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The Orange Fence is Gone!

Have a hideous orange fence? I couldn’t stand ours, and transformed it using a new grey-brown stain color by Behr. See how it looks, plus get tips for selecting the right fence stain color.

You know those home improvement projects that start out with good intentions but turn out to be a major miss? Since we moved into our home several years ago, our fence and I have not had a good relationship. We started out with a light grey fence along the back that the developer put in, and a simple cedar fence was added on either side of our house shortly after. It sounded like an alright idea at the time, but I didn’t realize it would turn out to cause me so much grief.

Staining a Cedar Fence - BEFORE

From the minute that fence went in, I hated it (such a strong word, but nothing else would suffice!). I didn’t want to stain it to match the grey, so I thought I’d try staining over the grey to match the cedar. ‘Natural Cedar’ stain sounded like the perfect solution.

It looked okay to start with, but when the sun was shining, it gave off a terrible orange glow. T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E! I almost didn’t want to look out my back window, and I’d cringe whenever I did! I ended up living with it for a while because at least it blended better with the cedar fence and looked a little more uniform. In addition, I wasn’t very excited about having to pull out the paint brush, yet again.

Getting Rid of the Orange Stained Fence - BEFORE

Transforming Our Orange Fence

After not being able to go one more year looking at my orange fence, I decided to finally do something about it. I knew it would be a big project, but it was worth it to me since we spend so much time in our backyard.

Is your fence stain too orange?

Finding the Right Stain Color

I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice, so I took finding just the right stain color very seriously.

One of the mistakes I made before was selecting the fence color only in the shade. This time I took a look at the colors throughout the day to see how they changed. Our back fence receives tons of natural light throughout the day since it’s south-facing.

After trying several stain samples from Benjamin Moore, I wasn’t getting the color I wanted, which was a grey-brown. For some reason, all of them had a purple undertone (not the change I was after!).

Comparing Behr Tugboat and Boot Hill Grey Stain Colors to Wood Chip on Fence

I then switched gears and tried two stain colors by Behr, as well as the leftover stain I used on our deck.

  1. I really liked the first color called Boot Hill Grey by Behr, but it clashed with the grey trim on our house and looked a little purple in the sun.
  2. The second color, Wood Chip by Behr, was too dark and didn’t provide any contrast to the deck. 
  3. The third stain option, called Tugboat by Behr, was perfect having the right balance between the color of our house, trim and deck (and if you refer to the photo, it looked a lot different than the orange next to it). I also liked how this color was similar in tone to our stepping stones.
Irregular Slate Stepping Stones from the Deck to the Patio
Fence Stain Colors - Behr Boot Hill Grey, Wood Chip and Tugboat

Tip: If you’re selecting an outdoor stain color, be sure to allow it to dry before you make a final decision.

Just look at how Behr Tugboat changed from wet to dry on our cedar fence. Pretty big difference!

Selecting Fence Stain - Wet vs. Dry Stain in Tugboat by Behr

Some links used in this post are affiliates. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.

How to Stain a Fence a Different Color

The next step was removing as much of the chipped paint, dirt and debris as possible. I used the pressure washer (standing back a good distance to avoid damaging the wood) and it worked like a charm. You can also apply a fence stain removing or brightening agent, but I preferred not to because they can be toxic and damage plants.

I allowed the wood to dry for a few days to ensure the moisture was out, then lightly scraped and sanded the whole thing.

How to Prep a Fence for Staining

Okay, now it’s finally time to stain the fence! Because I wanted the fence stain to last as long as possible, I selected the Behr Premium. It’s a bit more money, but well worth it.

For the cedar fence (along the sides), I went with Behr Tugboat semi-transparent stain. On the back fence, I used the Behr Tugboat solid fence stain (since that is what was originally used and the wood is a lower grade).

After several days of staining our fence, I am happy with the result. Not only does the fence look unified, but the color makes the plants and trees stand out. I like how the fence disappears and isn’t highly noticeable (like it was when it was orange).

Stained Cedar Fence with Tugboat by Behr

It amazes me that this corner of our yard is the same one as the first picture in this post. We’ve come a long way, Baby! (It looks like that lawn could use a good mowing, doesn’t it?)

Staining the Fence in Tugboat by Behr
Grey-brown Stained Cedar Fence with Tower Poplar Trees

I’m glad to finally be able to look out our windows and not cringe! I’m planning on giving the back fence one more light brush to rid the orange for good.

Keep in mind, Behr Tugboat does read a bit warmer when the sun shines directly on it.

Behr Tugboat Stain on Fence

Asking yourself, what color should I paint my fence? Be sure to pin this staining project for later.

Staining the Fence - Tips for Selecting the Right Color - Grey Brown Fence Stain

Do you have any projects that failed and need a redo? Are you finally ready to tackle something you’ve been putting off? Is your cedar stain too orange and you’re looking for new fence stain colors? Let me know in the comments!

Deck Stain Update

Trying to decide on a new deck color? We recently transformed ours from espresso to grey. It’s the perfect complement to our light grey house and grey-brown fence.

