California Redwood 1511’ we used on our red cedar fence has darkened significantly over the few years since application. The coating has now been removed by pressure washing and I’m looking for a different product that won’t darken the pretty color of the natural wood.

    J Williams

  2. Junior says:

    OIl based stain the best in Texas??

  3. Gregg Jester says:

    Is painting or using a solid stain a better option. I am getting on with my years and need the longest protection.

    • BCL says:

      It all depends on what you want – color choices, or wood-like choices. Either one requires a new coat every 4-5 years, but if you want a specific color (no grain will show), go with solid. If not go with transparent, or semi-transparent. Note that if you do use solid stain, the grain will be hidden. So if you decide instead you like transparent better, the solid will have to be pressure washed off, to get the wood grain back./ Test a small area of your fence w each type (solid, transparent), and see which one you prefer.

  4. Mary says:

    I’m putting in cedar pickets on pressure treated 2×4 frame. Pickets are kiln dried. Do I have to wait weeks before staining with oil base stain?

  5. MARIA RIDOLFI says:

    We just installed a cedar fence in Greenport where we are surrounded by water.
    Is there a special stain to use to prevent the salt water from damaging the wood.

  6. Mike McCormick says:

    Hi I have A six month old cypress best. The problem I’m having is I just put irrigation in my back yard spraying away from the fence obviously, but I am on a shallow well and it does produce rust colored water on concrete. The last four days that I’ve had the irrigation in the shallow well water has turned my cypress fence from the cypress color to a shade of gray. Do they make any kind of stain they can help against this?? I don’t want to ruin a $3000 fence but my irrigation is what it is. I have been told you cannot use anything that has a protected in it because it’s not good for the wood. Help!!!

    • Duane says:

      You must adjust sprinkler heads away, The ground Will still become saturated with water even without direct spray from sprinkler, Yes, House’s and Fencing don’t need watering.

  7. JenK says:

    I am building a cedar pergola and would like it to be grey. Is there a way to protect it from mold/mildew with a stain while letting it age and turn grey? Or should I just stain it grey? Thanks!

    • Brian Buchanan says:

      Cunapsol 5 copper based concentrate mixed 1:5 with water gives excellent mold and mildew protection. Manufactured by Chapman Chemical Company, Memphis Tennessee. Excellent product. Goes on pale green, then brown then gray. 5 year protection in most areas of the country.

  8. John H says:

    Give your neighbor permission to stain or paint his side any way he wants.
    Problem solved….and your fence will last longer.

  9. Jennie says:

    I want to know if Deck Stain Help has reviewed stains in my area (dry high desert southwest)- where can I find that on their website?

  10. Peter says:

    I just put in a new cedar fence with pressure treated wood 2×4 lateral framing (behind cedar planks) and vertical steel ground supports in cement. I’m contemplating spraying with TWP 100 in a few weeks (in Oklahoma so weather can be permitting late into the season). I’ve been told I should wash/clean the new fence with a cleaner? Is that necessary?

  11. Kate Ryan says:

    You say transparent stain requires the lease maintenance, but everything I’ve read says a transparent stain does not provide as much protection from UV light; therefore, you will have to reapply it every 12 to 18 months. The other two stains are heavy and protect longer.

    • J.J. says:

      Some transparent stains have UV protection and others don’t. If there is no UV protection sunlight will cause color changes. The better the UV protection the fewer changes you will see.

  12. Robert DeYoung says:

    When staining a new fence, should you stain both sides

    • A-1 Fence says:

      It’s really up to you but if you’re going to do both sides and if the side facing the outside of your property faces a neighbor, as a courtesy you’ll want to discuss color options with them since they’ll be the ones staring at it every day. Technically, it’s your fence and you can stain it whatever color you want but to prevent any unnecessary conflict you’ll want to include your neighbor on the color selection.

      • don says:

        Who cares what the neighbor thinks they not paying for it.

        • Rebecca says:

          I wouldn’t want you for a neighbor, way to self centered. Just wait until you want their assistance with something you don’t want. Why have so many people in our country become so anti-social? So sad.

          • David says:

            A1 suggested the owner and fence painter ask his neighbror to help choose the paint or stain color. Nobody knows if they know each other or get along.

            It is Robert’s property, his time, his money, his project, so it should be the color he felt worked best for his budget and liking.

            He should stain both sides same color to make it easy, prior to putting up the fence, to make it last longer and not rot away. He needs to be on the other person’s property to restain in 3 years, so he wants a good relationship, and one way to prevent fights with new neighbors where there is no relationship yet is to talk about plans like fencing, spraying, and plantings of trees.

            Staining one side would be useless.

    • B Theriot says:

      only if you
      You probably want to protect the wood on both sides.

Leave Comment

Please note: your comment may need to be approved before it is published.