Not Martha

Fence post

a back corner of our yard that now catches sunlight for us

Earlier I was a little nervous about the new fence that we were having put in and now it’s here and it is indeed one hell of a fence. We moved it back a little and made it a little taller and now the view from our deck no longer primarily consists of the cars parked in the alley. It’s so much calmer, deeeeep breath. We also had an arbor top added for a little more visual height and so we can do things like grow vines across them and hang twinkling lanterns and see even less of the neighbor’s roof.

Before and after-ish. I didn’t want to show you the falling down fence. It was sad.

Now we have to protect the fence from the never ending rain we get here. Has anybody done this? Can we do this on our own (we’re talking 150 feet) or is it worth hiring somebody do come in and do it? Help?

· comments [26] · 08-21-2012 · categories:the home ·

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda Rose // Aug 21, 2012 at 3:32 am

    This turned out great! I can’t wait to see it all covered in vines and decorated with hanging lights!

  • 2 Seanna Lea // Aug 21, 2012 at 4:54 am

    I wish I had some information for you, but we have to replace about 400 linear feet of fence ourselves and fencing is expensive!

  • 3 Mandy S // Aug 21, 2012 at 6:46 am

    It looks great! Staining a 150 fence isn’t difficult. It just takes time. We built our fence (at our home in Seattle) two years ago. Because we are on a triangle lot, it’s over 200 linear feet. Just give yourself a good day for each side. I think it took us 3 days when all was said and done. Not so bad with nice weekends coming up!

  • 4 Bethany // Aug 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

    The fence sealant I’ve used comes in like metal gallon jugs to be poured into a spray pump (a hand pump is cheap, but the pros would probably have electric ones), and the application is easy peasy. Pump a bit; spray a bit. Repeat. I’ve never done a fence with an arbor on top like that so that might be harder.

  • 5 Bethany // Aug 21, 2012 at 7:09 am

    It’s beautiful though… :-)

  • 6 MKH // Aug 21, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I just finished staining my fence & mine is bigger than yours (one city block long), personally I’d avoid the sprayer route too much toxic aerosol. I used a brush and Cabots Wood Toner, it is sheer & transparent and it usually lasts two years (in Montana, but it is very dry here). Good luck and your fence is beautiful!!!

  • 7 Katie Lynn // Aug 21, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I have gone the sprayer route for a deck and fence before; AMAZINGLY LIFECHANGING for the deck but terrible for fencing. The direction of the wind and how much there is on that day is a huge factor and I think we used twice as much as we would have needed had we just painted. I know because I had to go to back and buy more twice before all was said and done.
    Thompsons all-weather is a good sealant if you’re only planning on sealing and not painting or staining. Like anything you use, it will have to be reapplied every few years, but it does an excellent job.

  • 8 megan // Aug 21, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for these tips! I think I’d rather commit to re-doing the sealant every few years than do a dark stain/seal which apparently is more effective but is ugly. As you can ask my deck who got the treatment from the previous owners.

  • 9 Rosemary // Aug 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Can you shout out your contractor? We’re fellow-Seattle-ites and a new fence looms ominously in our future.

  • 10 Minnie // Aug 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

    A good quality stain more often than you think (retains before too much wear or fading occurs) should keep your fence happy for a good long while.

  • 11 kay // Aug 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

    We had a cedar fence put in in Oregon in 2005 and never treated it, it is fine. It is grey and the big fence posts are still red (they had to be pressure treated wood), but it looks good. We stained the fence at our last house, it took time, but do it now before the rains start.

  • 12 Lana // Aug 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I’d invest in a good sprayer and a mask- if you want the fence to keep looking good year after year you’ll have to re-seal it every dang year- (pains of living in the NW!) You’re probably a better person than I am, but I know I would be too lazy to hand-paint it each summer and with the nooks and crannys of the (beautiful, but tall) arbor……that’s a lot of labor, when you could be out riding bikes in the fleeting sunshine!

  • 13 YC in Seattle // Aug 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I bet a nice grape vine would go really well on top of that arbor! Though maybe not so pretty in the winter…

  • 14 m @ random musings // Aug 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    yup, just get some sealer and one of those hand pump sprayers. If you’re an outdoor diy type, you’ll be clicking heels in glee over how much $$ you save :-) Really, you can’t go wrong with this. Check the fence in spring to see if you missed any spots and touchup, otherwise in Seattle the 10 year thompsons should last about 3 years with no reapplication. Expecting anything longer is hit and miss – I applied the stuff to my mom’s deck and mine in the same summer (Kent and Auburn, both south facing) and we reapplied in different years. good luck!

