How to Remove Stain from Fence

September 18, 2022

Man washing wood fence with power washer to remove its wood fence.

Not long ago, my friend called in asking me how to remove the old stain of his fence. He had gotten tired of the old stain and wanted to replace it with something more vibrant.

If you have grown tired of the current stain of your wood fence but didn’t know where to start in removing the old stain—you might as well follow the simple steps in this article. 

Steps on Removing Wood Fence Stain

The steps in removing old fence stains are straightforward. Yet, you would need to prepare your tools and materials to remove and re-stain the wood. You can read on through this post to learn the following basic steps on how to remove wood fence stain:

Step 1: Prepare the Tools and Materials You Will Use

Before removing an inch of stain from the fence, you might as well take a step back and prepare the needed tools and materials for removing the old stain and re-staining the wood fence. These tools include an adjustable wrench, cordless drill, paintbrush, paint roller, paint washer, rain gear, and safety glasses. 

You will also need materials like caulk, exterior screws, exterior wood glue, semi-transparent oil stain for outdoors, wood preservative, and turnbuckle. You will also need a mask, wood stripper, gloves, steel bristle brush, power washer, garden sprayer, and oxalic acid.

Step 2: Remove Debris

Before you start removing the old stain, you need to remove debris from your fence. The debris might include cobwebs, soil, or other climbing plants. This debris will leave stain patches on the fence if you don’t clear them away before using the stain remover. You can lay down a sheet or tarp on the ground to prevent any damage to your yard. 

Remember that stain removers generally come with chemicals that could discolor the grass or the nearby furniture or material. If you would remove stains off the deck, you should remove any objects or furniture from the deck. Afterward, blow off any cobwebs, leaves, or dirt from the deck.

Step 3: Rinse the Wood

Apply the stain stripper on the fence. Once the stripper has dissolved the stain, you can rinse the fence using a garden hose or pressure washer. After doing away with the residue, you can spray the panels using an 18″ wand tip, starting from the wood surface. Then, swing its tip along the board’s length. Keep the fan spray’s width aligned along the boards. 

Move the sprayer tip continuously as you pull the trigger. In this way, you won’t gouge the wood. Attack the wood from different angles to hit every corner of the wood. As the surface gets stripped away, the wood color will begin to brighten. Check if there are no more color changes and stop. 

As a caveat, you don’t need to remove much surface and expose the fresh wood. Ideally, you can make 2 to 3 passes; otherwise, you would run the risk of gouging the wood surface.

Step 4: Restore the Color and Neutralize

After applying the oxalic solution, you are almost done with the process. Nevertheless, you still need to neutralize the stripper. Afterward, you can brighten the wood using oxalic acid. In this way, you can restore the old color of the wood and prevent any potential damage due to the stripping process. 

Your fence may look darker than its usual color at this point. If you want to brighten its color, you must use oxalic acid. This acid will brighten the wood. Moreover, it will prevent damage that the wood stripper had created. It is easy to buy oxalic acid. You can readily buy it from a hardware store or home improvement store. 

When you prepare the oxalic acid, don’t remove your gloves and mask. Once done preparing the oxalic solution, place the solution inside a garden sprayer. In this way, you can spread the solution evenly across the board. The oxalic acid on the board doesn’t need any rinsing afterward.

How Can You Remove Stubborn Mold, Moss, Algae, and Mildew?

You may still find molds, moss, algae, or mildew after you’ve rinsed the fence. You can remove these leftovers using the following procedures:

Removing Mildew and Moss

Moss and mildew can damage the wood and can be unsightly. Yet, to remove them, you need to use a different solution. You can utilize a mixture of vinegar and water as your solution for removing them. Use half a cup of vinegar and one gallon of water as your solution. 

Mix the two ingredients and apply this concoction to the fence using a sponge. Let the mixture sit for fifteen minutes. Then, use a plastic bristle brush and scrub off the mildew and moss. Then, rinse the spots off using your garden hose. 

Removing Algae and Mold

To remove algae and mold, you can make a solution of chlorine bleach and water. The ratio is one part (chlorine) and two parts (water). You can utilize a plastic bristle brush to apply this solution and scrub the algae and mold off the fence. Once done scrubbing, you can then rinse the areas off using your garden hose.

Additional Tips

If you want to use a semi-transparent oil-based stain, you must first dry the wood completely. The drying process might take several days. You can utilize a moisture meter to measure the moisture inside the wood. You should ensure that the wood is 12% or less dried before you stain it for optimum results. 

This step is a crucial factor to follow if you want a successful finish for your oil-based stain. The moisture meter is not expensive. Yet, it is a worthy investment when engaged in outdoor wood projects. 

Use Power Washer to Facilitate the Cleaning Process!

You know how the power washer works. It works aggressively and can strip the wood clean of grime and dirt. Yet, if you aggressively power wash the wood, the power washer might erode and damage the wood. So, it will be best to utilize the right sprayer tip and employ the correct technique. 

The power washer can roughen the surface and wood grain a bit, which is actually advantageous to you when you apply the sealer. With a rougher surface, the wood will soak in more sealer and enhance the finish.  


Removing the old stain of your wooden fence might require a lot of effort and time on your part. It might also require a lot of patience on your part. Moreover, removing the old stain from your fence is not easy in preparation for a new stain. Yet, if you know the abovementioned steps to do it, you can breeze through the process sans any issue or problem. 

You should not skip any step from the abovementioned steps, for each step is imperative if you want optimal results afterward. So, make sure that you follow the abovementioned steps and take extra precautions when using chemicals. Follow the instructions and wear the necessary safety gear when handling solutions like wood strippers.

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