Want more paint colour suggestions like these sent directly to your inbox? Be sure to SUBSCRIBE.

Enjoy your day!

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


  1. Shauna,
    Your fence looks very nice. I know that was a huge undertaking.
    Just yesterday I was at Home Depot looking at the Flood Corp stuff for our fence. We have natural cedar with no stain but over the last 5 years its aged to the grey color, which I don’t really like. I want to bring back the natural look. Hopefully soon, as in this summer, we will get around to that project.
    Thanks for your sweet comments about my Adirondack chairs.

  2. Seeing your fence makes me want to hurry up and get mine done. I really love the color you selected!

  3. The color you chose was perfect! What a difference a little paint, or stain, can make! Enjoy it! And thanks for linking up!

  4. I LOVE the colour you picked… before reading through the post, that was the one my eye went to, but I wasn’t sure where you would end up. I think it’s just perfect, and you are so right, it doesn’t demand all the attention, but instead is strikes the right balance for a backdrop. Great tip as well, that if you’re not finding the colour you’re looking for, move on and try something else. Sometimes it’s so easy to get ‘stuck’ on a company, and forget it’s okay try something new!!!

  5. I googled “I hate my fence stain: and this post came up. Thank you so much. I also selected Natural Cedar from HD and can’t believe how much I dislike the color because it is too orange. We even stupidly put two coats on! I just got a new deck and am really torn about what to do because I have a fence color I hate, a different color play set and now a new deck that will need stain. My husband is going to freak out but I’m going to bite the bullet and repaint the fence. I will take a look at these colors you suggested. Your house is grey with white trim.

    1. I love that you googled that, ha ha! Yes, I did hate that fence colour and it’s time to stain it once again as some of that orange is starting to peek through after many years. I’ll likely go with the tugboat again (or something close). We stained our deck a medium grey (house is light grey with dark grey trim) and the backyard looks more unified. I think it’s best to keep the number of colors to a minimum if possible. Good luck :)

  6. Hi, The exact same thing happened to me just yesterday! The contractor painted a very light sample on my fence and said it would look like natural wood, just a hair darker. It looks like he used a red/orange/brown paint on the fence and it looks HORRIBLE! It’s the same brand as yours and is semi transparent. I HATE IT! I want to cry!!!! I always have my blinds open because I love to see outside. The blinds have been CLOSED since he did this! It’s horrible and I know my neighbors think I have the worst taste ever!!!! I am going to have to fix it and have no idea how.

    1. Oh no! I couldn’t stand ours before! Would you consider staining over the orange? I’m happy with the results we got using Behr’s Tugboat, but be sure to do several test samples in the bright sun and shade before you make a decision. Good luck :)

  7. Love the color of your fence! How did you apply the stain and is it oil or water based? We are in the process of having a new fence installed. Your color is exactly what i want. It looks a little taupe colored to me, which I love

    1. Hi Pat, Thank you! We used a brush since I wanted to get the best coverage (in between the boards and into the grooves). You could probably roll it on too. It’s an acrylic, which is nice since you can clean your brushes with soap and water. Best of luck!

  8. I too hate the color of my fence. We have a natural cedar fence that was recently stained with semi transparent Thompson Water Seal in Acorn Brown. It turned out much darker than expected and I cringe every time I look at it. Oddly enough Behr Tugboat was my top consideration, but was convinced to go another route.
    It is a huge undertaking to strip the color, wonder what would happen if I applied 2 coats of lighter stain on top?
    Would it a least neutralize the brown!
    Having just paid a painter to do this job, I’ll now have to be the labor for the second time around.

  9. What about a medium red brick house with white trim. My fence is pine and new and my old fence was painted a leaf green which I liked as still looked good as it would fade out over 4-5 years. It did blend in with nature but I don’t see that color now. So maybe a new color. Any comments on ideas?

  10. We just had a painter paint the solid color Tugboat, Behr Premium Waterproofing staing, on our cedar fence. First we powerwashed the bare cedar fence of course. Unfortunately our Tugboat does not look good. It looks pinkish purplish with some light brown. I spent a month testing colors and we have concluded that this Behr solid color stain has purple undertones that come out in variations depending on the age and condition and undertones of the cedar. Our Cedar fence has pink undertones.

    1. Sally, Thank you for the feedback. Our cedar had more of a red-orange undertone so came out warmer. Definitely no pink or purple! Good for readers to know. So important to test on several boards and in different lighting.

  11. Hi, I really love the new color of your fence. I’m deciding on the stain color for my fence and after some research your fence color was the closest to what I am looking for. So I got some samples and tried them on. The colors came out exactly like on your sample picture with numbers 1,2,3. But after drying they stay pretty much the same and I didn’t get the color your final fence came out to look. The Tugboat is still more brown and darker then brownish grey you got. My sample is premium and solid. Actually your color (and the color I am looking for) looks almost exactly like the posted official sample of boot hill grey. But when I tried it it came out just like on your sample picture: lighter, more grey and without brownish tone in it. Any suggestions how to get the color of your fence? Should I try semitransparent Tugboat or try to sample double coat? Thank you ?

