Dear Angie: What's involved in restoring and staining a grayed-out fence? — Srinivasa V., Plano, Texas
Answer: Returning a sun-faded fence to its former brightness is an ideal DIY project.
Power washing is the most efficient way to clean a timeworn fence, and the types of power washers most homeowners have will do the job just fine. In fact, professionals who use commercial-grade equipment must be careful not to apply too much concentrated pressure, which can damage wood.
If you have access to a power washer, select a wide-angle tip and test the pressure. Never just blast away. For cleaning a wood fence, detergent isn't necessary and could even lead to damage if used incorrectly.
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After you've washed the fence, let it dry completely before applying sealer or stain. If it's warm and sunny, three days should be plenty of time for drying.
Many types of wood tend to gray over time, and stain or sealer will help it look good longer. Sealing a fence is a good DIY job, and if you choose a toned sealer there's no need to add a coat of paint or stain.
Pick a tone that's a littler darker than you want the finished product to appear because the sun will, over time, lighten whatever shade you apply. However, be careful with going too dark. Dark fences will absorb heat from the sun, increasing the chance of warping.
You can apply sealer or stain by spraying, brushing or using a roller. Spraying tends to take less time.
If you'd rather not clean or stain a faded fence yourself, there are a variety of service providers you can hire to get the job done. Consider companies that specialize in fence maintenance, as well as painting or handyman services. For sealing or staining work, expect to pay around $10 per linear foot of fence.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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