How to keep a wooden fence looking good

Some owners mark their property’s boundary with a brick wall, others go for a hedge and a small number opt for period-style metal palisade railings, but the wooden fence shows no sign of falling out of fashion.


Wooden fences are not only seen up and down the country as a marker of boundaries between properties, they are increasingly being used as a design feature in gardens.

A well looked after fence is not only a great asset to your home’s security, it can add to the enjoyment of a garden by providing privacy from neighbours.

A standard wooden fence should last between 15 and 20 years, if it receives regular attention to protect it.

The weather can pay havoc with fencing as it is exposed to the elements throughout the year. This means that any fencing could deal with extreme heat, extreme cold, snow, rain and heavy winds.

Fence panels can also be subject to wear and tear if exposed to pets, or even abuse. Fence panel football goals anyone?

However, it does not take much effort to give a fence some routine maintenance once a year. In this article we look at some simple steps to ensure your garden fence is kept clean, stained and well maintained.

Cleaning you fence

The best tool for cleaning a fence, and preventing the presence of moss, mildew or weeds eating away at the wood, is a pressure washer.

Washers designed for domestic use should be powerful enough for the job, but for larger properties it may be worth hiring a commercial-sized washer for the day.

To ensure the job is carried out to a high standard, it will be necessary to prepare the fence for cleaning by filling a spray bottle with a mild soap and 20% bleach solution and applying it to your fence about one hour before turning on the pressure washer.

Alternatively, special solutions that are designed to remove mould from fence panels can be purchased from gardening centres and DIY outlets.

When it comes to operating the pressure washer, take care not to use a setting that is too high. An ideal pressure is between 500 and 800psi, although it is wise to ensure that the pressure washer you are using is not more powerful than 2700psi.

When using the washer, stand about 1 metre away from the fence and keep the washer moving at all times to avoid damaging any spots of the fence.

Sealing and staining

Prolong the life of you fence, and protect it from all types of elements including UV rays from the sun and rain, by sealing and staining it.

You should seal the fence within a year of it being installed and then again once every year. The sealant helps to prevent any cracking or splitting while also protecting the wood’s natural colour.

When choosing a different colour for your fence you should always use a specific wood stain, do not use paint. To ensure maximum protection you should ensure that every part of wood that is exposed is covered with the stain and apply two coats if needed.

Article provided by Mike James, working together with Worcestershire-based fencing contractor Chariot Fencing, which was consulted over the information contained here.