FAQ When Cleaning Cedar Fences

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Cleaning Cedar Fences

A cedar fence is a beautiful addition to a home; however, that beauty can fade over the years if the fence isn’t properly cared for and cleaned. If left without care, the fence can turn a grayish color due to exposure of natural elements, warp, and/or rot. If dirt becomes built up on the fence, the cedar can decrease in water resistance from lack of natural oils. Pressure washing your cedar fence and then applying a stain is the best way to keep your fence in its best condition, giving your yard the beauty it deserves. That being said, here are some frequently asked questions in regards to cleaning cedar fences.

  1. Which is better for the job, renting or buying a pressure washer?
    • This depends on your budget. Many places allow you to rent a pressure washer from $40-$75 a day, but there are also basic models for sale ranging in price from $70-$200 based on capacity and size. Home models that run off of gas range from $300-$1,000. No matter which option you choose, be cautious when cleaning. Wear rubber gloves, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or possibly damaged, and safety glasses (the water stream from a pressure washer can be dangerous). Be mindful of neighbors’ outdoor furniture and plants if your fence separates your yard from theirs.
  2. How do I use a pressure washer?
    • You will want to begin by using 500-800 psi with a 25-degree nozzle tip. Find the amount of pressure you need by adjusting, but use no more than 1,500 psi. Too much pressure can cause the cedar to splinter. Test out the equipment until you’re comfortable with regulating the water stream. Once you’re standing in front of the fence, take a few steps back; stay at least 18 inches away to prevent damage. While keeping the nozzle in a horizontal position, begin at the top of the fence and move your way down in long sweeping motions, following the grain of the wood. Don’t spray in one spot for a prolonged period of time.
  3. When can I make repairs to the fence after it is clean?
    • Wait at least 24 hours before applying wood stain. You can, however, repair or replace damaged or loose boards, as well as hammer in loose nails, as the fence is drying. Remember to wash first – wood stains prefer to cling onto a clean surface, acting as a seal that prolongs the “lifespan” of the fence and its beauty.
  4. How should I apply the stain?
    • Stain can be applied through brushing, rolling, or spraying. However, brushing is the best option when it comes to getting the stain into the grain of the wood and into small areas. The first coat requires a good portion of stain; apply and then dry before the second coat.
  5. Which stain is the best for cedar fences?
    • When it comes to staining cedar fences, oil based semi-transparent stains are the best. With these, the oil penetrates the cedar for more protection and it also blocks UV rays which tend to fade wood over time. This type also shows the wood’s grain and texture, and it enhances the wood’s natural color.