6 Tips for Restoring a Wood Fence

Whether you’re in the city, a rural area, or somewhere in between, a wood fence adds charm and character to any property. In addition to offering privacy and security, wood fences provide a uniquely natural aesthetic appeal that no other material can replicate.

For all their advantages, wood fences have one weak spot: over time, exposure to the elements can take a toll. Without proper maintenance, fading, cracking, or even rotting are commonplace. Fortunately, property owners can take steps to restore a wood fence’s appearance while extending its lifespan. This article covers six essential tips to help you rehabilitate your wood fence to its former glory.

1. Inspect and Repair

Before hitting the hardware store to gather materials for your refurbishing project, it’s critical to inspect your fence thoroughly. Clearly mark areas where you notice signs of damage, such as loose or broken boards, popped-out nails, or areas impacted by rot or insect infestation.

Once you’ve identified problematic areas, your next order of business should be replacing any damaged boards and securing loose nails or screws. Repair minor cracks or holes with wood filler where appropriate. Remember, ensuring your fence is structurally sound is the top priority before moving on to other steps.

 2. Clean the Fence

Over time, dirt, mold, mildew, and algae can accumulate on your fence, making it look worn down. Before anything else, removing these contaminants is essential to restoring it to its natural beauty.

Undoubtedly, the most efficient way to remove grime and stains is with a power washer, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you don’t have access to one, a scrub brush and a mixture of water and mild detergent, along with some good old-fashioned elbow grease, will also work. For particularly tough stains, consider using a specialized wood cleaner. After cleaning the surface, give your fence adequate time (typically 24-48 hours) to dry.

3. Sand the Surface

After you’ve washed your fence, it’s time to begin sanding the wood to smooth out rough spots and remove any remaining stains or old paint. For best results, use medium-grit sandpaper (around 80-100 grit).

In addition to creating a smoother surface, sanding opens up the wood grain, allowing it to better absorb the stain or sealant you’ll apply later. For your safety throughout the sanding process, wear a mask and safety glasses to protect yourself from dust and splinters. After sanding, wipe down the fence with a damp cloth to remove any leftover debris.

4. Apply a Wood Preservative

Every fence owner wants to protect their investment. Wood preservatives offer massive benefits by forming a barrier that defends your fence from rot, insects, and lingering moisture.

Do your homework before choosing a preservative; some may be better suited to your specific environment than others. For instance, if you live in a particularly humid area, you might want to opt for a preservative with a higher moisture resistance. Once you’ve made a selection, carefully review the manufacturer’s application instructions. In most cases, you’ll need a brush or sprayer to coat the wood evenly. Allow the preservative to dry completely, which may take a few hours to a few days, depending on the product used and weather conditions.

5. Stain or Paint the Fence

Now, let’s move on to the fun part—making your fence look great! In addition to enhancing the aesthetic appeal, a couple of layers of paint or stain will add protection against the elements. Step one is choosing a product designed for outdoor wood surfaces or even fences specifically. Stains are ideal for highlighting the natural beauty of the wood grain, while paint offers a broader range of color options that you can match with your home’s existing features.

Apply the stain or paint using a brush, roller, or sprayer, ensuring consistent coverage. Similar to painting a room inside your home, two coats are almost always better than one, even if the packaging states a single coat is sufficient.

6. Seal the Fence

Now that your fence is looking great, you want to preserve it for years to come! Sealing helps to lock in the stain or paint while providing extra protection against UV and moisture exposure that breaks down wood over time. It also helps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can be a common problem with untreated wood fences.

Choose a clear, weather-resistant sealant formulated for outdoor wood surfaces and apply it with a brush or sprayer. If possible, choose a time when it’s not supposed to rain for a day or two to give the sealant adequate time to dry.

Every Fence Project Starts at Mills

From large-scale commercial fence installations to DIY residential projects, Mills Fence has provided Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky customers with industry-leading materials and customer service for decades.

To learn how we can help you get the fence you’ve been dreaming about, contact Mills Fence today to discuss your unique fence needs.