How to Treat a Wooden Fence

Mark Morris

Wood is one of the most common materials used in fence building. A well-built wooden fence can last for more than a decade without needing major repairs or maintenance. Many home owners prefer to keep the fresh wood color of their fence as long as possible.

Use a medium nap roller to apply the treatment.

Treating the fence with a waterproofing agent adds to its life and preserves the beauty of the wood grain. A variety of treatments are available. Colored stains or clear waterproofing can be used to treat fences.

  1. Clean the fence with clear water and a stiff broom to remove any dust or debris from the fence boards. High pressure washers and cleaning agents with bleach will actually dry out and tear the grain of your fence. A pressure nozzle on your garden hose is the best tool for loosening stubborn dirt without tearing up the fence. Allow the fence to dry thoroughly before applying the treatment.

  2. Spread a plastic drop cloth under the edge of your fence. Wood waterproofing chemicals and stains will damage and can kill grass and other landscape plants. Place stones, bricks or other heavy objects to prevent the drop cloths from blowing and sticking to your treated fence.

  3. Mix your treatment with the appropriate thinner if needed. Water-based products can be thinned with water, oil based products can typically be thinned with odorless mineral spirits, but consult the label for specific instructions.

  4. Apply the treatment with a medium nap roller, working from one end of the fence. Start at the top of each section and roll over each area several times to get adequate coverage. If your treatment has stain, be especially careful to avoid runs and drips which can lead to a streaky finish.

  5. Spread the treatment between pickets with a narrow paint brush. Paint the tops of pickets with the treatment as well. Continue applying treatment to the end of the fence. Allow the fence to dry between coats for the recommended drying time on the treatment's label.

  6. Add at least a second coat of treatment to make sure the entire surface of the fence is treated. Overlap your strokes and apply as generously as possible without getting unnecessary runs and drips in the finish. Allow the final coat to dry completely before removing the drop cloth under the edge of the fence.

  7. Wash brushes and roller covers in mineral spirits then rinse in warm water and dish detergent to complete the cleaning process.