Properly cared for and regularly maintained, a well-constructed wood fence should last for decades. But it’s essential to check wood fences for damage, particularly after storms or very wet or windy weather. At very least, you want to give your wood fence an annual checkup.
Checking for Damage on a Wood Fence
Check for damage in a systematic way.
The most common damage is in the form of rotting posts and railings, boards, sidings, or panels that have come loose. It doesn’t really matter which order you check the wood, but if, for instance, you start with the posts, check them all first before moving onto the railings, or vice versa.
Once you have checked for damage, various elements of the fence may have to be repaired or replaced.
If plants are growing against or next to the fence, it’s a good idea to start by cutting these back. Plants can be quite destructive and in many instances, they are the cause of damage.
Unless the fence is overgrown, if posts have broken you will see this immediately. More likely damage is likely to be below ground or at ground level where wood has decayed. Dig around the base of all the posts to about four inches. Take care that you don’t damage any of the posts with whatever sharp tool you are using.
Also, check the alignment of the posts to make sure they are still plumb (they should be at 90 degrees to the ground). Realign them if necessary.
Examine the rails, boards, and any panels there may be. Checks screws and nails and look out for any splits in the wood. Sometimes hardware starts to rust. Even if it hasn’t caused any damage other than discoloration to the wood, the metal should be removed and replaced to prevent ongoing damage.
Walk along the fence and push against it. This action will immediately reveal any loose or wobbly elements, even if they aren’t badly damaged. Again, early action will prevent expensive repairs down the line.
Tips to Prevent Wood Fences From Being Damaged
If you already have a wood fence there is a chance that some of these tips may have been ignored, particularly if the fence was already installed when you bought or moved into the house. But, in most cases, there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of damage.
- Never put fence posts directly into the ground. Soil contains lots of moisture which, in turn, is the primary reason wood rots. Also, if there is ground movement, the posts may move too, in which case they may begin to tilt over time. Instead, concrete the posts into the ground. This will protect them.
- Plants usually look great growing alongside wood fences, but they can be the devil in disguise because they are often the greatest cause of rot due to the moisture they attract. Rather play safe and leave some space between wood fences and garden beds.
- Stain and/or seal the wood to protect it from moisture. Paint will also protect the wood, but if it starts to peel or flake it will have to be stripped and repainted. Sealer is generally a more viable option.
If you need assistance replacing or repairing your wood fence, or you want to have a new one installed, call Natural Enclosures today for a free estimate, no matter big or small the job may be.