How long does fence stain need to dry before rain?

If you just bought and installed a new fence, we understand that you are really eager to stain it to preserve it for the longest time possible. But settle down and learn some rules before you start the process. Do you know how long does fence stain need to dry before rain?

This is a piece of vital information you should be aware of before staining your fence. Because rain before enough drying will distort the stain on your fence. So, for your information, the fence will need 4-6 hours for water-based stain and 12-24 hours for oil-based stain before the rain.

And also remember you must give the fence at least 24 hours of rain-free time before you apply stain. Then apply the stain after checking the rain forecast. We will further discuss this topic with all the information you will need.

How Long does Fence Stain Need to Dry Before Rain

It depends on the type of pain. Let’s see the type and longevity of the pain when getting contacted with the rainwater.

Rain Versus Stain

Rain is not a friend of paint. If the paint or stain doesn’t get enough to get dry the rain will distort it. Because stain forms a layer on the fence and it takes time. The atoms of the stain bond with each other and also with the atoms of the fence. Rainwater gets between this process and breaks the bonds.

This way either the stain will be distorted and become lighter. Or the whole layer of stain will come off the fence. And that’s a shame. So, you need to be careful about rain. Don’t take it for granted.

Water-based or Latex Stain

This type of paint performs better against rain. Water-based paints are not flammable and dry quickly. 4-6 hours of drying time should save water-based paint from the rain. So, make sure of that. Cypress, redwood, cedar timbers are good with water-based stains.

How long does fence stain need to dry before rain

Oil-based stain

This type of stain is better with direct sunlight, rain, or wind. Oil-based stains penetrate the wood quite deep and stay longer. But the downside is it takes quite a long time to dry. It needs 12-24 hours depending on the location to dry well before it starts to rain. 

What Happens if it Rains on a Freshly Stained Fence?

As we have mentioned earlier, rain is no friend of stain. It damages the freshly done stain. As the stain needs time to form a layer hugging the fence, any disturbance in the process damages the stain. There are pores on the fence that the stain uses to hold on to the fence. Rainwater blocks the pores. So, the stain doesn’t stick.

The amount of rain decides how much damage will be done. Light and gentle rain cause a lot lesser damage to the stain than heavy rainfall that can completely ruin it. The signs of damage you will see for light or heavy rains also differ.

Light Rain Damage

Very little rain might not even cause any significant damage to the stain. The stain may become lighter in some places that can be easily fixed with a re-staining. The stain shouldn’t come off the wood surface because of light rain. 

Heavy Rainfall Damage

This is quite a curse for a freshly stained fence. The stain can be heavily damaged. The surface will look splotchy. Paint will spill off or come off the fence. The fence will look like it was never stained or very badly stained. The damages can be spread over a large area. Or it can create small damages everywhere.

What to do if it Rains on a Freshly Stained Fence?

The first thing you need to do is to estimate the amount of damage that has been done. Then depending on the amount and type of damage, you can try some tricks to fix it. Let’s discuss them.

  • If the problem is in form of pockets, blemishes, or white spots, you can probably fix it by applying a second coat of stain. It should fill up the gaps created by the rain. 
  • Or if the second coat doesn’t cover up the spots, then you can try to remove them. Use wood cleaner mixed with a pressure washer on the damaged spots and see if that removes the unwanted problem from the fence. Be careful or you will peel off the stain too. 
  • Another idea is to do some sanding on the spots and apply the second coat. It will help the second coat stick to the surface. Do not over-sand the spots or the stain will flake or peel off in big chunks.
  • If all these ideas fail to produce the result you want, then there is only one thing left to do. Use a deck stain stripper and remove the stain completely from the fence. When it’s completely removed, do the staining all over again. This is the worst possible scenario.


Let’s see some commonly asked questions about the main topic.

Does rain ruin fence stains?

Yes, it does. Depending on the amount of rain, it can damage the stain on a fence from little to very bad. The stain needs time to stick to the wood surface. It forms a layer hugging the wood using the pores on the wood. The rainwater comes between this process and the stain peels off here and there because it cannot remain stuck anymore.

How long does stain take to dry outside?

For exterior stains for example fence stains will need a quite good amount of time to dry. It depends on the location and the type of stain being used. Latex or water-based stains will take from 4-6 hours to dry enough and oil-based stains will take 12-24 hours. But stain should be given 24-48 hours to dry completely.


You can now stain your fence without any fear of damage. Because now you know how long does a fence stain need to dry before the rain. So, be careful about rain while staining your fence. Be informed about the possibility of rain in your area and only stain if you can give it enough time to dry.

The matter of rainwater damaging the stain shouldn’t be taken lightly. Because it may cause enough damage so that you will have to do the staining all over again. It is a loss of time and money. So, to save both your time and money make sure the stain gets enough time to dry before the rain. 

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