Out of all the materials you can use for your fence, cedar has got to be the top option. Why?
Well, there are plenty of reasons. First and foremost, cedar is a natural beauty. Even without staining, cedar has a distinctive color and grain that sets it apart from other woods. More than that, cedar naturally resists insect damage along with other types of rot. But most importantly, cedar is extremely durable. It can withstand all sorts of conditions and climates, making it one of the best choices–if not the best choice–for outdoor structures like fencing.
And because of its natural resistance to decay, you can expect your cedar fencing to last up to 30 years–or even longer!
The long lifespan of cedar makes it a worthwhile investment for your fencing. But wait, does cedar fencing need to be treated like other types of wood? As you’ll soon discover, the answer is not one size fits all. While most cedar fences will perform well without treatment, you may want to consider sealing your fence anyway to further extend its life.
In this article, we’ll address the question at hand - does cedar fencing actually need to be treated - and cover all you need to know about how to do so.
Does Cedar Fencing Need To Be Treated?
Cedar has a natural resistance to rot, decay, moisture, and other factors that can cause it to deteriorate. Cedar wood thrives in damp climates without shrinking, warping, or decaying despite extreme changes in weather. Hence, it is a great choice for cedar fencing, decking, siding, and other exterior structures.
So, does cedar fencing need to be treated?
Cedar is so durable that treatment is optional. But despite how durable cedar wood is, sealing is still an important step if you want your fence to last as long as possible before needing to be replaced. Sealing your cedar fencing will provide an extra layer of protection against moisture, rot, grime, and sun exposure, thereby reducing wear and tear over time.
The answer to this question is similar to the answer to, “Does cedar decking need to be treated?” While you can get away without treating your cedar lumber, you will extend the life of whatever structure is in question by doing so. The same goes for cedar siding, roofs, pergolas, and other exterior structures. All that said, we recommend treating your cedar fencing with a high-quality cedar wood sealant. Here’s how to do it:
How To Treat Cedar Fencing With Sealant
You should re-seal your cedar fencing every 3 to 5 years to keep it in its best shape. Here’s a useful guide on how to seal your cedar fencing easily:
Step 1: Repair or Replace Broken Parts
First things first, inspect your fence for signs of damage such as cracking, splintering, or mold. Replace broken or warped boards if they are too far gone to repair. For small gaps or cracks, use a wood filler or putty to fill them in. If there is mold or mildew on your fence, scrub them away with a brush and a vinegar-water solution.
Step 2: Remove Weeds and Shrubs
Pluck out weeds, vines, shrubs, and other plants surrounding your cedar fence. This way, you have good access to the whole fence while sealing it. You don’t want to miss sections and end up paying for it down the road. Don’t cut corners. Removing plants from around your cedar fence also helps prevent moisture from getting trapped in the wood, which would otherwise accelerate decay.
Step 3: Clean Your Cedar Fence
The next step is to give your cedar fence a good wash. There are two ways you can do this; either by hand or by using a power washer.
If you do not have a lot of experience using a power washer, we recommend cleaning your cedar fence by hand. Otherwise, you may risk damaging your cedar fence due to the high pressure that a power washer emits. The best approach is to use a typical garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle. This gets you the best of both world by using a powerful jet of water to efficiently clean - without the risk of damaging your fence boards.
Washing your cedar fencing by hand may be tedious, but it is a much safer option if you are not confident in your power washing skills. It will allow you to clean cracks and other tight edges much more efficiently.
With this method, all you need is a non-abrasive brush, dish soap, oxygen bleach, and water.
Make a cleaning solution using 3 quartz of warm water, 1 quart of oxygen bleach (do not use regular bleach!), and ¼ cup of regular dish soap. Apply the solution to the section of the fence you’re working on and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Afterward, gently scrub the fence along the wood’s grain using a non-abrasive brush. Rinse with water from your garden hose and inspect your fence again. If there are any lingering stains or mildew spots, soak them in your cleaning solution and use a stiff brush to scrub them out.
