A build up of dirt and mildew on fence posts and planking is an invitation to rot. The least expensive and easiest step to extend the life of a fence it to keep it clean. Wash away dirt and mildew especially on the north or shady side of the fence. Use a mixture of one cup of household bleach to a gallon of water. Commercial house wash solutions are also effective for this process.
Power washing will effectively clean even the dirtiest of fences. Consider hiring a deck cleaning/house washing service to power wash the house, deck and fence. You can save some money by having all the cleaning done at one time. Another option is to rent a power washer (available by the hour or day) and do it yourself.
After cleaning, a natural unpainted fence should be given a coating of a water-repellent sealer. Products with a UV inhibitor are a good choice since UV radiation from the sun is a major cause of wood deterioration. Treat the fence, posts and rails and give special attention to the post area close to the ground. Apply the finish with a paintbrush, roller or sprayer according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Gate hinges and latches are especially vulnerable to weather damage because over time the screws can loosen as wood expands and contracts. As they loosen, the screw holes enlarge so water can penetrate the wood and promote rot. Every year, inspect all hardware. Then tighten or replace any loose screws. Be sure to use galvanized or at least zinc coated screws and hardware on the fence.
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