How to Strip and Re Strain a Wood Fence or Privacy Panels

Introduction: How to Strip and Re Strain a Wood Fence or Privacy Panels

About: With a background in architecture and construction, I enjoy tackling projects around the house and helping others learn in the process.

Hey everyone, welcome to Homes for Beginner where I show you how to do repairs around the house yourself. In this video, I will be showing you how to restain a fence or privacy panels. This video includes everything from stripping the old stain, to bleaching the wood, and finally applying a new stain.

For this example, privacy panels are being used instead of a traditional style fence, but the exact same process applies. Stained vertical portions tend to last longer than compared to horizontal structures such as a deck where higher traffic is seen along with standing water or moisture. More solid colored type stains, when they get older will have a greater chance to peal, vs a more transparent stain which soaks into the wood more.


  • stain stripper
  • 2 brushes
  • plastic bucket
  • rubber gloves
  • safety glasses
  • pressure washer
  • water supply
  • wood stain
  • palm sander with 80 grit sandpaper
  • compressed air and broom
  • wood bleach

Step 1: Using Stripper

First, the old stain will need to be stripped and a wood stain stripper is used for this. Dump the desired amount into a plastic bucket. Any of the projects shown in this video can be purchased at your local hardware, big box, or paint supplier stores. The stripper is a stronger chemical, so it’s a good idea to have any plants or areas you do not want to stripper to come in contact with covered up. The grass below the panels was not affected by the stripper when it was washed away. It’s important to also wear the proper protective gear such as rubber gloves.

Step 2: Applying Stripper to the Wood

Using a brush, apply it to the surface. Do not work in direct sunlight where the stripper can dry, always keep the surface wet with the stripper and you can continue to agitate the surface every few minutes. The stripper only needs to remain on the surface for about 30 minutes until it’s required to be removed.

Step 3: Washing Away the Old Stain

Using a pressure washer on the widest can setting, wash away the old stain and stripper. You’ll need to be careful with the amount of pressure used as this can damage the wood. Softwoods tend to be more delicate than compared to hard wood. These panels are made up of a mix between cedar, pine, and spruce. If you find some stain leftover when you’re done using the pressure washer, allow the wood to dry and apply more stripper.

Step 4: Mixing the Wood Bleach

Considering some of the stain was worn off, some of this wood was left unprotected and greying of the wood can be present. Amongst the trees, there is also the chance of staining or even just mildew. To tackle this, a wood bleach is used. For this I am using what was supplied with the stripper, this is a citrus based environmentally friendly product. Simply pour the granular substance into a spray, mix the correct amount of water based on the instruction and apply it to the dried wood. Agitation of the surface can be done using a course brush but isn’t necessarily needed. Doing this directly in the sun isn’t a big deal, but it’s best to get the surface wet. Allow the bleaching product to soak in for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 5: Applying the Wood Bleach

The wood bleach was applied was a regular weed spray. After that soak in period is up, use a pressure washer on the widest fan setting to wash off the panel. Trying to go with the grain, start from the top and work your way down. Allowing the panels to dry until the next day, the wood must be fully dry before a stain is applied.

Step 6: Sanding the Wood

Before that stain, unfortunately, due to pressure washing, wood fibers will be lifted and will need to be sanded. To remove these wood fibers and smoothen the surface, a palm sander can be used with 80 grit sandpaper. Evenly go over the surface, the 80 grit should remove those fibers quite quickly and you’ll still be left with a clean finish. Blow or sweep off the wood to remove any dust before applying a stain if your choice.

Step 7: The Stain

For a stain, this is based on your choice. It’s best to pick a better quality stain as it will have a longer life and will most likely be much more durable. Due to Canadian regulations, stains available here were changed over to more of an environmentally option. This is a water based stain and is a two-step application. Ensure the stain is thoroughly mixed, then apply it to the surface using a brush.

Step 8: Applying the Stain

The first coat will soak into the wood, so more stain tends to be required in this step. Stain on vertical surfaces tend to last longer than what you may find on a deck because water can’t sit on the surface and there is not only stain on both sides protecting each side of the wood, but also airflow too. Allow the first coat to drive for about an hour, then apply the second coat. This second coat is instead as a sealer, to provide a water-resistant barrier.

Step 9: All Done!

While the posts were pressure treated, they do have a slightly darker appearance but overall with proper prep and even with the difference in wood types, you can see the panel components match very well.

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