Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

How to Stain and Refinish Your Wood Fence

Ready Seal® Natural Cedar Wood Fence StainA wooden fence offers an attractive border around your backyard while keeping it secure. However, natural wooden fences require ongoing maintenance and upkeep to keep them looking beautiful. Over time, exposure to rain, hail, snow, and extreme heat can cause a wooden fence to deteriorate and become unattractive. Additionally, dirt and mildew can begin to form which causes the wood to turn an unsightly gray color. Follow these steps to refinish your wood fence.

What to know before you begin:

• FOR YOUR SAFETY: When staining your wood fence, always wear goggles and gloves to keep chemicals, stains, and dirt away from your skin and eyes.

• Never try to refinish your wooden fence if there is rain in the forecast for your general area because stain needs time to dry and seal properly.

Choosing a stain and sealant:

• If you live in a wet or humid climate, you may want to buy a wooden fence stain with a quick application to avoid bubbles in the finish. Acrylic resin-based stains are good for longevity, so try and find a quick application version if you can.

• Make sure your wood stain has ultra violet protection to protect the wood from sun and water damage

• Sealant is another important additive that will make your fence last longer. The natural oils and fibers in the wood are leeched out by the sun’s rays unless the proper sealant is applied.

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, follow these steps for refinishing:

Cedar Split Rail Fence Refinished with Light Oak Stain1. Use a pressure washer to remove the outermost layer of wood. Dirt and mildew build up on the fence over time, which can rot the structure if left untreated, and eventually cause structural problems. If you haven’t refinished your wooden fence in many years, then you may need to add chemical compounds to thoroughly remove the dirt and mildew. For the worst cases, you can use a sand blaster, but this should be a last resort. Reducing the width of the fence by sandblasting can lead to weakness and collapse. Also, be careful to sandblast the wood fence evenly so that it does not become top-heavy and more susceptible to wind damage. Without sandblasting, the old wood stain is nearly impossible to remove.

2. After cleaning the fence, make sure the wood has ample time to dry. If you stain your fence before the moisture evaporates from the wood, then the aging process will increase drastically. The extra moisture on the wood promotes the growth of mold and mildew while stymieing the absorption of the protective stain.

3. Inspect the fence for splintered or broken fence posts. You can use wood glue and corrosion resistant screws and nails to repair fence posts before staining. For parts that are too worn to patch with wood glue, remove the damaged panel and take it to your local wood supplier to get a replacement. Changing rotted or broken wood panels on your fence will help maintain its firm structure and beauty.

Ready Seal® Dark Walnut Fence Stain on Cedar Fence4. After fixing the splinters and broken sections, it’s time to prepare for staining. Cover the ground at the base of the fence with a tarp. This will prevent the chemicals from potentially killing the organic materials nearby. Also, place painter’s tape over the fence’s hardware and accents to avoid exposure to the stain. The stain should only touch the wooden fence panels.

5. Use a manual paint roller to apply the stain. Try to apply an even coat along the entire fence and maintain a perfectly vertical stroke if you can. Take your time! For the nooks and crannies, use a small paintbrush so you can protect every part of the fence. Missing a section could result in extreme decay. Failing to evenly coat the wood fence with stain may result in a multi-colored fence. Portions that are over-stained will be darker in color and give your fence an unappealing look. More importantly, the under-stained portions of the fence will be more susceptible to future damage and will require additional refinishing sooner than others.

Learning how to refinish a wood fence is not a difficult task, but it takes hard work and diligence. Nonetheless, refinishing your wood fence on a regular basis will keep it looking beautiful, so it’s worth it!

This post was written by Dave C. from refinishingfurniture.net. Dave enjoys painting and refinishing and is always looking for ways to save a buck.

Looking to buy a new fence instead? Check out our Fences Buyers’ Guide for a list of reputable fence manufacturers and companies.

Photos courtesy of Ready Seal, Inc.

Pool Plans - 10 Tips

10 Tips for Planning Your Pool

By Patti Plummer

Like any new endeavor, planning and building a pool can be exciting—but for many, it is full of unknowns. If you are ready to build your backyard retreat and are wondering where to begin, start here. These 10 pool planning tips will help you put everything into perspective and give you the tools you need to guarantee years of enjoyment.

1. Create a photo book of ideas. Collect photos from a variety of sources to determine the types and styles of pools you love. You can find tons of great photography on these sections of our websites and social networks:

-Pinterest boards for swimming pool ideas
-Award-winning pool photo galleries
-Luxury Pools photo galleries

Then share your collection with your prospective pool builder so he or she will have an idea of the direction you’re leaning toward.

2. Establish a swimming pool budget. Early in the process, you should determine how much you are willing to spend on your new swimming pool. Your costs may increase as the planning and building progresses, but know your limit—and be sure to communicate this with your pool builder.

3. Utilize trusted resources. Check out prospective designers and swimming pool builders with organizations like the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, or see our list of trusted pool builders and luxury pool designers. Also talk to family and friends: referrals are a wonderful resource. Don’t leave this important task to luck.

