Tips For Painting And Staining Wooden Gates

For outdoor use, wood is one of the most robust, durable and attractive materials out there. But it’ll only perform if you take good care of it and one of the most important ways to maintain it is to paint or stain it. 

This will protect the wood from the elements and make it stronger, giving it a longer lifespan and keeping it stable. But there is something of a knack to painting and staining wooden gates so if you want to get it done properly, we have some brilliant tips. 

Why Is Painting Or Staining Wood So Important?

Wood is a natural material and that means that it is prone to rotting over time. When a tree falls in the forest, you will see it disintegrate before your very eyes since the wood is effectively dead. The same applies to the wood that has been used for your garden gates; it’s no longer alive so you need to treat it to ensure it doesn’t start to rot. 

Now, one of the great things about wood is that it won’t rot overnight; the process can take many years. But if you just leave it, the strength of the structure will begin to suffer from the moment that moisture gets in. 

Moisture is the main problem for outdoor wooden structures like gates, fences and even patio furniture. It’ll get inside the wood and create the perfect environment for mould spores to grow. 

By using a protective wood treatment such as a stain or paint, you’ll prevent this from happening as moisture won’t be able to get in as easily. 

Should I Paint Or Stain My Wooden Gates?

The great thing about wood treatments is that you have a choice. That said, both stains and paints are designed with the same end goal in mind; to protect the wood. Both do a great job at this but there are a few key differences to understand. 

Paints are ideal if you’re looking to enhance or change the colour of your gates. These products come in a whole host of shades so you can really find something that’ll fit in with the look of your garden. However, you should keep in mind that some wood paints affect the breathability of the timber which doesn’t help in the fight against moisture. 

Where paint sits on the surface of the wood, stain penetrates deep into it. This offers protection from the inside out which many people agree is better. That said, aesthetically speaking, you’re much more restricted on what you can achieve. 

You’ll find stain to be a better option if you don’t want to do as much work since you won’t need to do as much preparation. Moreover, you won’t need to apply a wood stain as often as a paint. Since paints can start to deteriorate in their appearance more quickly, you may find that you have to redo it every one to three years whereas you could get away with staining every five.

Our Top Tips For Painting Or Staining Wooden Gates

Now that you understand the importance of choosing the right product for your wooden gates, it’s time to start applying it. However, it’s no good going in all guns blazing and hoping for the best so here are some handy tips that’ll ensure a good, long lasting finish. 

Buy Good Quality Stain And Equipment

At a time where we’re all tightening the purse strings, you may find yourself tempted to buy a cheap wood stain. However, cheaper products don’t offer the same protection so you’ll just be wasting your money. 

These inexpensive wood paints and stains don’t have the same high quality ingredients so they don’t perform as well. While they might look OK when you first apply them, you’ll find that you have to do so much more frequently. 

On top of this, it’s worth considering the quality of your painting equipment. You don’t want to use a cheap brush whose bristles constantly fall out and get stuck in the wet paint. 

I’d recommend going for a more expensive brush that’ll give a high quality finish. Moreover, you should look at what the brush is designed to do. Just like anything else, there are certain brushes that are more suited to certain applications. For example, synthetic brushes are ideal for water-based products as they won’t soak up the paint. On the other hand, if you’ve opted for an oil-based stain, natural fibre brushes are the better choice. 

Stain Before Installing The Gates

If you try to paint or stain your wooden gates after you have installed them, this will prevent you from being able to cover all areas. Applying the product before you hang the gate will ensure the best coverage. What’s more, you’ll be able to properly paint the bottom of the gates that will be in contact with the ground. If you don’t correctly cover these then they’ll easily draw moisture up. 

Do The Whole Gate At Once

When you buy a wood stain or paint, you’ll notice on the instructions that it tells you to paint all sides of the gate equally and at the same time. You might think this isn’t necessary but I can’t stress how important this actually is. 

You see, when you apply paint or stain to just one side of the gate and leave it to dry, the surface tension across the entire thing changes and this can lead to the wood warping.

Paint In The Direction Of The Grain

Don’t paint across the grain of the wood.  If you do this, you’ll notice heavy brush marks all over the gate once the paint dries but this can be avoided by following the direction of the grain. 

It’s also really important to remove any drips or other imperfections as you paint because once it dries, they’re there for good and you don’t want to ruin the appearance of the gate. You may find that these techniques require a little more time but the final result will be worth it. 

Apply More Than One Coat

You probably want to get your gates stained or painted as quickly as possible but you must apply more than one coat of product if you want it to be most effective.

Yes, applying one coat will be much less time consuming but you’ll find that over the course of time, you don’t have the same level of protection. Plus, the appearance may not be as nice since there are more chances of drips when you don’t apply a second coat.

Also keep in mind that you should never apply a second coat on top of one that hasn’t dried. Leave enough time for the previous coat to dry properly before moving on. Doing this will mean that you don’t have to repaint the gates as often.


Wooden gates look beautiful and they’re super strong and durable. However, if you don’t take good care of them, they’ll soon rot and fall to ruin. Painting or staining your wooden gates not only makes them look wonderful but will provide them with much needed protection against the elements. 

When done correctly, a decent wood paint or stain could last between three and five years. But you’ll need to put in a little time and effort if you want such a long lasting result. These tips help you to get the most out of your chosen product. 

Driveway Expert