    1. Hi Halina, On our back fence, I did 2 coats of Tugboat in solid premium. The color really changes in different lighting. So, perhaps, you are seeing only one version of it in my photos.
      The side fence is cedar with a coat of semi-transparent. It definitely looks a little more grey. I think the type of wood you have + stain finish + lighting all make a huge difference in how it comes out. Also, if you have any sort of reflection from buildings, trees, etc., that will change it too. Maybe you can try mixing half and half Boot Hill Grey and Tugboat?

  12. Hi! Fence looks great! I know this was awhile ago, but I’m having trouble with the Behr color chart not looking anything like your photos! We are looking for a true taupe semi-transparent stain for wood accents on our house. Don’t really want to buy a lot of stain in the wrong color to try them out! The tugboat color you used looks perfect on line but on the color chart it looks very yellowish. The pewter on the color chart looks taupe, but someone else posted a project using that color and it looks very gray. Is the tugboat a true gray/brown (taupe)? Thanks!

    1. Hi Christine, What kind of wood is it? Was it previously stained or is it new wood? What kind of lighting (face N, S, E or W)?

      Our side fence, which is cedar, already had a natural cedartone stain on it before we went over it with the Tugboat in semi-transparent. I really don’t find the colour chart in Behr’s guide to resemble even close to how ours came out. That’s why I think you truly have to test the colours using actual sample pots on your wood. So many factors influence how it comes out.

      Our neighbours just stained their deck and it doesn’t look very close to what the colour chart looked like, but they didn’t test ahead of time. They’re disappointed with how dark it came out.

      Solid stain, on the other hand, usually resembles very close to the colour chart because it basically takes the wood grain and undertone out. Our back fence is done in solid stain because it was builder-grade wood. It looks pretty much identical to the Tugboat solid chip.

      On another note, I think you can get stains mixed in other colours than what they show in their pamphlet, so be sure to ask and consider those options. Hope this helps :)

      1. Hi! I can’t believe how helpful this is. Like another poster, I googled something like “Hate my orange wood stain. How to fix?” and this came up. Mine is not a fence or deck but a large bench sectional I had someone make for my patio. It arrived yesterday and the stain I chose – also Cedar Natural – looks horrible. It’s a glowing orange.

        Question: as this piece is new and not dirty at all yet, do you think I can go over it with the Tugboat semi-transparent without any sanding or pre-washing? Other info: the wood used was not cedar but a very light elm (cheap) almost white wood. The orange stain was done in semi-transparent finish.


        1. Hi Julie, You may want to give it a light sanding so the stain will adhere better. Perhaps you can try a test patch on the underside to see how is looks beforehand? The type of wood really does make a difference on how the colour appears. Good luck :)

  13. Hello Shauna,’

    I am thinking to use the same stain for my deck. How durable is this stain on your fence. I saw some negative review about Behr stain.
    Appreciate your feed back,

    1. Hi Dina, We did do Behr solid stain on our deck several years ago and it lasted quite a long time. We changed it because the dark colour showed dirt and water spots too much. It really depends on the type of wood, how it’s prepped, as well as the finish (solid or semi-transparent). Behr has held up remarkably on our fence after several hail storms and winters. However, I’m not sure what it would be like on a horizontal surface that gets wear and tear.

      You can see our old deck stained in solid Behr in this post.

  14. Hi Shauna, your fence looks great with that stain!! How has your wood fence held up over the years? We currently have an old, orange fence that I have been looking forward to getting rid of for several years. I’m finally having a contractor install a new fence in my yard in a few weeks, but I’m still debating between getting a wood fence or a composite fence that I don’t have to stain and maintain as much.

    1. Hi Sarah, Our cedar fence still looks fantastic after 16 years. We have stained it 3 times (and only because I didn’t like the original colour). Composite is pretty much maintenance-free, but I have heard it can fade over time. Also, it’s a larger investment. Either way, there are pros and cons. It often comes down to price and the look you’re going for. When it comes to decks, I highly recommend composite because the stain often doesn’t hold up very well.

  15. Please help,
    We just finished installing a new horizontal redwood fence, we wanted to stain it to keep the natural color variation, we chose the Behr stain at 50% color lighter. My contractor applied the stain with a paint gun, and of course we we not hone at the time and the whole fence is pumpkin orange now, clearly Home Depot did not mix the paint correctly because it’s no where close to the sample we had please help, it’s a 195 foot fence.
    What can I do to tone it down or what stain do you recommend, because I still have to fence opposite to it nor painted, what are your recommendations to get both fences to match. Please, I spend so much money on this fence snd now it’s orange????????????

    1. Hi Mary, Did you test the stain color on the wood before it was applied? How did it look then? Which stain color did you use from Behr? Redwood is usually quite a bit darker than natural cedar so I’m curious.

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