Learning how to apply wood stain to your wood siding exterior or fence preserves it from damage by the elements as well as helping it to maintain as much of the inherent, natural wood look as possible. You can choose from oil-based or latex stain, and without using a primer first like you would if using paint. You do have to apply stain more frequently than you would paint, however.
Whether you choose opaque stain, solid-color stain, or one of the semitransparent or transparent stains is up to you. With a consistency resembling thinned paint, solid-color and opaque stain contains more color pigment than semitransparent and transparent stain, which does not let the grain of the wood show through but does so for the wood color.
Semitransparent and transparent stain is very thin in consistency and allows both the color of the wood as well as the grain to show through. You can make your wood darker or lighter-colored depending upon the pigmentation of these stains. Preservatives are sometimes added to these type of stains, so be sure and read the label if you want that extra amount of protection.
Before applying stain, you must prepare the area. Make any necessary repairs and caulk around doors and windows. Wash off dirt with soap and water, and remove any mildewed areas with a solution of three parts water to one part bleach.
If you are using oil based stain you will want a natural bristle brush to apply it. Synthetic brushes work fine for latex stain. Apply the stain with brushes made for stain application, which are shorter-bristled to avoid dripping as much as a regular paint brush. Always test the color of the stain you have chosen on an out-of-the-way area to ensure the color is what you planned.
Choose a dry, moderately warm day (around 70 degrees is ideal) to apply stain. Mix well and apply in the direction of the grain. Working in small areas, avoid lap marks by brushing from dry areas to wet areas.
Finish a section at a time, moving left to right of horizontally placed siding and up and down on vertically applied siding. Do not stop in the middle of a section. If applying a second coat of stain to cover up old stain, allow the first coat to dry for at least 24 hours.