If your home has a wooden fence, you probably know it needs to be resealed every few years. While you could hire a professional to do this job for you, it's much more cost effective to handle it yourself. Plus, this allows you to pick the exact product you think is best for your fence. If you aren't sure what to choose, use these tips to help you decide.

What Makes A Good Fence Sealer?

Unsealed wooden fences are vulnerable to damage from several sources. In order to choose the best sealing coat for your fence, you'll need to find one that not only looks good, but also protects the wood from each potential danger. Here are a few traits to look for in potential sealing products:

  • Since exposed wood will rot after it rains, a good sealer will be water-repellent. These products form a protective layer on top of the wood water can't penetrate. Some advanced products even offer hydrophobic properties to your fence, which means water will bounce right off on contact.
  • Sunlight can also damage your fence over time, changing the color of the wood and drying it out. You can prevent this with a sealing product that offers UV-protection, usually in the form of pigments. Paints and semi-transparent stains will both block UV rays relatively well.
  • Even if water can't get to the wood in your fence, mildew can still grow on the outside. Unless you want your fence to regularly get smelly and spotty when it rains, your sealing agent should include a mildewcide, or chemical that kills off fungi.
  • For long-lasting protection, varnishes and other water-based products that leave a coat on the top of the wood just won't do. The outer layer of protection is too easy to wear down, exposing the vulnerable wood underneath. Instead, you'll want to use an oil-based sealer that will absorb deep into the fence and help the wood itself better resist damage.

Once you've picked out your favorite sealing product, it's time to apply it to your fence.

What Does Applying The Sealer Entail?

Depending on the size of your fence, applying the sealant will take one to two days. The first step will be to power wash your fence, paying special attention to the nooks and crannies where dirt and spider webs may collect. Once the entire fence is clean, take a break for several hours while it dries. Ideally, you'll want to wash it in the morning, so the midday sun can help the water evaporate.

When the fence is completely dry, it's time to apply your chosen sealer. Using a paint sprayer or repurposed insecticide sprayer, give each fence board a liberal coating. After the boards are sprayed down, go over them with a brush to smooth out the sealant and get it into the tight corners. You should do the fence in sections, going over both sides of each section before moving on to the next. This prevents discoloration and uneven sealing that may occur if one side completely dries before you coat the other.

How Can You Make Your Fence Sealer Last?

Your fence should be protected for a few years, but you can take steps to stretch this time out even further if you want to get the most out of your stain or paint job. First, make sure the fence is well shaded by bushes or trees, in order to reduce sun damage. Second, help the wood better absorb the sealant by giving the fence a rough sanding before the coating is applied. Finally, be sure to seal up the ends of the fence posts as well as the sides, so water can't get in and rot your boards from the inside.

Sealing your own wooden fence can be highly rewarding: you get to see it change color before your eyes and feel a sense of pride as it stands up to all manner of weather over the following years. Contact professionals like Maximum Fence Contractors if you have any more questions to see if they can answer them for you.