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Fence Stain Comparison: Oil Based Vs. Water Based

Are you looking to refresh your timber fences, but feeling overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the right coating? Then keep reading.  

Unlike paint that covers the timber fence entirely and gives it a different look, fence stain goes deep into the grain of timber allowing its natural texture to shine through. This creates a beautiful look, keeping the timber feel intact. 

If you want, you can learn more about the difference between fence stain and fence paint in detail. 

Once you’re confident that fence stain is the right product for you, the key lies in understanding the two different types of fence stains (water-based and oil-based) and selecting the one that matches your needs and preferences.  

At Stock & Noble, we provide the finest fencing solutions to luxury properties across Australia and New Zealand. Our range of fence paints, stains and primers are carefully crafted by experts after thorough market research and valuable feedback from customers. We feature only water-based products that are safe for the environment and stand out as the best, long-lasting options for timber fences. 

However, we understand our solutions might not be suitable for every project or property owner’s needs and budget. So, we are driven to equip you with all the fact-based knowledge needed to make a well-informed decision. 

In this blog, we will discuss the main differences between water-based and oil-based fence stains, offering insights into their drying times, finish quality, durability, maintenance needs, and more. You will have all the information required to make the right choice for your timber fences and elevate the look of your property. 

Now, let’s dive into the two main categories of fence stains: water-based and oil-based. 


Oil-based fence stain Vs Water Based Fence Stain 


Comparison based on Finish Quality: 

Oil-based stains are known to offer a smooth and consistent finish that enhances the natural beauty of the wood. The deep penetration of the stain creates a thicker seal, providing superior protection against moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors.  

While it was always believed that oil-based stains give a superior finish, there has been a constant innovation in this category. The new age water-based stain and the ones created using hybrid technology offer similar and, in some cases, even better finish quality than traditional oil stains. 


Comparison based on drying time: 

Oil-based stains typically take longer to dry as compared to water-based. Some believe the extended drying time results in better penetration into the wood and an even finish as compared to water-based fence stains. 

Water-based stains dry relatively quickly, making them ideal for projects that require a faster turnaround time. This can be particularly advantageous if you’re working on tight deadlines or need to finish the project before the weather turns unsuitable.  


Comparison based on durability: 

One of the standout features of oil-based fence stains is their exceptional durability. The thicker seal formed by the stain ensures long-lasting protection, reducing the need for frequent maintenance and refinishing. 

Water-based stains are known for their ability to maintain their colour for longer periods compared to oil-based stains. This means your fence will retain its vibrant hue and aesthetic appeal. 


Comparison based on Environmental Considerations: 

Water-based stains are environmentally friendly options, as they produce minimal fumes and odours during application. Also, water-based stains are non-flammable, providing added safety benefits for both user and the environment. They are safer for the planet, your stock as well as you. 

On the other hand, oil-based fence stains are higher in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), typically flammable and pose a safety hazard for everyone involved.  


Comparison based on Application and Clean-Up: 

Water-based fence stains are much easier to apply and clean up than oil-based ones. 

There are no fumes or solvents in water-based products, so you can apply with minimal gear and clean up with simply water and soap.Any excess or spills can also be simply cleaned up with water. So, it’s a breeze overall. 

On the other hand, oil-based fence stains need specific gear for application to ensure safety and clean-up requires chemicals. The equipment used to apply oil-based fence stains must either be cleaned properly using specified products or disposed off safely. Being flammable, there’s a risk involved when storage and transport procedures aren’t followed correctly. 


Comparison based on Cost: 

Typically, a good water-based stain is going to be more expensive than an oil-based stain, this is largely due to the water-based technology/process doing what an oil-based process does, which means more raw ingredients are needed. the result is you get a more planet, human, animal-friendly product, which saves you time applying and cleaning up. 


Comparison based on Maintenance: 

In our experience, both would be similar when it comes to maintenance. Though water-based would be easier in terms of time of application and clean up. Preparation of the damaged area would be equal as when it comes to staining or painting, it all starts with preparation. 


Ready to Choose Between Water-based and Oil-based Fence Stain? 

In conclusion, selecting the right fence stain for your timber fences can significantly enhance the appearance and durability of your property.  

Water-based stains are known for their quick drying time and ease of application. They offer vibrant, long-lasting colours that remain true over time. Plus, clean-up is a breeze – simply use soap and water.  

On the other hand, oil-based stains are typically known for their durability and ability to penetrate deep into the wood, providing robust protection against the elements. While they may take longer to dry, the result is a rich finish that lasts a long time. 

However, the newly developed water-based fence stains have overcome the age-old belief that oil-based stains offer a better finish and are swiftly creating longer-lasting lustrous-looking timber fences. We recommend checking with your supplier for durability and finish quality. 

The final choice depends on your choice and preferences. If you choose to go ahead with water-based fence stains, the next step is to learn how to apply them. It’ll be worth checking out a step-by-step process for applying stains on your timber fences. You can learn pro tips and tactics to make sure your project is smooth and successful. 

If you have more questions on choosing the right fence stain or need guidance picking a colour for your timber fences, speak to a professional. Our experts will guide you every step of the way to create a beautiful property, just the way you imagined. 

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