Wood fence job

I just read a ton of posts on wood fence cleaning. I have an upcoming job that has about 1500 square feet of fence to clean. The fence was built in 2004 so about 16 years old. The fence is really dark and gray, almost black in some parts. I surveyed it while looking at the flagstone patio and splashed a little sh on the bottom. It turned back into a nice wood color. I don’t think there is any stain on it. I have a few questions that I didn’t find specific answers for. There was a thread that @tireshark made where he tried 4 different cleaning methods. The sodium percarbonate looked like it has the best results and since there is some areas with bushes hard up against it I think would be safest product to use. I know that @Racer said you don’t need to neutralize percarbonate with oxalic or citric but would applying citric after cleaning with sodium percarbonate help brighten further?
How long would you let the percarbonate dwell? I also am curious about what happens on the other side of the fence? On the right side of the home the opposite side of the fence belongs to the neighbor who has been taking care of it. His stain looks to be newer. Even though the style of fence minimizes gaps some of the boards are warped and my concern would be cleaner getting to the opposite side and compromising his nice stain. Is that an issue or am I over thinking it? If I do use citric would 5 mins be a good dwell time for that? Anything else I should take into consideration? The goal is to return the old gray weathered look back to the original fence color. I will not be staining it. Here’s pictures.


Sodium Percarbonate would definitely be my choice due to the stain on the other side. Let dwell 10-15 minutes and rinse with 1000 psi. Be sure to keep wet. If you have any heavy algae growth you might need to brush those areas. I would pre wet the backside, apply the percarbonate to the front, and immediately mist and rinse the backside. Sodium Percarbonate shouldn’t hurt the stain much but I wouldn’t risk it.

As far as the oxalic or citric I always brighten because it makes such a noticeable difference. It should really help with the dark black areas. That whole fence should clean up really well.


While not a pro on wood like many others on here. I do concur with Brian. Or atleast that’s how I’ve done it when stain is present. I too always brighten after cleaning. I’m sure someone much more qualified then me will let you know for sure.

This is key to the “wow” factor for a customer. 9 out of 10 times I get complimented on the brightness when it’s done, to them that’s “clean” and that’s what there perceived idea is of money well spent is. Very important that they feel like that.


Would you follow the same steps Everett Abraham’s recommends for sh when using Sodium percarbonate and thoroughly prewet the wood before applying it?

As mentioned above I would definitely pre-wet the stained side and lightly mist it right away to rinse off any percarb that dripped through. Same goes for applying your acid. I don’t really follow anything Everett Abraham’s does or at least not intentionally. I’ve never watched any of his videos. I’ve applied percarb with pre wetting and without and I’ve never noticed any difference. His logic makes sense though but I’m not convinced it makes a big enough difference. He knows a heck of lot more than I do though. I’ve done both ways with sh and haven’t noticed any difference. Pre-wetting is always the safer approach. I would do everything I can to minimize damage to the stained side. Although, it shouldn’t be an issue with percarb. It only takes a few minutes to test both the percarb and acid in an inconspicuous area just to make sure the stain won’t be affected.

If he didn’t claim to do things a certain way and make it known, he would have trouble selling his course and products. All the info you need to clean wood is here, explained well, and easily reachable. If you’re stuck on doing everything his way using his products, take his course.

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Yep. I actually took his first two day course he offered in Dallas. Some of the info I use, some I don’t. Moral of the story, you can’t ask the same question a hundred different ways and expect to know the exact outcome. Just go do it with the basics you already know. It is even a board on board fence, which makes it even easier. Less to worry about on the other side.

Percarb is a very mild cleaner

Metasillicate is a heavy cleaner & light stripper

Hydroxide is a stripper. Or if diluted down significantly can also be a cleaner.

Class over. Go do the fence.


I’ve been to his class, he still recommends neutralizing percarbonate.

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I will definitely prewet the stained areas and all vegetation. I know your supposed to prewet the surface your cleaning with sh but was not 100% sure on the percarbonate. I know that it is not as strong as sh and maybe prewetting before using it would reduce its effectiveness. I am going to practice on my fence before going there. I will most likely prewet all of it anyway just for safety. Since all wood is different I would hate to test it on one and then find out it didn’t have the same results on another.

On another note, we did a house wash the other day and it had 2 really nice stained wood decks with railings. Fortunately the home did not have any green to remove so what I did was ds just soap (used sap-it from powerwash.com) only around the areas that that were close to the wood. I admit that while it took a bit more rinsing to get the dirt and cobwebs off it still came out just as nice as the rest that I used sh on! I saw the wood after it dried (cleaned the wood with the soap only too) and it looked perfect. Since I am currently not offering staining this will be my preferred method of cleaning stained wood and anything around it. The stain didn’t lighten it up at all! I was told here in another post that ebc can remove mold also. Does anyone know if ebc would affect stained wood? If I come across mold with stained wood around it I want to find a safe way to remove it…

I would just use SH like you do on the rest of the house. That’s what most of us do. No need to complicate things. Before spraying your house wash mix pre-wet the deck, spray your house wash mix, and instantly rinse the deck before moving to another side to continue soaping. No reason going through all the extra steps. If you’re careful a little sh sitting on an already wet surface won’t hurt anything. Dilution is key. If you’re real worried have your employee sitting there waiting with a separate hose spaying clean water on the deck while you’re soaping. Most of the house wash mix should end up on the house anyways. Not the deck. I’ve never had an issue and I wash by myself.


I also cleaned the wood though. When stain is compromised from age or uv damage my hw strength mix always seems to lighten it up, or even remove it way too easily. I have a double gulp injector so easy to switch between the mix tank and soap only tank. I would say another full year of doing this full time I will feel more confident about where my SH lands. For now even with a 0.8% hw mix I will continue to prewet vegetation, glass and wood or anything else that I might worry about. I know a lot of the seasoned vets know exactly what needs to be prewet or not but I am not there yet.

If you’re such an Everett Abrahams fan, why are you asking us since he’s already told you what to do?

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I tried to give you a double like on this one but can’t.


I don’t believe surfactant has any cleaning capabilities


It’s not that I am a huge fan of his. I have a basic understanding of cleaning wood and the one debate I keep seeing is between pre wetting and not. I don’t have much experience with percarbonate and just want to make sure I understand how to use it properly. In his videos he stresses the importance of prewetting the wood when using sh as the biggest problem with using sh to clean wood is it absorbing into dry wood and causing permanent bleaching ruining the color. I just want to make sure that same rule applied to percarbonate that’s all.

Yes your right. I started another topic about actual soap instead of just a surfactant. I was told by the vendor that sap-it is a soap in addition to a surfactant. I ordered a fiver of Powersolve which will be here this week. That one is supposed to work as a stand-alone soap also and doesn’t have any hydroxide in it. I plan on using that instead of the sap it when it comes in.

Sheesh, just go wash it. You’re way overthinking it. It’s not even that dirty. Whole job shouldn’t take you 90 min if that. If you’re using the PC you can pre-wet or not, because you’re not using that strong a mix. Won’t hurt to do it as long as you let in run off good. Don’t want it soaking wet. Just do a couple of sections at a time. Spray the PC on there, let dwell for 15 min, spray the next 2 sections so they can be sitting while you rinse the first 2. Remember with the percarbonate, mix with warm water if possible and don’t seal container it’s in, up tightly.


Yes I’ve got it all squared away now thanks everyone. Just read another very lengthy thread and I feel good about it. As we all know wood is its own deal and that’s where I am studying now. I still want to take a class on it but getting lots of great knowledge right here. Appreciate the help everyone.

What is your plan of attack?