  • 15 arianek // Aug 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    You can totally do it yourself, just do a couple hours (or as long as you can handle) each day till it’s done. And then make this face.

    As you can see I just did a ton of deck and fence painting to stain our new cedar stuff (wish I’d thought of that arbor thing, brilliant!) It wasn’t exactly fun, but it was totally doable.

    I used a water-based semi-transparent stain by Behr. It was a bit darker than I’d expected – I really liked the natural tone of the wood – but it’s water based so easy to clean up, dries fast, non-stinky. And should last a couple years.

    Good luck!

  • 16 Kerry // Aug 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Once you stain you must maintain! I’d leave it as is. Trees in the forest don’t get water protectors.

  • 17 megan // Aug 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    If only my fence had bark.

  • 18 Dalila // Aug 22, 2012 at 7:12 am

    What material did you use for your fence? It looks like pressure treated 4x4s as the posts with cedar between. Cedar does not require sealant and is often used because it weathers well and lasts a long time (like Kerry says). Painted pressure treated lumber often peels. Your lumber could also be quite green (if it was from a building supply place, this is probably the case) and would not accept paint or urethane well (it would also peel) until it dries further.

  • 19 megan // Aug 22, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Rosemary – I emailed you!

    Dalila – You know, I don’t know. Our old fence was who-knows-what and it was in terrible shape when we finally saved up to put a new one in so we might be overreacting to trying to protect this one. (I don’t really want to seal it every year, but I will if it means no more sections of fence falling against our house during wind storms!).

  • 20 Jen // Aug 22, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Megan, would you mind sending me contractor info as well? Thanks!

  • 21 quincy // Aug 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Not to make you paranoid about stain+seal products, but… Here’s the line-up at our house:

    We’ve had bad luck with Behr. I don’t know if it was user error on the part of application or not, but both the railing and the stairs REALLY need re-doing within 2 years of stain+seal application.

    I went with Cabots for our garden fence, but that’s only been one year so it is hard to know.

    Also, if you want to see cedar unstained new vs cedar unstained old (10+years), you can come inspect our patchwork fence anytime.

    Finally, I think our front fence has Thompsons solid stain and seal (in gray) on it, and it’s failing too, but I don’t know the age of that. (Somewhere between 4 and 10 years, I wager.)

    I think it comes down to choosing between:
    * stain (even semi-transparent) and seal ever 2 years
    * clear seal every 3-5 years
    * replace the fence every 15-20years

    (I mostly just made up those numbers based on what I’ve seen in my two houses. YMMV.)

    Also, 20 might be pushing it with Seattle. So much moisture and so many wood eating organisms = a shorter than normal life for untreated cedar.

    Lastly, I have no idea what the lifetime of a clear sealed fence that gets maintenance every 5 years might be. Is it going to be much longer than unsealed? I don’t know. And are you going to be in that house in 20 years?

  • 22 Emily // Aug 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Would you mind emailing me your contractor as well? My fence is in need of repair and I don’t really like how the original contractors constructed it . . . thanks!

    PS It looks great! And though mine is falling apart construction-wise, the actual quality of the wood (cedar) looks great and is holding up just fine (more than 7 years old) and I never once stained or treated it. But you have to like the slightly weathered/gray look like Kay mentioned.

  • 23 jennifer e. // Aug 23, 2012 at 7:08 am

    i’d love to know your contractor as well (fellow seattleite). our fence is looking kind of sad.

  • 24 Carolyn J. // Aug 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Pressure-treated wood is glazed at the mill, and the glaze needs to be removed before you stain, or the stain doesn’t adhere properly. Either use a mill-glaze removing product before you stain or leave the fence unstained for a year to let the weather remove the glaze for you.

  • 25 Jon B // Sep 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I’ve had really good results with Thompsons Water Seal when applied by a simple pump garden sprayer. It worked well for cedar wood fences and things I built for my Woodinville, WA home.

    Btw, love your blog.

  • 26 Jon B // Sep 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I’ve had really good results with Thompsons Water Seal when applied by a simple pump garden sprayer. It worked well for cedar wood fences and things I built for my Woodinville, WA home.

    Btw, love your blog.

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