How To Effectively Clean A Fence Before Staining It

How To Effectively Clean A Fence Before Staining It

Cleaning your fence is a great way to prepare for a great staining project. If this is your first time, we have all the steps you need!

Cleaning a fence before staining usually involves several methods to remove grime, dirt, old paint and staining products. The most common way is to use water and a scrubbing brush to get rid of impurities on the wood.

You probably want to stain your fence right the first time. To succeed, you need to start with a clean fence! We show you all the steps and also explain why cleaning a fence is a necessary step that must prelude staining.

Why You Must Clean A Fence Before Staining

The condition of a fence directly affects the outcome of a staining project. When the fence is properly prepared and cleaned beforehand, the staining will turn out great and you will have a fence you can be proud of. 

This is what happens when the fence is not cleaned:

  • The staining might fail prematurely.
  • Your fence will have less protection against the weather.
  • The wood will have less visual appeal.

What Are The Benefits Of Staining A Wooden Fence?

Now that you know the drawbacks of not cleaning the fence, what are the actual benefits that you can expect after you stain the fence? After all, staining is a costly and labour-intensive project. You naturally wonder if all the effort is worth it. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • You already know that your wooden fence will look gorgeous!
  • The fence will live longer than a barrier without staining.
  • The wood is less likely to splinter.
  • Those damaging UV rays will have little to no effect on your stained fence.
  • Your fence will also never rot, providing that there were no bad spots before you stained it. 
  • The wood-grain look is highlighted – and we all agree that this is a pretty sought-after look in wooden furniture and structures!

How To Clean A Fence Before A Staining Project

Good preparation goes a long way! Let’s have a look at all the things you need to clean your fence. Here are the basics:

  • Protective gloves.
  • A water source, like a garden hose or pressure washer.
  • A bristle brush.
  • Sanding paper.
  • A soapy solution (if there is mould on the wood).
  • Wood filler (if there are damaged parts).

Are you looking to paint your fence instead of staining the wood? Here are the best fence paint on the market today.

Assess The Condition Of The Fence

How To Effectively Clean A Fence Before Staining It

The condition of your fence will determine how you must go about cleaning it. Should you be lucky enough to have a brand-new fence, then you will avoid most of the ghouls that others will face. You can simply wash, dry, and sand the fence a bit before going straight into staining the wood. 

If your fence had a previous coat of paint or staining, has mould or damage, then here are tips that can help.

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Wash The Wooden Fence Thoroughly 

You can use the garden hose or a pressure washer. But either way, the goal of the exercise is to get all the bits of dirt and grime off the wood. Remember to focus on hard-to-reach places, corners, and the top of the fence as well. 

A pressure washer is usually enough to clean a wooden fence. You also do not need any special soap solution – just plain water will do. But if you decide to use a garden hose, you might need to put in some extra elbow grease to get the job done.

You can make scrubbing easier by using a bristle brush. However, do not use one that is so hard that it damages the wood (those scrapes will show very vividly once you stain the fence).

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Clear The Fence Of Mould

Once your fence is thoroughly rinsed, check the wood for signs of mould. Here are the most common indicators that you have a mould problem.

  • The area around your fence smells mouldy (or the wood itself).
  • There are dark blotches on the wood. 
  • The most obvious sign is fungus growth. 
  • White spots and tiny fibres. 
Can I Use A Bleach Solution?

You probably already did a little research on mould and wooden fences. There is a lot of advice out there suggesting that you use a bleach solution to kill the mould. Bleach can indeed kill mould and mildew but it is a safer option on non-porous materials like ceramic. However, if you have your heart set on bleach, you have to dilute it to about one part bleach to ten parts water. Any stronger than that and you risk damaging the fence. 

If you use the bleach solution, let it sit for a few minutes and then thoroughly rinse it off. 

We also reviewed the best garden hoses.

Can I Use A Soapy Solution? 

A safer option is a soapy solution made from dishwashing liquid and water. You need about a teaspoon of dishwashing soap in a spray bottle (fill it up with warm water). Spray the affected areas with the soapy solution and use the bristle brush to remove the mould or mildew. 

If the mould is quite severe, then this can be a backbreaking chore, so remember to take a few breaks to rest!

Can I Use A Commercial Anti-Fungal Product?

Yes, you can! The upside is that there are many types of products for you to choose from. But you need to make absolutely sure that the spray is safe to use on wood, especially wood that is being prepared for staining. 

You can also spruce up your wooden deck with the best decking oil.

Sand The Fence To Remove Old Paint And Staining

How To Effectively Clean A Fence Before Staining It

The next step is to get rid of all the old stuff. This includes the previous staining, paint, and even old bits of wood and splinters. This is also a labour-intensive step but if you put in the required time and effort, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous fence. 

Use Wood Filler To Fix Problem Areas

When you have an older or damaged fence, the chances are that there will be a few dents and holes. Adding wood filler is a good way to create an even surface (for a brand-new look). Each product might be a little different so follow the instructions on the package to successfully blend, use, and dry the filler. 

Here are the best weed killers for gardens.

A Quick Summary On How To Clean A Fence Before Staining

  • Cleaning a wooden fence before staining is essential for a successful project.
  • You need to assess the condition of your fence to see what steps need to be taken. 
  • Most fences can be cleaned by thoroughly washing the wood with water, removing mould and old paint, and using wood filler to fix dents and splints. 
  • Once your fence is clean, pick a dry and warm day to stain the wood.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.