Step-by-Step Guides: Care for Your Wood Fence
Choose the Right Look and Protection For Your Wood Fence
If the paint in your living room is looking old and dingy, you can give your room a makeover by adding a fresh coat of paint. But what about your graying backyard fence? Short of replacing it, how do we protect it from the elements and make it look like new again? Like your deck, it'll need a good waterproofer. That's where Thompson's® WaterSeal® products come in. With the complete line of Thompson's® WaterSeal® cleaning and waterproofing products, giving your fence a makeover is easy and inexpensive.
Although a fence is vertical and doesn't get the same wear as a deck does from foot traffic, a fence is just as prone to damage from water and UV light.
First step in protecting your fence is to determine if it's time to re-treat your surface. You can do this by splashing water on a small area of the fence and if the water is absorbed rapidly, darkening the wood, it is time to re-apply a waterproofer. If the water beads up or otherwise beads on top of the fence, then it does not need protection at this time.
In addition to protecting the wood, the type of waterproofer or stain you use can make an aesthetic difference in your landscaping. Therefore, when choosing a finish for your fence, you need to consider the characteristics of each type of finish and the ultimate look you want to achieve.
- A clear or "natural" wood protector maintains the natural color of the wood. A tinted wood protector adds wood color without obscuring the wood. Both the oil based, Thompson's® WaterSeal® Wood Protectors, and the water-based Thompson's® WaterSeal® Advanced Wood Protectors protect against water damage while the coating resists mildew and UV damage.
- The Thompson's® WaterSeal® Advanced Wood Protector formulas are based on special, patented technology that seals out 99% of the water right from the start. This product also allows you to clean and waterproof your fence in ONE DAY, since it can be applied to damp, freshly cleaned wood.
- Both Thompson's® WaterSeal® Wood Protectors and Thompson's® WaterSeal® Exterior Wood Stains offer color choices, effective waterproofing protection, UV and a mildew resistant coating.
A new fence should be protected, as soon as possible, after it's installed. Don't wait to protect your investment in wood - damage can begin to occur in the first couple of months. Another option would be to apply a waterproofer to the boards before you install them. That way you can thoroughly cover every side and end.
- New wood fences should be treated without delay. It does not take long for exposed wood to be damaged.
- New pressure-treated lumber should be treated immediately with "Thompson's® WaterSeal® Advanced Waterproofers, or 30 days after installation with other Thompson's® WaterSeal® Waterproofers.
TIP: Whatever product you choose, read the label carefully, follow the manufacturer's instructions, and apply using the specified brush, roller, paint pad or sprayer.
Preparation is Critical
All exterior wood, from decks to fences to siding, should be cleaned before sealing, staining or painting. Cleaning is a crucial step to long-lasting protection. It will remove the discoloration that makes weathered wood unslightly and will improve the durability of a waterproofer or stain.
Before cleaning your fence, protect your eyes, skin, plants and other items in the area that cannot be removed.
- When cleaning, use an appropriate cleaner, power-washer, or a combination of the two, to remove stains from dirt, mildew, mold, algae and other prior finishes.
- When using a power-washer be careful not to spray too close to the fence, you do not want to split the wood fence or cause it to lift.
Follow product label application instructions carefully.
Allow the formula to sit on the fence for the time indicated on the product label, usually 10-15 minutes. Next, scrub the surface using a stiff bristle brush to remove elements and then rinse thoroughly.
- Once your fence is clean, let it dry for 2-3 days and then apply the desired finish.
Each Thompson's® WaterSeal® cleaning product will make weathered wood look new, but your choice of cleaner will be based on the type of soils or coatings on the wood, and sometimes by the type of wood.
Treating The Fence
After cleaning, your wood fence will need protection from water damage. It is important to wait 2-3 days, depending on weather conditions, for the wood to dry thoroughly before applying a Thompson's® WaterSeal® waterproofer or stain.
- For the convenience of a one-day project, Thompson's® WaterSeal® Advanced waterproofers can be applied to damp, freshly cleaned wood, and you get the highest levels of waterproofing available.
- When treating your fence and applying a Thompson's® WaterSeal® waterproofer or stain, follow the product's label application instructions carefully.
Avoid lap marks by applying the waterproofer along the vertical boards, moving from top to bottom and working on one or two boards at a time.
For best results in applying a waterproofer or stain on your wood fence, use an exterior applicator pad with a long handle.
- If a pump-up sprayer is used, back-brush with a pad or brush to even out the finish.
- To prevent lap marks, keep the leading edge "wet" and distribute the finish evenly. Brushes are particularly effective in tight or hard-to-reach spaces.
- Follow package directions to clean tools with either mineral spirits or soap and water.
TIP: To maintain the look and life of your wood fence, you should plan on repeating this project every two to three years.