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How to Seal a Wood Fence for Longevity and Beauty Full Guide of 2023

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how to seal a wood fenceStaring at your weathered wooden fence, thinking it’s time for an upgrade? Hold up! With a few easy steps and basic supplies, you can give that old fence new life. Sealing your wood fence restores its looks and protects it from the elements. Once you seal it right, you’ll add years of beauty to your backyard oasis.

Grab some mineral spirits, a stiff scrub brush, and fence stain or sealer. You’re ready to get to work. First, you’ll clean every inch of wood, removing grime and old sealant. Next, neutralize the pH before applying your sealer according to the directions.

With some sweat equity, you’ll master fence sealing and save hundreds on replacement.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean wood fences thoroughly before sealing to remove dirt, mold, and previous finishes.
  • Completely strip old sealant or stain so that the new coating penetrates the wood deeply.
  • Apply wood brightener after cleaning to restore the natural color and neutralize the pH for proper sealing.
  • Reapply sealant/stain every 2-3 years to maintain protection against the sun and water.

When to Seal the Fence

When to Seal the Fence
You’ll lengthen your fence’s life if you take time each summer to shield it. The best time to seal your wood fence is at the start of the dry season. Allow a few sunny weeks for the wood’s surface to completely dry out after the wet winter and spring.

Choose a warm, low-humidity stretch. Don’t apply sealant or sealer right after rain when the fence feels damp. Wait for a dry spell. Read the product instructions for the recommended conditions needed for proper application and curing.

Some sealers require several days of dry, sunny weather for optimal performance. Plan ahead and check the forecast. Pick a period with no rain in sight so the sealer stains can fully penetrate into the wood before weather arrives.

Prepare the Wood

Prepare the Wood
Before you apply any new water sealant or wood stain to your fence, you’ll need to properly clean and prepare the wood surface. Use a pressure washer or scrub brush to remove all previous finishes, dirt, mold, and mildew so the new coating can properly adhere and absorb into the wood.

Make sure to neutralize the pH after cleaning by applying a brightener solution to restore the wood’s natural color and texture.

Clean and Prepare the Wooden Fence

Before sealant application, thoroughly clean the fence wood with a pressure washer or brush to remove accumulated dirt, mold, mildew, sap, and previous finishes. Scrub with a stiff brush to lift off stubborn grime. For extensive mold or mildew, use a bleach-based cleaner.

Let the wood dry completely so the sealant can soak in properly. Choose a low-wind day since wind can blow dust onto damp sealant.

Strip Off Any Fence Water Seal or Stain

Scrape off any old sealant or stain on the wood so that the new coating saturates deeply.

  • Use a paint scraper to remove old sealant and stain from fences.
  • Scrub with a stiff brush and solvent to strip off the old finish.
  • A pressure washer can be effective for removing old sealant.
  • Completely strip the wood bare so that the new sealant penetrates deeply.

By removing previous finishes, you allow the new sealant to fully saturate and protect the wood for years.

Neutralize the PH

After scrubbing away debris, brighten that wood like a smile until it’s prepped for sealing. To restore the natural color and neutralize the pH before applying a sealant, brighten up those wood fibers with an acidic wood brightener.

Unprotected wood can be too acidic or alkaline for quality sealing. Brighteners neutralize pH levels across different types of wood, ensuring waterproof fence paint bonds and penetrates properly.

Seal the Fence

Seal the Fence
You’ll wanna soak that puppy down real good with the garden hose ’til she’s drippin’. Make sure you saturate every inch of that fence with a quality penetrating oil stain. I recommend using one with natural polymers that’ll help it soak deep into the grain.

That way, it forms a protective barrier against the sun’s ultraviolet rays trying to turn your fence gray.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Saturate all surfaces – front, back, top, bottom
  • Apply 2-3 heavy coats for the best protection
  • Let each coat dry fully before adding more

Sealing up your fence creates a water-repellent barrier that prevents water damage. And sealing regularly every 2-3 years ensures you keep that protection solid against the sun’s rays and any water that soaks into the wood.

Regular Wood Fence Maintenance

Regular Wood Fence Maintenance
Keep the fence looking its best by resealing and cleaning it every couple of years. The sun’s UV rays gradually fade the red color of wood stain and break down the sealer over time. Multiple coats of sealer soak in deep to shield the wood. As seasons pass, rainfall washes away the protective barrier.

Reapply a quality oil or waterproofing stain to restore your fence’s beauty and privacy. Scrub off mold, mildew, dirt, and sap buildup before recoating bare spots. Proper maintenance keeps your wooden fence looking like new for many more years.

Know Your Wood

Know Your Wood
You’ve built a gorgeous wood fence around your property, but after a few years, that beautiful boundary is looking rough. Sun, rain, snow, and wind can really do a number on wood, causing discoloration, swelling, rot, and decay.

Don’t surrender your fence to the elements! Sealing and protecting your wooden fence is the best way to safeguard that investment in privacy and security. With the right protective sealant or stain, you can keep your fence looking pristine and uniform for years to come.

How Weather Exposure Ruins Your Wooden Fence

Exposure will wreck your fence faster than ants at a picnic.

