Talking About Fence Materials

How To Clean And Restore Your Aged Aluminum Fence

After being exposed to the sun, wet weather, and vehicle exhaust, your aluminum fence can become dingy, dirty, and corroded. With the right process, you can remove the layers of grime and oxidation to renew your aluminum fence's exterior or prepare it for painting. Here are instructions to help you in this process.

Remove Chalky Residue 

The aluminum surface of your fence will not form any orange rust on its exterior as other metals can. When aluminum corrodes, it forms a layer of chalky, white residue over its surface. Fortunately, this chalky residue can be cleaned off the surface of your fence with a homemade acid solution to reveal your fence's original exterior and finish. 

To make your own acidic oxidation cleaning solution, mix together equal parts white vinegar and water into a cleaning bucket. Wet a cleaning sponge with the acid solution and wipe the sponge over the surface of the oxidized aluminum fence. For more heavily oxidized surfaces, you may need to repeat the acidic cleaning process several times to remove all the oxidation.

Once you have the oxidation removed and your fence has been restored to its original condition, you can rinse the vinegar and water acid solution from the fence's exterior with your garden hose. If you want to paint your aluminum fence, you can proceed to the preparation step to get your fence ready for this.

Prep for Painting

When you paint an aluminum fence, it is important to remove any dirt, oils, or other residues that may be coating the aluminum's surface, as this will prevent the paint from adhering onto the fence. Although you may have already used an acid solution to remove the exterior oxidation, this will not fully remove any other substances or debris from its surface. And any vinegar solution left behind on your fence's exterior can prevent the paint from adhering and cause it to flake off.

First, use a wire brush to remove any loose pieces of metal or any flaking pieces of old paint, if your fence has been painted in the past. Then, with a plastic scrub brush and some liquid dish soap and water, clean the exterior of your fence to remove substances, such as dirt, mud, bird droppings, or grease. If any mold or mildew is growing on your fence, pour some white vinegar onto a sponge or rag and wipe the mold or mildew from your fence. Be sure to use a cleaning sponge or rag that you can throw away in the trash when you are finished cleaning up any mold and mildew. Rinse the fence clean with water from your garden hose.

After you have rinsed the surface of the fence, immediately wash it with a conversion coating to prepare the surface for paint application. This will create a substrate on the fence's surface to help the paint adhere to the metal. You can find conversion coating at most home improvement and paint supply stores.

Prime and Paint the Fence

First, apply a high-quality primer to your fence, using a roller, brush, or paint sprayer. Depending on the intricacies of your fence's design, you can decide which application process will work best to cover all your aluminum fence's surfaces. 

Apply the primer in two thin coats, rather than one thick coat. This will help prevent the paint from running. Because you prepared the surface with a conversion coating, the primer will fully adhere to the fence's surface and you don't need to worry about it flaking or peeling off. 

After the primer has dried, apply exterior paint over the primer to fully cover the fence's surfaces. 

These instructions can help you to restore the look of your aged aluminum fence.