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How To Calculate Your Fence Staining Project

How To Calculate Your Fence Staining Project

Breakdown Cost of Fence Staining

The joys of homeownership also come with the responsibilities of maintenance and a wood fence is often a part of that routine maintenance. So, what’s it run to stain or restain a wood fence anyway? Hopefully, we can help you understand and provide some information to help calculate your fence staining project so you’re not hit with unexpected costs.

We’re going to discuss how to calculate the square footage so we know what kind of supplies and how many supplies to purchase or approximately how much it will cost. We’ll dig a little into the cost of labor if you’re looking to hire a fence staining company.

In the end, we will tie it all together and show you an approximate/fair price for a fence staining project to help you in your decision-making process. Whether you plan on hiring a contractor or doing it yourself, having an idea of the overall cost will help you in figuring out what’s a fair price.

Step 1 – Calculate Square Footage

calculate fence sq ft

Multiply Length and Height

When it comes to calculating the square footage, a common mistake some homeowners make in their calculations is the fence has two sides.

First, to calculate the square footage, you need the total linear length of the fence you’re wanting to stain.

Second, we need to know the height of the fence.  Measure from top to bottom of the fence to get the height.

Next, take the total length of the fence and multiply it by the height (Length X Height).  For example – if your fence is a total of 150 Linear Feet (LF) in length and you have a 6 ft. tall fence, the square footage is 900.  But wait, there are two sides, so the total square footage of a 150 ft. fence that is 6 ft. tall is 1,800 square feet.

Fence Type Can Effect Calculations

shadow box fence stainingThere is one popular fence in particular that can affect that total square footage number, a shadow box fence, as demonstrated in the picture.  Since the boards on a shadow box wood fence overlap, that have to be taken into consideration.  If you have a shadow-box fence, you will need to take the total square footage and multiply it by 1.5 to get the sq. ft. of a shadow box. So in this scenario, take 1,800 X 1.5 = 2,700.

If you have a short picket fence with large gaps between the boards, it can affect the number of gallons you will use, but not much.  It’s better to have a few gallons left over you can return than to be in the middle of a project and run short of materials, go to the store and discover they’re out of stock.

Step 2 – Decide What Prep Work is Required

Whether you’re wood fence painting or staining anything, prep work is always a key factor in the longevity of whatever product you apply. When it comes to fence staining, prep work makes a difference as well.

flood wood stripperIf you want to make sure your fence is ready for staining, the prep work is more than just a pressure wash for the majority of cases – even if it’s a new fence.  Nearly every fencing company will tell you to allow the wood to weather before staining.  If you allow your wood to weather, it will oxidize and turn gray but it will also accumulate pollen, mold or mildew spores that you may not see.  Applying a quality cleaner to the wood followed by a pressure wash is really a better way to prep.

A wood cleaner will go roughly 250-300 sq. ft. per gallon.  So, let’s use the example we’ve been using.

Product$ Per GallonCoverage (sq ft)Fence Sq FtEstimated GallonsCost
Wood Cleaner$15.002501,8008$120.00

*Pricing will be different depending on the product, location, retailer and sales tax.

Step 3 – Calculate Fence Staining Coverage and Gallons Needed

As previously stated, the number of gallons you will need can depend on the type of fence you have. Remember, if you have a shadow-box, don’t forget to multiply your square footage by 1.5 to get the total square footage to be stained. But for the example, we’re going to use a simply 150 LF x 6 ft tall fence.

In addition, when deciding to use a solid color stain or transparent stain.  Deciding on a solid color stain is a 2 coats system, so the number of gallons would be twice of what is needed for a transparent stain which is a 1 coat system.

For the purpose of the post, we took several brands and prices to give you an idea of what the price of wood stain will run you:

Transparent & Semi-Transparent Stain Estimates

Brand$ Per GallonCoverage (sq ft)Fence Sq FtEstimated GallonsCost
BEHR Premium$35.002501,8008$280.00
Olympic ELITE$37.002501,8008$296.00
PPG ProLuxe$48.002501,8008$384.00

*Pricing will be different depending on the product, location, retailer and sales tax.

Solid Color Stain Estimates

Brand$ Per GallonCoverage (sq ft)Fence Sq FootageEstimated GallonsCost
BEHR Premium$37.002501,80016$592.00
Olympic ELITE$38.002501,80016$608.00
PPG ProLuxe$48.002501,80016$768.00

*Pricing will be different depending on the product, location, retailer and sales tax.

Don’t Forget Other Supplies

Calculating the cost of fence staining is more than just how many gallons of stain or gallons of cleaner, you cannot forget any:

  • Brushes, Rollers, Masking tape, Tarps/Drop Cloths, Masking Paper, Paint Trays, Rags, Gloves, Etc.

Cost of Labor

Every fence staining company has different ways of calculating their labor costs.  Some contractors will do it by total square feet and some will calculate costs per hour or any other way.  To keep it simple, we’re going to show you a fair labor price broken-down per square foot.

A fence staining contractor may charge anywhere between $0.35 – $0.55 per square foot.

Let’s take the median price per square foot and say the labor cost breaks down to $0.45 per sq. ft.  Therefore, staining a 1,800 sq. ft. wood fence using a transparent (1 coat stain) should run approximately $810 for labor only cost.  However, most contractors build in the cost of materials and labor in a standard quote.

So what is a fair price for fence staining?

Since we’ve broken down the cost of the wood stain, the cleaner, established additional supplies needed and labor, let’s put it all together to see what a fair fence staining price could run:

Summary with Est. Labor Cost

ItemPriceCoverage (sq ft)Fence Sq FootageQtyCost
Flood Wood Cleaner$15.002501,8008$120.00
PPG ProLuxe Transparent$48.002501,8008$384.00
Other Supplies$100.00
Est. Labor Cost$0.451,8001,800$810.00

*Pricing will be different depending on the product, location, retailer and sales tax.

In our opinion, a fair price to hire a contractor to stain your fence may run you approximately $1,400 – plus or minus $200 or so. Estimates that come in below $1,200 or way above $1,600, should raise additional questions: for example – insurance, examples of work, testimonials, etc.

But the cost of labor, materials and where you live can change those figures as well. The cost of staining a fence on the east or west coast is significantly different than fence staining in Indianapolis, IN.

A good contractor wants you to be comfortable with your decision and should be able to help you with any clarifications on their processes.

Hiring A Fence Staining Company

When hiring a fence staining company, every company will have some different labor costs involved.  Also, keep in mind that a contractor can purchase the products cheaper. So if you are looking to hire a company to stain the fence, it’s generally cheaper to allow the company purchase the wood stain instead of the homeowner.  A contractor will also have all the equipment and supplies (sprayer, brushes, rollers, tape, drop cloths, etc. ) needed to complete the project.

For the Do It Yourself-ers or those who are curious in calculating the cost of staining a fence, hopefully, this will help clear up any confusion or misunderstanding when it comes to calculating how much staining a fence will run.

If you are looking for a fence staining company in Indianapolis or surrounding area to do the work for you, consider Legacy Painting!  You can call us at (317) 426-7228 or fill out the form to request your free estimate.

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