WOOD FENCE CARE AND MAINTENANCE
COMMON WOOD FENCE MAINTENANCE CONCERNS
The continuous changes in weather conditions are extremely harsh on your wood fence. Your maintenance plan must be geared to combat the problems caused by water absorption and water loss, mildew growth, and discoloration of wood due to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. All of the maintenance concerns discussed below are weather related. The degree to which your wood fence is affected by them depends on many factors. These factors include general climate conditions (such as normal precipitation, humidity, etc.) and location in your yard (with regard to direct sun exposure, foliage coverage, etc.).
If your wood fence is built using pressure-treated lumber, it is important to note that the pressure treatment does not increase the likelihood that your fence will develop these natural defects to any greater degree than the same material left untreated. These weather related defects are beyond the control of the pressure treatment process.
WOOD FENCE SWELLING AND SHRINKING
Continuous water absorption and water loss in the wood used for your fence will cause its natural defects to surface. The most common defects are: cupping/warping, twisting, checking, and splitting. A well maintained wood fence will still experience some of these natural defects. However, the extent can be significantly reduced through a maintenance plan.
Whenever wood, including pressure treated wood, is constantly exposed to moist or humid conditions, it will mildew. This results in an unsightly appearance. Your preventative maintenance plan will need to include cleaning your wood fence with a cleaner containing a mildewcide. This will insure that your fence will remain bright and attractive.
ULTRAVIOLET PROTECTION FOR WOOD FENCE
Without any preventative steps taken to block the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the surface cells of the wood will begin to discolor to a weathered gray color. Although some may prefer this, others won’t. If you want to maintain the natural wood color, you will need to not only clean/brighten your fence periodically, but also choose a water repellent finish with an ultraviolet stabilizer. The stabilizer will not prevent eventual discoloration, but will slow down the process. Periodic reapplication of a UV stabilizer will help in this effort over an extended period of time.
Your maintenance efforts will give you’re wood fence a look that will stay bright and fresh for years to come!
INITIAL WOOD FENCE MAINTENANCE
- Start by cleaning your wood fence with a cleaner/brightener that contains a mildewcide. Because your fence is new, this step is truly preventative.
- Next, apply a topical sealant for surface protection. Do not use a conventional multi-coat paint system or varnish. The performance is nearly always disappointing, and repainting often has to be preceded by scraping and sanding. Instead, choose either a pigmented or clear outdoor wood sealer. Unlike true paints, these sealers allow moisture vapor to leave the wood slowly after the coating has been applied. For that reason, either can be applied as soon as the surface no longer looks wet. Your choice of sealer should include not only a water repellent but also a UV stabilizer to slow the discoloration process.
You may want to cover or protect surrounding plants before applying a sealant. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
WOOD FENCE FIRST YEAR MAINTENANCE
- Reapply cleaner/brightener as described in initial maintenance, as well as another application of your outdoor wood sealant. The topical water repellent and ultraviolet stabilizer will keep your wood fence looking fresh.
- Complete your first year maintenance after 12 months.
FUTURE PERIODIC WOOD FENCE PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
- Depending on the location of your wood fence, with regard to direct sun exposure, foliage coverage, etc., it may be sufficient to clean/brighten and re-coat every two years.
- If you decide to wait two or more years to perform your next cleaning/brightening, you may want to use a power washer. Be sure that the cleaner/brightener you use contains a mildewcide.
- After every cleaning, reapply an outdoor wood sealer that contains both a water repellent and ultraviolet stabilizer.
*Remember, even consistent maintenance will not prevent the natural defects of wood from surfacing – but your efforts can minimize them.