How To Maintain A Cedar Fence

Cedar wood is a great choice for outdoor structures like decks and fences because of its resistance to warping, rotting, and insect infestations all while having a beautiful red tone. Plus, cedar wood deteriorates slowly due to the amount of natural oil and its structural strength and ability. Untreated cedar fences can go years before needing to be replaced or repaired.

But, that being said, with time, the weather and dirt will still cause the red-toned wood to turn gray. Thankfully, aged cedar can easily be stained to enhance its colour or enhance its natural shade. Proper care and regular maintenance will preserve, protect and keep your cedar wood looking new for many years. Staining and regular maintenance of your fence can prevent damage and save you from having to make more repairs compared to natural untreated wood that is prone to suffering from the elements.

Ready to get more use of your fence and outdoor space with your friends and family? Here’s how to maintain your cedar fence!


a person using a drill to fix a cedar fence.

Regular inspection and maintenance of your fence will preserve it much longer. Look for loose sections, posts and tighten or replace any loose or missing screws or nails.

Fix or replace damaged boards, refasten loose boards and re-hammer any nails. Use waterproof glue for a preventative or temporary repair to any split or broken boards. Using rust-resistant screws instead of nails to repair any loose pieces.

If you notice a gate is sagging, you can straighten it with a turnbuckle support rod. Coat the posts where they emerge from the ground with a wood preservative to prevent rotting areas that rot first like there.


A cedar fence should be washed at least once a year. Regular washing keeps your fence clean and prevents and removes mildew and mould that can grow and further damage your fence.

The easier way to clean your fence is with a power washer. With a pressure of 1,500-2,000 pounds per square inch, keep the nozzle 18 inches from the fence surface and move the spray evenly over your fence. This distance and level of pressure should not damage the wood, but still make sure not to linger in one area for too long with the sprayer. The outer gray layer will wash off and expose the red toned wood fence underneath. It’s recommended to wear old clothing and eye protection as the spray from the power washer will bounce from the fence back towards you.

Another method of cleaning is to mix a solution and scrub the fence. In a bucket combine 3 parts of warm water and 1 part of oxygen bleach, as this is environmentally friendly but will kill mold and mildew. Use a garden sprayer to spray the solution onto your fence or apply with a brush generously, allowing the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Scrub the fence to remove all mildew and dirt, it is recommended to wash a fence in sections to keep the oxygen bleach solution from drying before you can scrub it. Make sure to protect your hands while cleaning. Rinse your fence with water once you are done.

A similar mixture is one of three quarts of warm water, one quart of oxygen bleach with a fourth of a cup of ammonia-free dish soap. Similarly use a garden sprayer to dowse the fence, let sit for 10 minutes, and scrub all dirt and stains out and rinse.

Staining & Sealing

What Is Stain?

A person using a brush to clean a cedar fence.

Stain for a cedar fence is a type of paint product that is applied to wood fence materials either before or after the construction of the fence to enhance the wood’s natural tone or to change the appearance of the tone entirely while

Stains can range from transparent to solid in colour and come in a wide variety of fence stain colours. Fence stain does differ from traditional pain in many ways. Fence stain is meant to penetrate the wood, preserving its natural appeal. Paint on the other hand just sits on the wood’s surface and masks the wood entirely by covering it. Stain wears away gradually and accommodates multiple coats easily while the paint surface can peel and chip over time.

Look for commercial grade cedar fence stains as they will perform the best.

How Does It Help?

A quality fence stain can prolong the life of your cedar fence from weather and elements, saving you time and money:

Staining Cedar With A Semi-Transparent Stain

Semi-transparent stains are best for when you want to keep the real look of the cedar but will add protection. It prevents moisture from penetrating the wood’s cellular structure. The few solid particles in the stain will not significantly obscure the cedar’s wood grain, keeping the colour light tones of the wood clear and visible. With its application, semi-transparent stains will need more care. Manual brushing is the best option as spraying can result in blotchy spots.

Staining Cedar With A Solid Stain

A cedar fence along the side of a road.

The first step to stain is to wash your fence and allow it to dry completely before any application. Making sure there is no water still absorbed in your fence helps to get a cohesive final look.

The next step is to brush or roll a coat of fence stain or sealer evenly over the dry wood of the entire fence, letting it soak in. Do about 3 feet of the fence at a time, going in to brush out the stain or sealer to eliminate any runs or drips as they will make the final look uneven. Brushing the stain or sealer into the wood grain and in all the corners and gaps and the base of fence posts is a necessary step for the best coverage and protection.

If the wood still looks dry right after application, apply the additional product and make sure to work it into all corners and recesses and brush it well into the wood’s surface. Allow the stain or sealant to dry and apply a second coat if desired. Re-apply stain or sealant every three to five years.

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