As you probably know from reading the A1-Fence blog and website, we’re big believers in the benefits of Northern White Cedar. All of our wooden fences, pergolas, and gazebos are made out of it.
However, cedar that is destined to live outdoors needs some special care and attention. Specifically, it needs to be treated with a good wood stain. Otherwise, your nice cedar color will fade to a dull, nasty grey.
Why does this happen? There are two culprits: water and sun.
Water erodes the outer layer of the wood cells that are still alive and well in a plank of cedar. They are busy producing the natural oils which gives cedar its nice color and smell.
Then the sun’s UV rays come in to dry out those oils. UV rays can also fade the colors of just about anything over time. That’s why as I evaluated the best stain brand for a cedar fence I spent a lot of time looking at how well any given stain resisted the sun’s UV rays.
Then water moves back in. Now it’s eroding dead cell tissue, producing wood rot. It also turns your fence into a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which finish the job of changing the color of the wood.
How long do you have before your cedar fence starts to turn grey? It depends.
Some people have seen trouble start in less than six weeks. Others can wait a year or more before they see problems.
A fence that lives beneath full shade in dry conditions is going to last longer than a fence that lives in full sun, or a fence which is exposed to several months of heavy rain or snow. Full shade can’t protect a fence from water, and can actually contribute to mildew and mold. Thus a great deal depends on how wet your fence gets.
To be on the safe side I recommend taking care of the staining process just as soon as your cedar “dries out.” This is a process that takes about 5 weeks under normal circumstances.
The good news is that you can repair the damage if your fence has already gone grey. It just takes a little bit of effort on your part.
First, you will need to pressure wash your fence. You will then need to apply a wood brightener. We recommend the Restore-a-Deck Brightener (and all of their products actually). Then you will need to protect the fence from future damage by applying a good wood stain and sealer.
This process works just fine for any cedar product: fences, decks, pergolas, gazebos, and any wooden patio furniture that you may have.
And remember, you should reapply your stain every 2 years. If you do, your cedar should keep looking nice as long as the fence stands!
If you’re thinking about installing a gorgeous Northern White Cedar fence in your back yard, call us for a free estimate. We serve Monomonee Falls, Fox Point, Whitefish Bay and the rest of the Milwaukee metro area.