A Quick Guide to Maintaining Your Wood Fence

Maintaining your wood fence will keep it looking new, prevent damage, and extend its lifespan. Wood fences can become split, warped, or stained by the sun’s ultraviolet light, weather, and insects. Mold, mildew, moss, and fungus can also build up, changing the color of your fence and causing further damage. Although pressure-treated wood fencing built in the last decade will weather and withstand termite damage better than older fences, both older and newer wood fences need to be repaired, cleaned, protected, and stained on a regular basis.


Maintaining your wood fence begins with inspection and repairs. Inspect your fence for loose boards, nails, rails, and pickets, repairing and replacing as needed. Ensure posts sit firmly in the soil or concrete and reinforce weak posts. Examine all fence parts, including areas surrounding fasteners, for discoloration and rot. Repair sagging fence rails and gates. Lubricate gate hinges and locks.


Pressure wash on a medium to low setting, or hand scrub your fence, with a biodegradable wood cleaner to remove dirt, debris, mold, mildew or fungus. Ensure the type of cleaner you use specifies what it removes. For tough mildew buildup, choose a cleaner that includes sodium hypochlorite.

A mixture of dish soap with water will also clean wood, followed by a 1:2 bleach water mixture for mildew removal. Hand-washed fences can be rinsed with a garden hose. After you have applied and rinsed your cleaner, allow your fence to dry for at least 48 hours before staining or sealing.


The structural integrity of wood fencing will become compromised without proper protection from the Tennessee elements and from insects. Waterproof sealants, paints, or wax polishes are best applied in the fall when local weather is drier and should be applied after sanding rough spots or old paint or wax.

Applying a wood preservative with borate to your wood fence before applying sealant, paint, or wax will prevent termite infestations. Ensure insect and weatherproofing protection is applied to the front, back, horizontal braces, posts, and crevices of the fencing. Applying caulking where fence posts meet concrete will also help to weatherproof. Allow your fence to dry for one week prior to staining.


Stain on a day when the Eastern Tennessee humidity is low. Coat wood fences with an oil-based stain that includes UV protection and anti-mold ingredients. Use a brush, power sprayer, or long-handled roller to apply an even coat from top to bottom, ensuring that all surfaces are stained. Be sure to follow your stain manufacturer’s recommendations for thickness, number of coats, and time between coats.


To maximize the lifespan of your wood fence, you need to repair, clean, protect, and stain on a regular basis. Every two to three years should suffice, but yearly maintenance is ideal. Maintaining your wood fence is not difficult or expensive and will make a big difference in how long your fence remains sturdy and looking new.