Guys, I was away for way longer than expected. Last week, I made my annual trek back home to see me ma and pa, as well as my best friend and her adorable baby. Great visits took up every day, but like most vacations, it was way too short.
But on the plus side, my lil picket fence is stained and lookin’ pretty. I have to admit, the fence took way longer to stain than I expected. I’ve come to realize that I have a very poor grasp of how long projects will take. With the pickets, for example, I planned one night for sanding all the rough edges and one night for staining.
And the universe laughed so hard, it ripped its pants.
Sanding took all of half an hour. I was mainly focused on smoothing out the “hang nails” and any remaining jagged edges. Afterwards, the fence got a thorough hosing off to wash away all the dust and bird poops that had already started to accumulate. Then, onto the staining!
If you have a large outdoor paint or stain project, I would 100% recommend getting a little powered paint sprayer. They aren’t perfect, but they will save you time. I got this Graco years ago (out of stock – but you can probably find a better one) and it sat unused until I built my pergola in 2016. There was no way I could get all the nooks and crannies with a paint brush.
Similarly, Senorita Graco also came in handy while staining my fence.
I’ve never used a solid stain before. To be honest, I didn’t even realize they existed until right before I bought one! But the pickets ended up being such uneven shades that I needed something relatively opaque. Paint has a reputation for peeling, chipping, and coming off in all sorts of ugly ways. Voila, the solid stain!
An important thing to note: I wanted to have the fence stained within a week of installing the pickets. I’ve only ever built fences in south Louisiana, so other regions may vary. However, we have so much humidity and heat and so many insects that even pressure treated pickets will start to show weathering very quickly.
Much to the chagrin of my dad, I frequent Lowes because it’s nearby and I get a veterans discount. Fortunately, I wanted a basic white stain – I say “fortunately” because there weren’t a ton of options available in-store. The solid stains were all similarly priced, so I went with a gallon the fanciest: Olympic ELITE. The white color is called “Avalanche.”
It’s supposed to have super-duper climate protection and durability, so we’ll see. Here’s a disclaimer, though: I didn’t 100% follow the directions. You’re supposed to use 2-3 coats for the stain to really be truly opaque and off the full protection. After one coat, I was ready to be totally done. I think the fence has a cute vintage look to it, and if my fence falls apart sooner than expected, I’ll know to use two coats next time.
The pickets had different absorption rates, which accounts for some variation in color. However, They’re all close enough that the pickets look like a finished set (rather than a project in-process).
Is my fence perfect and even? Heck no. But I really, really love it. I never thought of myself as a “white picket fence” kind of person, but I really do find it charming. Coming home to this sweet little fence and garden every day makes me very happy.
One part where I reeeally kinda messed up was setting a few of the fence posts on the right-hand side. You can’t tell from the above picture, but I set the first several and got nervous about property lines*. I figured I’d subtly and diagonally guide the fence line more into my property.
*My neighbors are super cool and have helped guide escapee ducks and chickens back into my yard. They probably wouldn’t have cared about too much fence, but I didn’t want to cause any problems in the future.
Hrm. Well. The fence line didn’t not exactly end up being subtle. I didn’t realize how unsubtle it looked until the rails and pickets were in place. I was not willing to rip everything apart and redo it. Therefore, I decided to get some vines.
As my main flower colors are yellow, orange, and pink, I wanted a vine with yellow flowers, then one with orange, and finally, pink. The yellow and pink were super easy. Mandevilla grows great in my yard. It dies back a bit come winter, so the vine should grow lush without every totally taking over. I’m still on the hunt for a vine with orange flowers, though. The main contender seems to be honeysuckle and other creeping vines, which are notoriously invasive. I don’t want to introduce something that’ll require significant wrangling in years to come. Ideally, the vines will grow over the fence and balance out or obscure the, er, less even bits.
So does this mean we’re done with Operation: Chaos into Beauty??? Eh, mostly. I’m still slowly adding plants (guys, I know I’m trying to budget, but it’s thrilling to wandering through a nursery and actually “need” plants). The walkways also need to be finished with sand and gravel. But yeah, all the main structural stuff is done. Hooboy.