  1. UV rays bleach wood gray and crack it.
  2. Moisture swells and rots wood after soaking in.
  3. Repeated wet/dry cycles warp planks and joints.
  4. Temperature shifts expand and contract boards until they split.

Protect that fence with a good sealant or stain every couple of years. Use quality products and do it right so your fence lasts.

How to Seal a Wood Fence for Long-Lasting Beauty

Bless your heart, if you want to keep that fence from turning grayer than a mule’s backside, best be slapping on a hearty coat of that sealant right quick. You hear? That sun’s UV rays will get deep in them wood’s pores, turning the natural grain gray and cracking paint faster than a bullfrog jumps in July.

So seal up them boards proper so they stay prettier than a speckled pup for years to come.

Why Should I Treat My Cedar Fence?

Why Should I Treat My Cedar Fence
Before preserving that cedar fence of yours, you’ll need to assess the cost and prep work required. Properly sealing a cedar fence can cost $1-3 per square foot, with additional charges for prep work like power washing.

To get the most longevity from the treatment, thoroughly clean the wood first to remove existing finishes, mold, and mildew. A pressure washer on a low setting is ideal for this task. Let the fence dry completely before sealing it for proper absorption.

If needed, use wood restorers to neutralize the pH after cleaning. Investing a little time and money upfront to prep and seal your cedar fence will pay dividends down the road. It will enhance the beauty, protection, and privacy of your fence for decades to come.

How Much Does It Cost to Seal a Cedar Fence?

Treating that cedar fence right doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, hun. A good exterior wood sealer for those fences will only run you a couple hundred bucks or so. Just grab some quality oil-based stain from the hardware store, a few brushes and rollers, maybe a sprayer if it’s a big old fence, and have at it! With the right prep and a couple of coats, you’ll protect that wood from the elements for years.

How to Prep for Preserving a Cedar Fence

You’ll want to make sure your cedar fence is good and clean before preserving it so the new sealant really soaks in. Use a pressure washer to blast off any old paint, stain, or mildew, exposing the wood.

Let it dry out completely, then brush on wood cleaner to prep for the new sealant. The sun’s UV rays will fade those wooden fences quickly without a protective barrier, so proper preparing now means that the new sealant will keep your existing fences looking fresh.

DIY Vs. Hiring a Pro

DIY Vs. Hiring a Pro
When it comes to sealing your wood fence, you have a choice – tackle it yourself or hire a professional. If you’re pretty handy and have the time, sealing your fence can be a rewarding DIY project.

Start by gathering the necessary supplies – fence cleaner, wood brightener, quality sealer, and application tools like a pump sprayer, brushes, and rollers. Carefully read the product instructions and watch online video tutorials to understand the steps.

Set aside a full weekend when the weather will be warm, dry, and calm. Be prepared for some hard work on your hands and knees. Take your time and don’t rush through the cleaning, prep, and sealing process. Doing it right will lead to great results.

If DIY isn’t your thing, consider hiring a professional. They have the experience, tools, and manpower to complete the job efficiently. Though more costly upfront, a pro job will look uniform and last longer, saving you money in the long run.

Evaluate whether your schedule and skillset allow for a DIY sealing or if you’re better off hiring a contractor. With the right planning and execution, you can get your wood fence properly sealed and protected either way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of sealants work best for different wood fence materials?

For cedar and redwood, oil-based sealers work best. On pine, use acrylics. And for pressure-treated wood, go with water repellents. But testing different products in small areas first helps you find what adheres and protects well long-term.

Ultimately, proper prep and application matter most – scuffing up the surface, applying enough coats, and resealing on schedule.

How long does it take for sealant to fully cure before withstanding weather?

Most sealants fully cure in 1-2 days before withstanding normal weather. Oil-based sealers may take up to 7 days to cure. Follow all drying time instructions before exposing the sealant to rain, sun, snow, or heavy use.

What kind of brushes or rollers work best for applying fence sealant?

Use a natural bristle brush for oil-based sealants, and a synthetic bristle brush for latex sealants. A 2-inch angle sash brush reaches corners nicely. For large flat areas, opt for a quality nylon or polyester 3-inch brush.

You’ll get the smoothest finish with a medium or high nap roller; 3/8-inch nap works for most sealers.

How do I clean up spills or mess from the sealing process?

Life’s messy, so absorb messes with a rag or paper towels right away to avoid stains. Then, let the fence dry before adding another coat for long-lasting protection. With patience, sealing brings beauty and preserves your wood’s natural glory against the elements.

Are there any tricks to getting an even coat across large fence spans?

Fence rows stretch long like dusty trails, but you’ve got this, friend. Divide the job into sections and maintain a wet edge as you progress. Don’t rush for perfection. Allow each coat to dry completely before moving along the line.


You’ve learned the nitty-gritty of how to seal a wood fence—from cleaning and prepping to choosing the right products and techniques. While it may seem daunting at first, proper sealing is key to protecting your investment and maintaining curb appeal.

Don’t let the prospect of sealing intimidate you. With some elbow grease and the right materials, you’ll soon have a fence that’s sealed to withstand the elements for years to come.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.