Do you need to clean a fence before staining? Cleaning a wooden fence is an essential step before you can proceed with staining your perimeter enclosure. The layers of dirt, grime, algae, and other surface contaminants can prevent the wood from absorbing the stain. This means any top coat you apply on your fence can peel away quickly due to poor adhesion.
If you want your stain to last longer, cleaning your fence before applying any stain is best. In this guide, you’ll learn how to clean a wooden fence before staining, the techniques you should apply, and which tools you should use.
Do You Need to Clean a Fence Before Staining?
Some homeowners mistakenly believe that since the wood used for their fence is pressure treated, it no longer requires any cleaning. Some even think pressure washing or power washing pressure-treated wood will cause severe damage.
On the contrary, pressure washing, and any form of cleaning, will benefit your fence. Pressure-treated wood will need regular maintenance to continue repelling insects and prevent algae growth. The wood won’t withstand long-term damage and corrosion without proper cleaning.
How to Clean a Wooden Fence Before Staining
There are several ways to clean a fence during regular maintenance. You can manually clean it, which will take a long time to complete. The better option is to pressure wash your fence. In the steps provided below, you’ll learn how to clean a wooden fence before staining using two different methods.
If you don’t have a pressure washer, you must allow more time to clean your fence. You also need to apply plenty of elbow grease to clean everything thoroughly.
You’ll need the following to get the job done manually:
- Work clothes
- Safety goggles
- Brush (with handle recommended)
You can use commercial fence cleaners that you can buy in stores. Combine two gallons of water with one and a half cups of commercial fence cleaning solution.
However, you also have the option to use homemade cleaners. You can make a DIY fence cleanser by combining 1 cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of water. Next, add dish soap to the mixture. Make sure to mix everything well until all the ingredients are sufficiently blended.
If you find mold, algae, and mildew on the wood, you can add a diluted bleach solution to your fence cleaner. Combine two parts bleach with one part water to make the bleach solution. Apply this solution to your fence before using the fence cleaner.
After applying the bleach solution:
- Dip your brush or sponge in the cleaning solution.
- Scrub each board one at a time.
- Let the cleanser sit on the wood for about three to five minutes, then rinse it.
- Move to the next set of boards and repeat the same process.
Using a Pressure Washer
Before cleaning wooden fences with a power washer:
- Wear your safety gear.
- Fill the power washer with the recommended amount of water.
- Attach your garden hose to the pressure washer.
- Connect the high-pressure hose from the power washer to the spray wand.
Now that your pressure washer is ready, the next step is to turn it on and set the appropriate pressure. The pressure level will depend on the wood used to construct your fence. Set the pressure to 500 to 600 psi when working with soft wood such as pine or cedar. When working with harder wood, set the psi from 1,200 to 2,000.
The goal is to use the least amount of pressure necessary to remove dirt and gunk from your fence. Start with a lower psi and adjust to a higher level if you need more pressure to wash away dirt. Using too much pressure can damage your wooden fence.
When you spray your fence, start from the top, going down on each board. Work on small areas of the board until they are thoroughly cleaned. Aim your sprayer at an angle or use a 25-degree nozzle. Keep the nozzle three feet away from the panels but move in closer to one to two feet to get rid of hard-to-remove dirt.
It’s vital to keep the wand moving. Aiming too long at a single point can damage wooden surfaces. Once you’re done with one section, turn off the washer and check to ensure everything is spotless. Next, move to the next section of your fence, repeating the same steps until all the boards have been cleaned.
If you find mold, mildew, and algae while washing, you must stop and apply the bleach solution described earlier. You may have to brush stubborn mildew to remove them altogether. Once you’ve dealt with these contaminants, continue pressure washing. When you’re done, allow the fence to air dry before applying any stain. The best time to clean and stain a wooden fence is during summer.
Get Professional Help to Get the Job Done Quickly
At NorTex Fence, we understand that some homeowners don’t have the time or experience cleaning and staining wooden fences. We have seasoned professionals who can get the job done quickly and efficiently, improving your home’s curb appeal. Call 972-382-7800 today or fill out this contact form to get a free estimate.