Cleaning & Home Maintenance

Refreshing Your Fence: Power Washing for Wood and Vinyl

The wood fence that frames your home, adds privacy, and defines your yard is a valuable asset. But over time, weather, sun exposure and other factors can make it look tarnished and worn. A quick sprucing up with a power wash, new stain or paint can breathe fresh life into your old fence.

Whether your fence is made from cedar or pressure-treated lumber, it’s a good idea to refresh the surface at least every other year with either a stain or sealer. These products help the fence resist moisture and fungus, keeping it looking good while prolonging its lifespan.

To get started, choose a cleaning solution appropriate for the type of wood your fence is made from (either oil-based or water-based). Be sure to wear safety glasses and a face mask while working with chemicals. Apply the cleaner to the fence and wait 5-10 minutes. Then use a hose or power washer at a low PSI setting to rinse the fence. Start with the lowest PSI possible — it is easy to damage wood with too much force, especially if you’re not used to operating a power washer.

It’s also a good idea to take this opportunity to inspect the fence and repair any problems, such as loose or missing boards. Replace any sagging boards, re-fasten loose screws or nails, and countersink protruding ones. If the posts are rotting, coat them with a preservative. Finally, repair any split or broken pieces with waterproof glue and reinforcing screws.

Once you’ve spotted any problems, fix them as soon as possible to prevent further damage. It’s best to work on a dry day when humidity is low. Then it’s time to paint. Be sure to use a quality exterior alkyd or acrylic paint with UV protectants and mildewcide. Choose a color that coordinates with your house and garden. A good rule of thumb is to do one coat at a time. Wait six to eight hours between each coat.

After your fence has had a chance to dry thoroughly, it’s ready to be stained. Choose an exterior semi-transparent oil stain to enhance the natural beauty of your wood fence and highlight its grain pattern. The stain will also help preserve the wood, minimizing water penetration and slowing down sunlight bleaching. Stain the fence using a roller and brush, rubbing the wood grain and working the stain into all corners and gaps. After the first coat dries, wait 24 to 48 hours to apply additional stain, if needed. Staining is a labor-intensive process, but if you keep up with this routine every other year, your wood fence will look like new for years to come. If you need a quality DMV power washing services in Arlington visit