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

Getting Rid of Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are caused by swelling within the sinus cavities, and not by allergies. Discuss with your doctor the possible ...

Discover More

Choosing Attractive Sportswear

While the obnoxious tracksuits of the seventies were anything but sportswear for exercise enthusiasts, they were the ...

Discover More

Sausage and Rice Casserole with Cheesy Cabbage

You can substitute the Polish sausage with ground sausage but, if you do, make sure that you buy ground sausage with the ...

Discover More

Keep Your Hardwood Floors Like New Bona's hardwood floor cleaner is the #1 choice of professionals. The no-residue formula is specially designed to be safe for floors, families, and the environment. Check out Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Refill today!

More Cleaning Tips

Outdoor Kitchen Cleaning Strategies

Because they differ from regular indoor kitchens, outdoor kitchens may require different cleaning methods. There are various ...

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

Cleaning Your Grill

Just because it's not inside the house doesn't mean that your grill doesn't need to be cleaned. Like any other item used in ...

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

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 8?

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


Newest Tips
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.