The answer is yes. Use your pressure washer before you stain it.
When you decide you want to renew a wooden fence, the most important step in the process is cleaning it. In fact, if you don’t your stain won’t hold to the wood very well since it won’t be allowed to absorb into the material fully. Fence Power Washing helps to take the old faded finish off the surface of the wood so you can make the fence look good as new again.
This goes for fences that have only a small layer of dirt and dust as much as it applies to fencing that has accumulated years of thick caked-on grime and neglect. A pressure washer well-suited for peeling away anything that has become stuck to the wood surface of your fencing while stripping the wood of the finish that has probably started to wear away.
Why Cleaning is Important
You should clean your fence on a routine basis anyway, good maintenance practices will ensure that your fencing always looks great. But when you plan to stain an old fence, you need to prepare it for the new coat of stain you’re going to apply. That new stain has to penetrate the surface of the wood if it’s going to look right.
Without it, your fence won’t be properly stained and you’ll be left confused and frustrated as to why. So give your fence a good, close examination to see how much of the finish has been worn away and determine how much dirt is clinging to the wood. In some cases, you may not need the velocity of pressure that comes from a power washer to get the job done, but instead, a bucket of warm soapy water should suffice.
But if your fence still has the old finish on it and there is thick layer of dirt and grime on the surface, it’s time to get the power washer and go to work.
Word of Warning
Before you get to work, be very careful that you’re not going to decimate the fence with your water pressure. Old fences can start to break down, lean over, and the wood can start to show signs of weakness and soft spots. So check your fence to be sure it doesn’t need any repairs or if you need to replace some boards.
However, if the fence is in good condition, pick the right nozzle for the job. Your nozzle will detemine the strength of water pressure and most wood will need a minimum of 2500 psi of pressure to peel away old finish and caked-on dirt and grime. Test a portion of the fence first to be sure yours can withstand this much pressure.
Once you’ve determined the fence can take it, start from one end and go slow. Take each board at a time and use even motion to thoroughly strip away the surface of the wood. You may notice you’re giving the wood a new texture while you’re doing this. That’s okay, you want that to occur, it allows for the stain to soak into the wood more effectively.