Cleaning a Cedar Fence

by April Reinhardt
(last updated July 29, 2019)

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

What to Expect in a Massage

If performed incorrectly, a massage could hurt you. Investigate about massage before making an appointment with a ...

Discover More

Growing a Lawn in the Shade

Experts agree that growing grass in the shade can be exceptionally difficult, but it can be done. If you find that grass ...

Discover More

When to Use Pre-emergent Herbicides

If you are planting flowers or growing plants, take caution and remember that a pre-emergent herbicide will burn any ...

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

Cleaning Your Home's Exterior

The average home is a pretty big structure, and—especially given that the average person is relatively small in ...

Discover More

Cleaning a Flagstone Walkway

Usually you wouldn't think that you would ever need to clean rocks, but when those rocks, like flagstone, are a part of ...

Discover More

Cleaning Up Your Yard

Cleaning up your yard may be a daunting and overwhelming task, but really, you just need to know the right way to go ...

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. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 nine minus 1?

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


Newest Tips
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.