4. Choose your setting wisely.
Remember, natural surroundings, optimum views, soil quality, and privacy issues factor into how and where your pool will be built. Suggest a location, but be willing to change your mind should the contractor recommend a different site.

5. Think about how you will use the pool and how often. Will you swim laps? Will it be for children? Do you wish to entertain during the evening? How you plan to use your pool may mean you’ll want additional options like a heater, pool/landscape lighting, waterslide, etc.

6. Look up local building codes. Your pool builder will help you pull the proper permits, but it is a good idea to know the regulations yourself before you start looking for a pool builder. There may be laws restricting where your pool can be installed in your backyard and how far away it must be from another property or road. Many cities and towns also require a safety fence.

7. Think green. Using eco-friendly equipment will help save on energy and save you money. Also, look into rebates. Depending on where you live, your local government may offer green incentives.

8. Consider maintenance. Think about who will clean the pool and balance the water’s pH. Are you willing to do the labor or will you hire a professional? Your contractor may be able to connect you with a reputable company, or the company may have its own service department. Ask your contractor about control systems to operate pumps and heaters, disperse chemicals, clean debris, and manage the lighting.

9. Don’t overlook insurance. Talk to your agent before you begin to make sure that your pool will be covered by your policy.

10. Keep safe. Create layers of protection to protect children, animals, and other guests around the pool. Look into swimming pool barriers such as safety covers, fencing, and alarms.

Photo courtesy of Aquatic Consultants, Inc./Brian Van Bower; Photography by M. Bouwmeester; Architect: Jasmit Rangr, Rangr Studio, Inc.

Take our survey to get a FREE download of Award-Winning Pools book for iPadFree e-book! See over 75 amazing pool photos in our Award-Winning Pools book. Take our quick survey to download Award-Winning Pools FREE for iPad >>

Modern Landscaping Style

Photos of Modern Style Landscaping - Modern Landscape Design

Modern landscape design
combines colors, lighting, textures and abstract patterns to create an outdoor living space that will exemplify nature’s beauty while complementing contemporary architectural designs. Today’s modern landscaping style is clean, bold and dramatic; a minimalist design. 

Photo courtesy of Platinum Poolcare, Ltd.; Photography by Outvision Photography

Modern Landscape Design - Plant Selection

Plant Selection for Modern Landscape DesignWhen selecting plants for modern landscape design consider plants that will add texture to the surroundings. Fountain grass is one such plant. Its sprouting leaves resemble cascading water from a fountain and add softness to the landscape. Plants with very fine features, such as Creeping Boobialla, Butterfly Iris or Fine Gold Leaf Stonecrop, are important parts of the landscape. Placed either as a single element or into odd numbered groups, they can add light and dark contrast. When fine textured plants are placed where the rising or setting sun can accent them, it can create a very unique effect. This same effect can be achieved by the use of outdoor lighting as well.

Photo courtesy of CLC Landscape Design; Photo by Richard R. Cording

Modern Landscape Design – Plant Arrangement

Plant Arrangement for Modern Style Landscape DesignIt is very important in modern landscape design to avoid arranging plants on a grid or in straight lines. They may look great at the start of the season, but as plants age, die out or become damaged by weather it is very difficult to replace them with single plants that are perfectly matched in size. This can cause a major disruption to the aesthetic element of the landscape design. It is more favorable to use a natural approach when arranging plants, spacing them randomly.

Photo courtesy of Creative Master Pools

Modern Landscape Design - Ground Cover Plants

Plants for Ground Cover in Modern Style LandscapingUsing plants that are curved or have an irregular shape will add character to any landscaped area. To avoid empty or “dead” areas, place foliage or ground-hugging plants around trees. Make sure that the plants will remain low to the ground so that they will accentuate the area and not overwhelm the other greenery. When groundcover is used properly, it can be a dynamic feature in any modern landscape design. Creeping Fig or Alpine succulents can add a wide variety of color as well as texture to the ground area.

Photo courtesy of CLC Landscape Design; Photo by Richard R. Cording

Modern Landscape Design - Container Plants

Modern Landscape Design with Container PlantsMany areas in your backyard may be covered by cement or pavement so there is less soil to work with. This type of landscape offers a great opportunity to explore with container plants. Generally, containers are over-sized and add an architectural element to the landscape design. As a general rule, containers are chosen because of their unique geometric shape. Bowls, boxes, or cylinders can always be fitted perfectly with complimentary greenery. Usually, the pot’s shape will be in stark contrast with the shape of the plant. For instance, instead of placing the cylindrical Italian Cypress in a cylinder, it will be aesthetically pleasing when placed in a box. When selecting various pots to place greenery and plants in, choose those with the most artistic expression. The glaze, color, or patterns can all add something to the artistic design of a modern landscape.

Photo courtesy of Pacific Paradise Pools

About the author: Mark Simpson is a landscape design contractor and the owner of East Coast Landscape Design, in Bathesda, Md. Mark has many years of experience in landscape design and enjoys bringing backyards to life.

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