Steps to Clean your Aluminum Fences

aluminum fences  are  great investment, but like any investment, it should be maintained and cared for. Here are some tips to help you keep your fence looking like new. Wooden fences require at least annual maintenance: painting, mending, and replacing posts and rails. For large homes, this is often a strenuous seasonal chore. For businesses with large areas of property, it can be a full-time job. Thankfully, aluminum fences are not susceptible to the wear and tear of weather and insects, which means they can last longer and require far less maintenance. One malady that affects all types of fences though is dirt.

How to Clean Dirty Aluminum Fences

Dust is not harmful to your fence. Neither is dirt by itself. The problem is, dirt can all too often contain fertilizer, lawn treatment chemicals, or grass clippings which may fade or stain the paint on your fence. Even if it does not mar your paint, it makes your fence look incredibly unattractive. Poorly maintained and unattractive fences defeat the purpose of spending money on good aluminum fences that look more appealing and last longer than other types of fences. So, to get your money’s worth out of them, how do you best clean and maintain them?

Simple Cleaning Solutions

For small yards, one of the simplest solutions you may have is to hook up a long garden hose and rinse off your fence from top to bottom and on both sides. If you just spray it from the bottom to the top or just spray it randomly, you will create rundown marks where the dirt from the top did not make it all the way off the fence. These streaks could make it look worse in places than it did before you started rinsing, so be sure to start and the top and work your way down. If you find areas that are too caked or stained with dirt for the hose to sufficiently clean them, wash them with a sponge and some mild dish soap and water. Use a small bucket to mix the soap and water together, rather than applying the soap directly to the fence. After getting the dirt off, rinse all the soap off, again from top to bottom so you will not end up with any soapy residue or buildup on your fence. Dried dish soap on the surface of your fence may damage it. Additionally, if you live in an area near the ocean or have your fence exposed to salt, it is a good idea to spray the fences down regularly to prevent salt deposits from forming on the fence. Once you finish rinsing your fence, you may dry it with a soft towel or let it air dry.

Harmful Cleaning Chemicals to Avoid

Not all cleaners are suitable for cleaning your fence. Avoid any kind of bleach-like household cleaner that would fade or damage paint. Do not use any cleaner with solvents, acids, or other harsh chemicals. Stay away from industrial cleaning chemicals as well. Also, be sure to use soft scrubbing materials when washing the fence. Very abrasive items such as steel wool will damage the paint causing discoloration on your fence.

Chips and Scratches

What do you do if you find a chip or scratch in the paint of your fence? Most aluminum fences are made of high-quality aluminum and finished with a powder coat paint. If you find a small scratch or paint chip, you can patch it up with an exterior paint made for aluminum products. If it is a bigger chip or wider scratch, you may want to gently sand the area with fine sandpaper before applying the paint. Be careful not to sand much more than half an inch outside the damaged area because you only want to smooth the surface out. If you go too far, you may end up with a large, slightly off-colored patch on your hands.

Cleaning the Extra Bits

Most of us may think of fences as basically posts and rails. However, there are usually a few extra parts that need some extra attention. Unlike your fence panels, your gates move back and forth on a regular basis, which means they are susceptible to more wear and tear. Moving parts especially can get out of alignment as they go through temperature changes. Be sure to check and adjust your gates each Spring as necessary. While you are adjusting it, make sure to oil the hinges and tighten any loose screws. The friction caused by misaligned gates will damage them more and more over time. If you keep the gate secured in place so that the wind does not blow it back and forth, it will also last much longer. Sometimes the posts and rails themselves can get out of alignment. If the changing weather and temperatures cause your fences to tilt slightly, you may need to level them off and tamp them back into the ground again. Finally, I know it is tempting, but using a weed trimmer at the base of the fence post will mar your paint down there. If you choose to use weed killer near them, be sure not to spray any on the fence itself.