Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

The “New” Old Fence

Hi friends! Last time you got to see our back yard, was back to when we did tons of clean-up work. We cut down dead trees, trimmed dead branches off the living trees, and weeded our way around the property (~9000 sqft of it!). After a few days of elbow grease, we were left with this:

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Before we start planting and plant our dream garden, we have an important issue to address: the fence. Like I showed you in the site plan of the ranch, our backyard is fenced by three types of fencing – wooden fence AND chain link on the left, wooden fence at the back, and chain link fence on the right and the front. As much as we appreciate that the yard came pre-fenced, the different types of fencing makes it look choppy, especially at the back of the yard:

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The picture above shows a corner of the backyard, where the old wooden fencing meets the chain link. We hope to replace the chain link fence soon, but the back fence still consists of two different colors of fencing.

It is apparent that some sections of the wooden fence were more recent than others.

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The darker panels are older. They are still holding up, but just barely. Some boards are warping away from the post:

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And some others are split:

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One hot afternoon, Slav took his hammer to the back fence and reinforced every single board. He also replaced a few of the broken panels with some backup ones we found in the shed. The plan was to paint the lighter panels darker, hopefull to match the darker panels.

In preparation for painting, we decided to power wash the fence. Besides getting the fence clean, we hoped that power wash would lighten the darker panels a bit, so we would not need to paint everything almost black!

It was apparently very difficult to wash aged wood clean in one go. It took Slav 5 hours to wash all the back fence! He first sprayed deck and fence cleaner on the fence, a few panel a time, let it sit for 5 minutes, then pressure washed. After he finished with all the panels, he came back around and washed everything once again.

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From the photo above, you can see how much lighter the darker boards got after their first wash! From right to left, the different colors of sections are: unwashed lighter panels, washed and dried darker panels, just washed darker panels, and unwashed darker panels. What a difference!

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It was satisfying to see black water coming off these old boards! But some of them ended up on Slav so it was not cool at all.

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May I present you – our new old fence!

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Isn’t it sooooo much better? We were in such a shock that the “dark” panels were really just dirty! I am sure that they were older, so years of dirt have made them much darker. But really all of them are the same kind of panels!

This surprisingly good result (always welcome!) changed our plan of painting the fence – with the color being nearly uniform, and the wood surface looking fresh, we will be sealing them with linseed oil to offer some protection.

At the meantime, we are enjoying this:

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You may still be able to tell the difference between older and newer panels, but we could not be happier to go from this:

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to this!

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2 Comments

  1. Yka de Castillo

    Dear Alison,
    I have just found online and read your article The “New” Old Fence. I really enjoyed it while reading. It inspired me to give another look to my 20-year-old white-cedar fence. Now, I am in the process of spraying deck and fence cleaner on the fence, let it sit for 10 minutes, then pressure wash. But what it is not clear to me is when you wrote “… he came back around and washed everything once again.” Does it mean that I should AGAIN spray deck and fence cleaner on the fence, let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then pressure washed?

    Please, extend my congratulation to Slav. Both of you inspired me. Hope you understand my English which it is not my first language.

    • Alison

      Dear Yka, welcome to the blog! Slav only used deck and fence cleaner once – this stuff is pretty expensive and to be honest, we do not know how much it helped. The pressure from the powerwasher was so strong that it could peel paint off wood if held close. So we might have been fine just using powerwasher alone. Slav did come back the second time with the powerwasher (just water, no cleaner). We decided to seal the fence with oil so he wanted to make sure it was super clean. I do not think it was necessary either.

      I hope it answers your question. Have fun and post the “after” photo here when you are done!

      Happy Summer

      -Alison

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