How to Clean and Maintain a Wood Fence

Using a pressure washer to clean a wood fence.

Wood fences need to be cleaned and sealed or stained from time to time to keep them looking good and protect the wood from cracking, warping, or cupping caused by the sun’s UV rays and the weather.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the fence or deck using a specially formulated fence or deck cleaner following the manufacturer’s directions. Allow the cleaner to remain on the wood the recommended time (usually 15-20 minutes). Scrub the wood with a long handled scrub brush, or use a power pressure washer.

To keep from damaging wood when pressure washing:

  • Use a pressure washer rated at 2,700 PSI or less.
  • Choose a wide angle (40° or so) tip.
  • Keep the tip a consistent 12” to 18” away from the surface.
  • Move the wand constantly while cleaning.

Once the fence is clean, it’s important to stain or seal the wood to help protect it from the sun and weather. An oil stain is the best choice to really penetrate and protect a fence for years to come.


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