Either you purchased your home with one or decided that Wood was a better option then Vinyl for your fence but now after a few years its time to take a weekend and make everything look like new again.
There are two basic types of wood fences, you have the natural look split rail which comes in three or four rails set between posts and then you have barricade fencing or privacy fencing that can keep pets in and your neighbors eyes out.
Both fence types if built in the past ten years or so should have been made out of pressure treated wood that can withstand rot and insect damage many times better then standard framing or white woods used in our homes. The average life of a pressure treated fence is 20 years or maybe more but this is only true if you take decent care of it.
When your fence is first built it is a good idea to let it dry and weather before staining it. Usually a year is a good time period to wait but if you are in a hurry you can wait just a few weeks until the sun has time to dry the pressure treating material.
After your fence has sat a few years you want to take a day and inspect it for any lose boards, buildup of dirt and pollution that can turn it dark and any mold or moss that could be growing on it.
Cleaning The Fence
The first thing you want to do is clean your whole fence with a pressure washer. A home sized pressure washer should be fine but will take more time then one you can rent. If you have a very large yard I would suggest renting one for half a day.
Some manufacturers make special treatment products to remove mold and they come in plastic bottles that you attach to your pressure washer. If you have this type of attachment make use if it. If not you can buy a pump up weed / insect sprayer and apply a 20% bleach solution with a mild soap like clothes washing liquid to the fence about an hour before you pressure wash it.
This is a good time to make any repairs that you need to do. Look for wood that should be replaced or fasteners that need to be reseated. Make sure that your fence is secure in the ground and the posts have firm soil that has not washed away since the fence was built.
Three rail fences can be stabilized by wrapping the outside surface with a tall wire fencing material available at most garden centers. Along with providing added structure it will reduce nuisance pets and animals from entering your yard.
Something as simple as adding a wood deck screw to secure the rails to the post will also stop kids from taking down your fence to cut through your property.
Staining Your Fence
Once clean you want to give the fence a week to dry in the hot sun before you apply stain. Stain is a petrolium based product that will seep into the top layer of wood unlike paint that simply attaches to the surface. For that reason the fence must be dry before you begin.
Applying the stain can be done with a brush or with a power sprayer. If you are using a power sprayer make sure that you use a tip that is rated for stain because it it much thinner then paint and will not need as much pressure to coat the surface.
If you are using a pressure sprayer on a barricade fence you may want to use a wet paint brush to add texture to the surface on the final pass.
Completing The Job
This is also a great time to lubricate your fence door locks and hinges. A general quality automotive grease can be used and remove hinge pins to apply internally in the hing with a small brush.
Many people choose to use a wood preservative over their fences to extend the time between treatments but make sure that you do not use one with paraffin wax in it if you plan on later staining for touchup or overall look some time down the line.
Wax coatings are difficult to work with because they are hard to remove before re-staining. If the wax is not removed the stain will not penetrate the wood and will fail very quickly or produce a mottled effect which is not very nice to look at.