Cleaning a Cedar Fence

by April Reinhardt
(last updated February 10, 2014)

If you have a cedar fence, you need to know that, over time, it will naturally turn to a gray or silver hue. If, on the other hand, you have a cedar fence—new or old—with black marks or stains, then you can clean your fence of the stains, and brighten the wood. While brightening it will never make the wood look new again, you can clean the fencing to improve its look.

There are four common causes of discoloration of a cedar fence, and they are:

  • Natural fading and graying.
  • Mildew, mold, and tannin stains.
  • Oil and sap discolorations.
  • Burns.

Black marks caused by mildew, mold, and tannins are the most common stains you'll find on your cedar fencing. Tannins are naturally-occurring plant chemicals that leech from the cedar wood. Since tannins are incompatible with metals and iron, any metal that comes in contact with cedar will leave black stains, including saw blades, nails, and even the metal bands used to strap lumber during transport. The redder the wood, the darker the black stains because the darker wood has more tannins.

Mildew and mold grow on cedar—or any other wood—simply because they thrive in a plant environment. If you want to tell the difference between a mold stain and a tannin stain, apply a small droplet of bleach. If the stain fades, then you have mold. Use a solution of water and bleach to remove dark discolorations, taking care not to use bleach full strength, as it will completely bleach the wood.

Oil and sap are another cause for black discolorations on cedar. Sap oozes to the surface of wood, leaving a shiny, dark discoloration, and is oftentimes sticky. When cedar is cut at the sawmill, sometimes oil drips onto the wood from the machinery. Use paint thinner to remove both sap and oil stains.

Cedar wood fades and takes on a gray look naturally with age. While you cannot restore cedar to its original color, you can lighten the wood by spraying it with an acid spray. And if the above remedies to remove oil, sap, mildew, mold, and tannins don't work, try this method using oxalic acid:

  1. Wear protective gear. Acid is a corrosive and can destroy skin and tissue. Cover all metal fencing parts (except nails).
  2. Mix four ounces of acid crystals with one gallon of warm water.
  3. Wet the fencing with your water hose, and then use a plastic garden sprayer (with no metal parts) to spray the acid solution onto the wet wood.
  4. Work in small sections and rub the solution into the fencing using a standard straw broom. Allow the solution to sit for thirty minutes, and then rinse entirely.

When you are finished, the wood will be a lighter color than before, and all of the black stains should be gone. If not, you can spot-clean tough stains and scrub and rinse again.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

MORE FROM APRIL

Basics in Garden Design and Planning

Consider growing zones, irrigation, sun exposure, water drainage, and yard location when designing and planning your garden. ...

Discover More

Turkey Breast with Green Bean Casserole and Noodles Alfredo

While you could garnish this meal with a can of cranberry sauce, forego the temptation to make a copycat Thanksgiving dinner. ...

Discover More

Treating Female Hair Loss

Since the beginning of time, a woman's hair has been hailed as her crowning glory. Most times, women define who they are as ...

Discover More

Tough Cleaning Jobs Require Brawny! Brawny paper towels provide the versatility you need: the strength for demanding jobs and the softness to clean up your child's messy face. This 24-roll pack of pick-a-size sheets can handle just about every cleaning task in your home. Check out Brawny 24-Pack Giant Paper Towels today!

MORE CLEANING TIPS

Cleaning Dirty Pool Water

Have you ever noticed that there are times that, no matter what you try, you just can't seem to get your pool water clean? ...

Discover More

Cleaning Your Sidewalk

Why feel jealous when looking through new subdivisions at model homes with pristine sidewalks? You can restore your sidewalks ...

Discover More

Pool Cleaning Tips

If you have a pool, then you probably know that it requires a fair amount of maintenance. Remember these cleaning ideas to ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

Videos

Subscribe to the Tips.Net channel:

Visit the Tips.Net channel on YouTube

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share