How to Make Your Wood Fence Look Like New

a cedar wood fence in the backyard of a house

An old or run-down wood fence doesn’t always have to be completely replaced. Most of the time, it just needs to undergo a makeover. But how do you make your wood fence look like new?

Giving life to your old wood fence is not that hard if you have the tools and the know-how. Most importantly, you don’t have to be a handyman or a complete expert in fence repairs to do the job. Do keep in mind, though, that the larger your fence, the more tedious the process. That’s why most homeowners who are pressed for time or not really confident in their DIY skills rely on an expert.

With that being said, it’s time to get down with what needs to be done. But first, let’s start by identifying the tools you’ll need.

What You’ll Need

You don’t really need a highly-specialized paint sprayer or other professional equipment for your fence restoration project. In fact, most people already have these tools lying around in their garage or tool shed.


  • Wire brush
  • Oxygenated bleach
  • Power washer
  • Safety glasses
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller


  • Nails and exterior screws
  • Caulk
  • Exterior wood glue
  • Wood preservative
  • Wood stain
  • Wood paint
  • Turnbuckle

What You Need to Do

There are many ways to increase a home’s curb appeal apart from landscaping, and one of these is by installing a wood fence. There’s a catch, though. An improperly maintained fence can make that charm quickly fade away.

First, you’ll have to assess your old fence’s condition and make simple repairs. Then, thoroughly wash the entire fence, including the fence posts, and apply a fresh coat of paint. 

With your tools and materials in hand, you can start giving your wood fence the appeal it once had. 

1. Fix and Secure Boards

The first step in doing the usual wood fence maintenance work is to make any repairs. Perform a visual inspection of your fence and straighten out any warped sections.

Since nails and screws loosen up over time, it’s not unusual to find a sagging fence panel now and then. This happens when a stringer board is no longer able to hold the vertical board in place. Inspect the stringer board to see if it needs replacing or if you just need to use better outdoor screws.

Either way, you’ll need to take out the sagging vertical boards first before fixing them. Take this as an opportunity to inspect the loose boards, and check for any signs of rotting. If all is well, just screw the vertical boards back – nice and straight.

2. Scrub the Fence Clean

Why manually scrub the fence when you can pressure wash it? Of course, if you’ve recently painted your fence, you should not apply too much pressure. Getting too aggressive in cleaning may damage the paint and even the wood itself.

If your fence does not have a coat of fresh paint, you need to use your wire bristle brush and scrub the fence in a circular motion. Do this using only gentle to moderate pressure. Then hose it to wash away the grime.

For those stubborn stains that are hard to remove with just a wire brush, you’ll need to use a chemical substance safe for wood. Oxygenated bleach is your best choice.

Before you start, keep in mind that bleach is a corrosive substance. As such, you must wear rubber gloves to avoid accidentally coming in contact with the chemical. Apply the bleach using a large paintbrush, then let it sit for 15 minutes. After which, you should scrub it again with your wire bristle brush and hose it down.

3. Power Wash the Fence

washing the wooden fence
Photo credit: Roschetzkylstock / Canva Pro / License

There’s a time for scrubbing and hosing and a time for power washing. The latter is what you would usually do to clean your wood fence that has not been recently stained or painted. Most of the time, an ugly-looking fence just needs thorough cleaning to make it look brand new again.

However, most people end up neglecting their fence after installation. By doing so, they’re not only wasting the costs incurred with wooden fence installation but also negatively impacting their home’s curb appeal.

Power washing with water is already a great way to remove wood flakes, fungi, and grime. But the benefits of using this tool don’t end there.

If your fence has gray fading due to severe sun bleaching, you can add chemicals to your power washer to help fix it. You can use a mixture of 75% water and 25% bleach or sodium hypochlorite. For other store-bought chemicals and bleaching agents, it’s always best to read the labels for the correct water ratio.

When using your pressure washer on your fence, always start at 500 to 800 PSI. Gradually increase this as required. Starting with too much pressure may end up damaging your wood fence and ultimately decrease your property’s value.

