Pergolas, similar to arbors, are beautiful wooden structures that can provide shade on a patio, deck, or walkway. However, like any other wooden outdoor structure, it requires regular maintenance. Pergola staining is the best way to keep your pergola in good condition.
Is It Better to Paint or Stain A Pergola?
Wood stain is a transparent-to-translucent liquid that penetrates the wood creating a thin film. It shows the natural grain of the wood, highlighting its natural beauty. On the other hand, paint is an opaque semi-solid that completely covers the surface.
Remember, arbors and pergolas are an aesthetic installation. Mostly arbors but sometimes pergolas are often used to support climbing plants. So, you want it as natural as possible. Translation: it is better to stain rather than paint a pergola.
Besides, a wood stain is easier to apply compared to paint. When staining, you only need to apply one coat. On the other hand, painting requires priming and one or two coats. Additionally, paint peels off over time while stain wears off evenly.
What Is the Best Time to Stain an Arbor?
It depends on the climate. Generally, in warm climates (where snow is rare), late winter and early spring are the best times to stain an arbor. However, in cold climates, late summer and early fall provide better conditions for the treatment of outdoor wooden structures.
That said, before a pergola staining project, you should check an extended weather forecast. Check that it will not rain for the next two days and that temperatures will remain between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Prepare for Staining Your Arbor
The most important step of arbor staining is preparation. Without proper preparation, the pergola stain will not last long.
First, clean the surface. Remove dirt, dust, and mildew. Also check for surface damages and use sandpaper to correct them. It is at this stage that you should replace loose nails or damaged boards.
If you have not applied stain on your pergola before, use a wood cleaner to smoothen the cleaning process. However, if there’s an existing coat of stain, remove it using a deck stain stripper. The old stain will compromise the absorption of a fresh coat of stain.
The next step is applying a wood brightener, which reduces the darkening effect cleaning has on wood and also enhances the natural color of the wood. Besides, the acidic nature of wood brighteners opens wood pores, thereby enhancing the absorption of pergola stain.
The last step is washing the pergola with a pressure washer or garden hose. Allow at least two days for the wood to dry before applying the stain.
How to Stain A Pergola
After the pergola has dried, it is time to apply the stain. Choosing a quality product makes the application process easier and the results better. You will have an easier time using a water-based stain, though an oil-based stain is more durable. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Application is much more important for durability. Stain products have application instructions on the container. Check whether the product requires a brush, sprayer, or stain pad.
After getting the necessary supplies, plan the application process carefully. Start from the highest point of the arbor and work your way down. Avoid over-applying stain to avoid flaking and peeling issues. After the wood absorbs the stain, wipe off the excess.
Lap marks are an issue when using a brush or roller. You can easily avoid them by starting from one end of the board to the other. You should work on one board at a time.
Ideally, the stain should last two to five years. However, there’s no harm in re-staining sooner.