DIY projects

How to stain an old wooden gate

Staining a tired timber gate will instantly add to the street appeal of your home, and it’s a DIY project that can be easily done in a few hours. In this Weekend DIY Fix episode, Nelson-based builder Chris Donnelly shows you how to fix and restrain a wooden gate.

Before you stain an old weathered gate, always clean it well first. Wood stains are semi-transparent which means you can see any marks or timber grain through the new wood stain. Make sure your timber is well cleaned before you stain to avoid old stain marks or grubby areas showing through.

To refresh your timber gate, follow our MasterStroke by Resene guide.


Remove moss and mould

Take the gate off its hinges and treat with Resene Moss & Mould Killer using a garden sprayer or spray bottle. Remember to wear a safety mask and gloves when applying this product. Leave for 48 hours so it can soak into the timber and then give it a good scrub before rinsing with water.


Wash and repair

Wash the gate with Resene Timber and Deck Wash to remove any dirt and open up the pores of the wood to help absorb the stain. When the timber is dry, fix any parts of the gate that need repairing with an exterior wood compound product such as Repair Care Dry Fix.


Apply stain

Use good quality painter’s tape to mask up any parts of the gate you wish to protect, such as hinges or latches. Apply Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain using a medium-sized brush. Allow the stain to penetrate into the timber. You’ll need at least two coats – make sure you allow enough time for the stain to dry between coats.

Top tip: When staining a fence or gate, it’s sometimes a good idea to use a cutting-in brush to access tricky parts, such as the gaps between the pickets. Stain these hard-to-reach parts before staining the main panels. Prop the unhinged gate against a bench in order to stain both sides of the gate. If you don’t have a bench, use a plank of wood propped up on two paint pails.


You're done

Now it is time to rehang the gate, then step back and admire your work.

Choose the right product

Resene wood stains usually need restaining every two summers. Although an exterior paint such as Resene Lumbersider Low Sheen will last longer, one advantage of choosing wood stain is that maintenance is often a lot quicker than repainting. Often all that is required is a quick wash before reapplying fresh stain, whereas if paint is left too long between repainting it may require sanding back to remove peeling paint – a big job.

If your gate was previously stained this may dictate the type of stain you use to restain – head to your local Resene ColorShop for advice if you’re not sure what type to use. Resene Waterborne Woodsman is a multipurpose stain available in a wide range of colours, and can be used on weatherboards as well as smaller projects such as fences and gates. This Eco Choice approved product contains fungicides to help inhibit growth and prevent future damage from mould, and also helps protect timber against UV damage. 

Resene Woodsman Wood Oil Stain is another option which gives a more traditional wood oil look, allowing the grain of the timber to show through. This product is often used on more weathered surfaces as the solventborne stain can penetrate the timber better. Both Resene Woodsman products come in Resene CoolColour variants, which reflect heat and keep the timber cooler in the summer sun. Resene CoolColours are a particularly good idea when using dark stain colours such as Resene Woodsman Dark Oak, Resene Woodsman Shadow Match or Resene Woodsman Crowshead. Resene CoolColours can also help reduce the incidence of cupping and warping of timber.

Stand out or blend in?

When choosing a colour for your gate, there are many factors to consider. Often gates are painted or stained in contrasting colours to help guide guests to exits and entryways in your yard or garden. Using a red stain such as Resene Woodsman Whero or Resene Woodsman Japanese Maple on your gate may make a lovely contrast to a fence stained in a dark colour such as Resene Woodsman Pitch Black

You may, however, wish to disguise your gate by making it blend in with the fence or house exterior. Dark colours such as Resene Woodsman Crowshead or Resene Woodsman Pitch Black will make garden greenery pop, and when used on weatherboards will give a modern architectural look. For a soft Scandi look, you could try Resene Woodsman Whitewash or a soft natural colour such as Resene Woodsman Driftwood or Resene Woodsman Natural

Top tips: 

  • Apply Resene Woodsman stains by following the grain of the timber. 
  • Maintain a wet edge by making sure that the last stroke of stain doesn’t dry before the next stroke is applied. 
  • Stain the project in small sections to avoid visible lines and lap marks.
  • Avoid staining in the middle of the day in direct sunshine as the stain may dry too quickly.

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