Using a garden fence preservative will protect fence panels and posts from mould, algae and other biological threats such as insect attack. Deciding on which wood preserver is best largely comes down to colour choice and a preference between water-based or solvent-based wood preservers. Here we explain some of the key differences between preservatives to help you make an informed choice.
Which wood preservative should be used on garden fence panels?
Garden fence preservatives can be easily broken down into 4 types, clear, coloured, solvent-based, and water-based. Although there are a wide range of wood preservatives on the market that are suitable for use on fence panels and posts, they all do a similar job.
Solvent-based fence preservatives
Any solvent-based wood preservative can be used on wooden fence panels meaning that it doesn’t necessarily have to be labelled as a ‘shed and fence preservative’. Solvent-based preservers are generally absorbed easier by fence timbers than water-based products, meaning deeper penetration in to the timber panels. Solvent-based wood preservatives are available in clear and coloured formulations from brands such as Ronseal, Cuprinol and Sadolin.
Characteristics of a solvent-based wood preservers are that the liquid is very thin and has a strong, solvent odour due to the high V.O.C content. Solvent-based preservatives tend to be very thin in consistency and can splash when being poured from the tin. Coloured preservers can stain patios, concrete, stone, slabs and other surfaces so care needs to be taken when pouring.
Water-based fence preservatives
Water-based wood preservers are the modern replacement to traditional solvent-based formulations. Water-based preservers tend to be more environmentally and user friendly due to their low V.O.C content. As with solvent-based preservers, their advanced formulations provide effective treatment against mould, algae, insect attack and wood rot. Water-based wood preservers are available in both clear and coloured formulations and from a range of top name brands.
Characteristics of water based wood preservers are that they tend to have a higher solids content and a low odour due to their low V.O.C content.
Top 4 solvent-based wood preservatives for garden fences
- Ronseal Shed and Fence Preserver: A multi-purpose coloured wood preservative, suitable for wooden fence panels and posts. Protects fence timbers against rot and decay. Eradicates woodworm and protects against wood discolouring fungi and water damage.
- Cuprinol Shed and Fence Protector: Cuprinol Shed & Fence Protector is a lightly tinted, solvent-based formulation that penetrates deep into the wood to give natural, rustic looking colour to both rough sawn and smooth planed timber. It also contains water repellents to help resist rain penetration.
- Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative: A solvent-based wood preservative that offers microporous protection against wood rot, fungi, decay and mould. Available in clear and coloured formulations and ideal for garden fence panels and posts.
- Barrettine Creocote – The modern replacement for traditional Creosote
2 of the best water-based wood preservers for garden fences
- Cuprinol Ultimate Garden Wood Preserver: A water-based, coloured wood preservative treatment for garden sheds, fence panels and other garden wood. Colours and protects exterior wood for up to 5 years with the benefit of UV protection
- Cuprinol Exterior Wood Preserver: A water-based exterior wood preserver for all sawn wood including sheds, fences, cladding, and more. Can be used on previously pressure treated and tanalised wood and provides a water-repellent properties to protect wood against weathering, wood rot and blue stain
Applying a fence preserver
When applying a garden fence preservative it’s worth remembering that both solvent and water-based preservers contain fungicides and biocides to protect fence panels and posts from biological growth such as mould, algae, lichens and insect attack. For this reason it is strongly advised to always wear a suitable mask, old clothes, protective gloves, and eye protection and always follow the manufacturers instructions on the tin.
Top tips before applying a fence preservative
If mould, algae or fungi is already present on fence panels, it must first be treated with a suitable mould and algae cleaner or fungicidal wash, before applying the wood preservative. Preservers are designed to help prevent biological growth but will not kill it if it is already established on the wood. If mould, algae or lichens are already present on the wood, use a suitable fence cleaner to remove mould, algae and lichens.
Although wood preservers are safe for man, plants and animals when fully dry, they are very harmful to aquatic systems and should be kept well away from garden ponds, streams, drains and other water courses. Pets and children should be kept away from the liquid and freshly treated fences until they are dry.
Always cover and protect items and areas not to be treated, especially stone, concrete, plastic surfaces and plants, and especially if applying a coloured preserver. Coloured wood preservers will easily stain these surfaces and could ruin some types of plastic.
Sealing in a fence preservative
Although many (not all) wood preservatives contain a small amount of wax, they don’t always provide long term weather protection. To seal in the wood preserver and provide the best all-round wood protection, garden fences treated with a fence preservative can usually be treated with an exterior wood oil, suitable for garden fences, once the preserver has fully dried, usually after 72 hours. This will help to keep fence panels supple and nourished whilst protecting against water ingress and weathering. Some external wood oils also contain UV filters that will help to preserve the fence colour for longer.
If the fence is going to be treated with a water-based oil, paint or stain. It is important that the preservative does not contain any wax or silicon. Preservers that contain wax will repel water-based top coats and prevent them from adhering to the wood.
Can fence preservatives be spray applied?
This depends on the type of fence preserver being sprayed and also the immediate surroundings. There are several things to consider when spraying a fence. Firstly, many preservers contain biocides and fungicides to protect fences from biological growth and insect attack. Breathing in the fine mist when spraying should be avoided. Another factor is over-spray. Coloured fence preservatives can and will stain porous surfaces such as stone or paved patios, rockeries, pathways and more, and is very difficult, if not impossible to remove.
Not all wood preservers or stains are suitable for spraying due to their viscosity. Many garden pump sprayers are only suitable for thin liquids like water. There are however a couple of sprayers that are specifically designed for spraying garden fence preservers and stains such as those below.
These machines are often designed to only spray a specific product or group of products from the sprayer manufacturer.
- Ronseal Precision Pump Fence Sprayer: For spraying the Ronseal range of Fence Life and Fence Life Plus treatments
- Cuprinol Spray & Brush Pump 2-in-1 Shed and Fence Paint Sprayer: Designed for spraying the Cuprinol Spray Fence Treatment range.
Alternatively, there are a range of electric fence sprayers available but always check that they are compatible with the type of fence preserver or stain that you wish to spray.
Probably the simplest and most common approach approach is to use a block brush. These wide brushes are designed to cover large areas and although painting a large fence can be daunting, with a couple of fence block brushes and some helping hands, the task can get done more quickly.
More information on garden fence care and maintenance
Find further, general information and advice on other garden fence treatments here. Alternatively, you can find out more about specific fence treatments below.
- Before treating any garden fence with a fence preserver, stain, oil or paint, it has to be clean and free of any mould, algae or lichens. Find out which fence cleaner is best to clean and remove these common issues
- Find out about a range of fence paints and colours here. What is a fence paint? The answer isn’t as straight forward as you might think
- An exterior wood oil will protect garden fences from weathering and keep the wood supple and nourished. With a range of clear and coloured wood oils available, which oil-based fence treatment is best? Our guide will help you decide
- Find out about a range of fence stains and colours here. What is a fence stain? As with paints, fence stains are not as straight forward as you might think. What is the difference between a fence paint and a fence stain?
Garden Fence FAQ’s
Can’t find the answer to your garden fence care or maintenance project above? See our frequently asked garden fence questions and answers page, where we try to answer some of the more commonly asked questions relating to garden fence care, maintenance, and fence treatments.