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I'm looking to stain my outdoor yard fencing. The white cedar fencing is about 12 yrs old, in good shape, and is now a light grey color. What would be the most efficient way to stain the fence? I have about 350 feet of fencing for the project.

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    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. It's not entirely clear what you're asking here, are you asking about process or materials, or a bit of both? Also, do you just want to improve the appearance (i.e. you don't like the natural grey colour of weathered wood) or do you want to change the colour of the fence to something specific? If it is the former have a look at this previous Answer to see what washing alone can achieve.
    – Graphus
    Nov 30 '20 at 8:47
  • I agree that the question could use some clarification, but I'm going to answer focusing on the "efficient" part of the question. Nov 30 '20 at 17:49
  • This has almost certainly been answered here already. There is some Q&A about siding that talks about not finishing at all vs. setting up a trough you "dip" boards in.
    – jdv
    Dec 1 '20 at 20:23
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Focusing on efficiency, I would pressure wash and then apply whatever finish you choose with an airless sprayer.

Per @graphus I would start by pressure washing the fence, since this may improve the appearance significantly, and a thorough cleaning should be done prior to any application of finish. Pressure washing will be faster by far than any manual process. You will, however, have to wait for the wood to dry out before re-finishing it.

For applying finish efficiently (in terms of time) nothing will beat an airless sprayer. They move material out much faster than HVLP or conventional air spray guns. Airless sprayers can also spray higher viscosity coatings like latex paint, which HVLP really can't do. The clean-up and maintenance is a little annoying, and you end up wasting the material in the hose, but it is far faster than brushing or rolling, particularly in a situation like this where the surface isn't flat.

You will also have to consider overspray and "bounce-back", but since this is an outdoor situation the masking required should probably be minimal. If the fence is near pavement, trees, buildings, or anything else you don't want painted then it will need to be masked off appropriately.

Also note that you will need a sprayer tip that is appropriate for your material. Most quality coatings will include information about tip size. The tips are consumable and will need to be replaced every 10-20 gallons.

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    Could you explain why you suggest an airless sprayer instead of other options like HVLP? What makes airless more "efficient" (in either time or material) than others?
    – Caleb
    Nov 30 '20 at 20:20
  • Yeah, I meant in terms of time. HVLP is probably the best in material efficiency. I've clarified my answer. Nov 30 '20 at 20:42
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    Great Answer! The only thing I'd take issue with is sort of a throwaway comment, that HVLP can't spray latex paint. Not at all difficult to find examples of people using it for exactly that type of paint.
    – Graphus
    Dec 1 '20 at 8:29
  • I didn't really want to get into detail there, but you're right. If you're able to thin it or if you're using a more powerful turbine system with a pressure cup (vs the "automotive" style guns with gravity or siphon cups) then you can spray latex paint with HVLP. Also the more expensive latex paints tend to be thicker for better coverage, so the cheaper products are typically easier to spray. Dec 1 '20 at 16:40
  • Yup. In addition, it's been my experience spraying that almost anything can be thinned more than the manufacturers state is acceptable in order to get it to work, i.e. you thin it until it does. Sometimes thinning way beyond the claimed max dilutions is doable while still achieving acceptable results. Obviously at the end of the day it does come down to the specific paint, some paints of this type are finer than others — if you run into larger particles of pigment, filler or opacifier in the mix that's a brick wall that maybe can't be overcome.
    – Graphus
    Dec 2 '20 at 7:18

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