4. Sand the Wood

A carpenter using power sander on wood
Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you’re going to re-stain or re-paint your wood, sanding is a necessary preliminary step. Aside from smoothing out the wood grain, you’re also removing loose paint from the old coating. This way, you can have a more consistent stain or paint.

Manually doing this is a time-consuming task, so we recommend using a power sander. Not only will it make the task easier, but it’ll also speed up the process.

In general, you’ll need to use a medium-grit sanding disk on a hand-held orbital sander. Don’t sand across all boards, but choose one board first. This way, you can sense how much pressure you’ll need to remove the current paint. Once you get a feel for it, you can continue applying the same level of pressure to the rest of the boards.

A power sander can’t reach nooks and crannies, though, such as the space between boards. Machine sanding the top of the pickets is also challenging, if not impossible. This is when folded sandpaper or sandpaper black comes in handy, but you’ll have to do this manually.

5. Apply Fresh Stain or Paint

a man applying paint on wooden fence
Photo credit: VSPYCC / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-2.0

Once you achieve an even surface through sanding, your privacy fence is now primed for re-staining or re-painting. Whether you choose to stain or paint, doing this goes beyond making your fence look new. This process also coats the wood with a protective layer, making it withstand the elements, plus it also helps keep termites out.

Are you unsure about which one is a better choice? Both of them are, but it depends on the situation. Paint is more opaque and is a better choice if you don’t have wood grains to highlight. However, if you have a redwood or oak fence, staining will not waste its unique grain pattern but will highlight the grains and make them more visible and appealing.

6. Check Gates and Doors

The gate takes the most beating since it’s generally the most used section of fencing. With this in mind, you also should inspect the gate and repair it as necessary.

One of the first things to check is the door hinges. When you have a sagging or crooked gate, this is more likely the culprit. Check that the screws and bolts are fastened well and in good shape. Look for rust stains where the metal meets the wood.

If you need to replace the screws and bolts, don’t forget to protect them with a rust-protective lubricator. Also, take the time to inspect the wood quality on your gate. If it’s badly damaged, replace it with a new board.

FAQ About Making Your Wood Fence Look New

Why do wood fences require maintenance?

Wood fences are made of organic material, so they naturally degrade over time. However, since they sit outdoors, they are also exposed to the elements. Fluctuations in temperature, changes in weather, and UV from the sun are just some of the things they endure. As such, you need to perform regular maintenance to make your wood fence last longer and look new.

How long do wood fences last?

The average lifespan of wood fences is 20 years. Keep in mind, though, that several factors can extend or lessen its life. For instance, improper installation can cause it to topple over easily. Choosing the wrong type of stain or paint can cause it to rot or be infested by insects. While you can always hire pest control experts to exterminate these insects, prevention is still better. That’s why it’s important to get in touch with a reliable fencing company in your area and have them install the wood fence for you.

When should I replace my wood fence?

Let’s say you just finished doing a visual inspection of your wood fence and found several issues. Repairing them would usually seem like the most cost-effective option. Sometimes, that’s not the case. As a general rule, if more than 20% of your fence is damaged, it’s better to just replace it altogether. It’s best to have a local fencing professional assess the problem so you can have a better idea whether repair or replacement is the way to go.

Perform These Simple Steps for a Beautiful Wood Fence

You don’t have to look at your old, sagging wood fence in the backyard. By giving it some TLC, you can make it look like it has just been installed. Regularly maintaining your fence is surely a better option than having to replace it.

Don’t have the time or tools to do it yourself? Connect with fencing professionals in your area today, so they can perform the work for you.

Main photo credit: thyegn / Canva Pro / License

Melanie Joseph

After discovering her passion for writing through her beauty blog, Melanie left her engineering job in California, became a writer, and never once looked back. When she isn't writing, she loves dipping in the pool, tending to the garden, or doing simple home improvement projects.