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Fence Stain 101: How to Make an Old Fence Look New

Wood Fence OregonMaybe you haven’t had time to stain your new wood fence, or maybe you inherited a fixer-upper fence on your property. Whatever the situation may be, restoring your fence to its former glory is less complicated than it seems. Follow these simple steps before applying a new coat of deck stain to ensure a professional-looking job:

Step 1: Prep Work. To start, assess your wood fence’s current condition. Is it:

  • Showing its age with a gray tint?
  • In need of serious repair?
  • Exhibiting broken boards, sagging posts or loose rails?

Make any necessary repairs before staining your fence. You should also check for failing nails and splintering wood, as they’re a common cause of backyard cuts and minor injuries.

Step 2: Deep Cleaning. Now that the fence is structurally sound, it’s time to give it a good cleaning. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A wood brightener or bleach-based wood cleaning mixture to kill insects, mold, fungi and any other natural agents of decay that have taken up residence in your fence.
  • Plastic sheeting to spread on the ground under your fence to protect your lawn from chemicals in the cleaners.
  • A thick-bristled brush to evenly work the cleaning solution into the fence.
  • Gloves and goggles to protect yourself.

Step 3: Pressure Washing. Once the fence is clean, give it a good rinse. Renting or buying a pressure washer is a great way to wash the remaining bits of dirt off of your fence. Make sure you:

  • Read the manual first and set the pressure (psi) to a lower setting that won’t damage the wood. Be especially careful if you have a cedar fence, since cedar is a soft wood and can be damaged by setting the pressure washer too high.
  • For extra safety, set the pressure washer’s nozzle setting to as wide as possible. Fanning out the spray of water dilutes the pressure and can help you rinse your fence quickly and evenly.

Now that your wood fence is repaired, cleaned, and rinsed, it’s time to apply a protective coat of stain. In the next Fence Stain 101, we’ll show you how to apply a custom fence stain designed to keep your fence protected for years.

Fence Stain 101 is a three-part series offering professional tips for staining your wood fence. This is the first installment.

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