A clean fence enhances the appearance of your home. Cleaning the fence yourself is simple enough with a garden hose and some household cleaners, but a power washer is more effective.
When using a power washer, be sure to stand back about two feet and use long, even strokes. Too much pressure can damage the wood or other surfaces. You’ll be glad you read this!
Clean the Fence
Your fence can collect a lot of dirt, mildew, and mold, which not only looks bad but may irritate your skin and trigger allergies. A dirty, mildew-covered fence can also let spores enter your home, which can lead to health problems for you and your family.
Use a detergent designed for your type of fence (e.g., wood, vinyl) and a hose that has a lower-to-medium pressure capability. You can even use a metal scrub brush that has a long handle and coarse bristles for scrubbing.
Some people try to clean their fences by hand with warm water and household cleaning products, but if the dirt is caked on, it might be easier to rent a power washer for the job. Using a power washer to clean your fence will save you time, but it’s important to take safety precautions because the pressure can damage the surface and plants around the fence. Cover any bushes or flowers next to your fence with plastic sheets or drop cloths before you begin.
Scrub the Fence
Once the wood is dry, sand down any areas of the fence that are scratched or indented. This is also a good time to fix any broken spots or loose boards.
The next step is to apply the cleaning solution. Make sure that your plants are covered and protected from the bleach, as well as any other toxins in your cleaning solution (or in your power washer). Work on sections of the fence at a time. This helps to ensure that you don’t accidentally damage the surrounding landscape with too much detergent or pressure.
The key to effective scrubbing is to use the right tool for the job. A broom will work for most dirt, but for moss and mildew, you’ll need to use a brush with a bit of elbow grease or a scrubber. If you have a tough spot to clean, try using a diluted vinegar and baking soda mixture. The vinegar acts as a mild acid to break down the mildew, and the baking soda helps scrub it off the surface.
Sand the Fence
If your fence is new, sanding it before staining can help to ensure an even surface. If you are staining a painted fence, this will also help to remove any flaking paint. Staining is best done in the late fall or early spring when the weather is mild and the humidity is low. This will allow the stain to dry evenly.
A good quality wood stain will protect your fence from the elements and prevent deterioration. Whether you choose an oil-based or water-based stain, you will need to apply several coats and touch up the stain every few years to maintain its appearance.
Before you start cleaning or staining, be sure to take the time to mow the lawn and trim any bushes or vines that are in contact with your fence, as they will be exposed to pressure washer detergent and could be damaged by its toxic chemicals. You should also move any outdoor furniture away from the area to avoid the toxins.
Pressure Wash the Fence
A thorough cleaning of your fence will help to prevent paint and stain peeling. The best way to do this is with a pressure washer. However, this power tool can damage surfaces if you use it incorrectly, and many hardware stores have long wait times for rentals. This is why hiring a professional might be a better option if you want your fence to look great.
Before you begin washing, make sure to wear eye protection. Debris may fly off the surface and a misdirected spray can harm your eyes. Also, cover or remove any plants that could be harmed by the pressured water. Finally, set up a tarp or some other barrier around the base of your fence to catch any runoff.
Once you have prepared the detergent, start on a small area and work panel by panel. Remember to rinse as you go to avoid leaving any soap on the wood. It is important to wait for the wood to dry completely before staining. Continue reading the next article.