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Staining a pergola

Pergolas Staining

Pergolas are popular outdoor wood structures that add character and beauty to any landscape.

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

Overview on How to Stain a Pergola

To keep the structure looking beautiful, proper finishes should be applied. The project will take time to plan. Do it right the first time to enjoy your outdoor structure for years to come. The following tips will help your project.



Preparing and cleaning the surface is one of the most important parts of the staining process. Follow these simple steps to ensure your job looks great and lasts for years to come.

It is important to have a well-prepared surface. Proper preparations make the biggest difference in finish and durability. For staining a pergola, make sure the surface is free of dirt, dust, mildew, mold, etc. Also check for dark yellow or gray wood, which are signs of UV damage.



Check damaged boards that may need to be replaced or repaired. If necessary, make any fixes.



Remove furniture, flowers pots, barbecue grill, and tables etc. that are near the pergola so the working area is clear. Close all windows and doors on that side of the house. Are there plants or veins growing on the pergola? Consider the time of year to avoid damaging plants.



Pressure wash the pergola surface and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. Examine all the wood and make sure it is clean. Hand sand areas that need additional attention.



Now that you've completed the prep work, you're ready to begin staining.

Choose a quality stain. Determine how much you will need for the project and what color will look the best. Understand if you want an oil or water-based product. Each provides equal protection and will have different clean-up procedures and prices. In general water-based products will go on thinner and may need additional coats to get the same protection as oil-based products.



Cover nearby areas of the house and make sure stain won’t get on the siding or on the deck/patio. Using a spray shield or piece of cardboard will block any stain from getting to unwanted areas. Selecting a Wagner Control Spray will provide superior control and low overspray and quality results.



Select the right paint or stain sprayer for the job.  Start spraying on cardboard or scrap wood to get a feel for the sprayer and flow settings. Once you are comfortable, work in a consistent pattern and cover the surface. Clean up the sprayer and properly store any remaining material.



Maintenance saves you time and money, in the long run. Check your pergola’s during the spring and fall for wear and fading, and maintain according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most quality outdoor stains will require a maintenance coat every two to four years. Performing easy routine maintenance where and when it’s needed will extend the life of your structure.

Products Used


Drop Cloth

Screw driver


Replacement boards


Safety glasses

Pressure Washer



Touch-up brush

Extension cord

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