How to Clean and Maintain 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.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: Everyone knows when you are spending a lot of time out in the hot, summer sun, you need to make sure you have on adequate sunscreen to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays. But the same principles apply to your wooden fence.

Any kind of wood that is exposed to Mother Nature will eventually turn gray—maybe even warp, crack, or cup. If your fence is looking worn, like this one, there are a few things you can do to bring it back to that just like new appearance.

First of all, you want to make sure it’s thoroughly clean. The best way to do that is by using a good cleaner made especially for fences or decks and use a pressure washer. Now, cleaning the wood will remove dirt, algae, mold, and lichens that are the reason that it is discolored.

Both the cleaner and the pressure washer will also help to open up the pores of the wood. But it’s important that you don’t allow the cleaner to dry on the fence, so rinse it off maybe within 15 or 20 minutes. Also, don’t use too much water pressure, otherwise you may damage or gouge the wood.

Now, once the fence is clean, you’ll want to stain or seal the wood to help protect it from the UV rays even longer. An oil stain is the best choice to really penetrate and protect your fence for years to come.


  1. A fence adjoining my property is deteriorating and has some kind of lichen that I believe has spread (probably wind blown) onto my brick house. Before I approach the fence owner, I would like to know what he is likely to respond. I think the fence needs to be destroyed before I spend money to clean my brick, but I think this is a serious problem and I want to be reasonable. What do you suggest? The fence is about 30 years old. Lichen may not be the correct diagnosis.


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