Using a Power Washer
The high water pressure from a power washer can be dangerous, so don’t forget to wear protective gear (boots, safety goggles, gloves) and remove any breakable objects from the area.
To minimize the risk of damaging your cedar fence with a power washer, use a 25-degree angled tip and use 1,500 to 2,000 psi of pressure maximum. Aim the nozzle at least 18 inches away from the fence and wash in wide sweeps, making sure to follow the grain of the wood.
Use a power washer detergent to make the job easier. Alternatively, soak your cedar fence in the same solution that we’ve mentioned above.
Step 4: Wait For Your Fence to Dry
Wait for your fence to dry completely before applying your sealant. Usually, it takes around 24 hours for a cedar fence to dry, but it can take more or less time depending on the weather.
If you want your fence to dry quicker, we recommend cleaning it in the early morning so the afternoon sun dries it out.
Step 5: Apply Your Sealant
After your fence dries completely, it’s time to apply the sealant. Choose a high-quality sealant made specifically for cedar wood for the best results.
We recommend applying the sealant in late spring or early fall when temperatures tend to be mild and there are fewer chances of rain.
Apply the first coat of sealant with a wide brush. Ensure that the sealant penetrates the gaps and other imperfections to prevent further damage from occurring. Wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying your second coat of sealant.
Step 6: Re-Apply Every 3 to 5 Years
Sealant typically wears away every 3 to 5 years, depending on your area’s climate. If you live in a damper area and/or experience frequent storms, you may need to re-seal your cedar fence more frequently to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.
Other Cedar Fencing Maintenance Tips
Is cedar fencing sustainable? Yes, indeed. And cedar’s ability to last for decades is a huge reason for this. After all, the longer your fence lasts, the less frequently you will need to replace it over the course of your life. But apart from treating your cedar fence with sealant, what else can you do to make it last longer?
Consider Staining Your Cedar Fence
Staining your cedar fence adds another layer of protection against pests, rot, and the elements. More than that, staining breathes new life into your fence and chases away weathering.
However, staining also gets rid of the natural appearance of cedar. And if you’re like us, you chose cedar for its natural beauty. But if you want longevity more than you want cedar’s natural color, it’s a good idea to apply a stain to it.
Choose an oil-based stain so that your cedar fencing can absorb it well. Keep in mind that cedar is a porous wood, and an oil-based stain will absorb much better than other types of stains, resulting in a clean finish.
For even more protection, apply a clear finish after the stain dries. This will also give your cedar fence a glossy, good-as-new look.
Clean Your Fence Regularly
Sealing and staining your fence will not make it impervious to dirt and grime. Thus, make it a point to clean your fence at least once a year. Refer to the two cleaning methods we’ve mentioned above every time your fence is due for a deep clean.
Trim Surrounding Brush
Plants that sit too closely or lay against your fence can trap moisture in the wood, which can increase the risk of rot and mildewing. To avoid this, trim surrounding bushes so that they are at least a few inches away from your fence.
Re-Calibrate Lawn Sprinklers
If you have lawn sprinklers that spray water on your fence, calibrate them in such a way that the water doesn’t spray on your fence for too long. Doing so will help avoid excess moisture from accumulating on the wood, thus minimizing potential water damage.
Does Cedar Fencing Need To Be Treated? Final Thoughts
So, does cedar fencing need to be treated?
While treatment is optional, we highly recommend treating your cedar fence to increase its longevity. Although cedar is naturally resistant to rot, pests, and damage, giving your fence an extra layer of protection certainly won’t hurt.
Luckily, treating cedar is super easy. Simply address any damages, clean your fence, and then apply a cedar wood sealant. Do this every 3 to 5 years, and your cedar fence can last even more than 30 years!
But, of course, buying high-quality cedar is the best way to get a long-lasting fence.
Get your cedar fence posts at G&B Quality Cedar Products where we provide only top-tier lumber that passes all the quality standards with flying colors! We are the #1 supplier of cedar products online. Check out our cedar wholesale program to see how much we can save you!