Nothing is cast in stone – especially not fences!
Regardless of the material they are made of fences will eventually start to deteriorate in one way or another. But we can stop almost all forms of degeneration and decay by simply following a good maintenance plan that keeps our fences not only looking good but also prevents them from falling foul of nature and weather conditions.
Ultimately, you need to restore your fence before you get to the stage where you need to rip it out and replace it.
What Affects Fencing and Causes it to Deteriorate
Moisture is a big baddie when it comes to fencing. It makes wood rot and causes metal to rust. Even tough vinyl fencing is affected by moisture. While it won’t cause it to disintegrate it often acts as a catalyst to mold that can discolor the surface.
Wind can also cause a lot of damage, especially when fencing isn’t firmly seated in the ground. Generally, posts and poles should be encased in concrete, or set on a concrete foundation. If they aren’t, the footing depth needs to be increased to cope with estimated maximum wind loads in various areas. Snow load should also be taken into account when calculating the depth of footings.
The sun can also cause deterioration of some materials, particularly wood. This is because the harmful UV rays of the sun dry the wood out, which in turn can cause it to crack and break.
Fence Repair and Restoration Tips
As always, maintenance is key. Even the best built fences need maintenance, and if there is any damage caused by weather or other factors repairs should be tackled immediately to prevent further deterioration.
In any case, it’s a good idea to check your fence annually, preferably in spring.
- Check all posts and poles for rot or any other form of damage. The first signs of decay often show at ground level, so dig about four inches below the ground to see if there are any problems. Repair or replace rotten or damaged posts and poles.
- Check the alignment of posts and poles with a torpedo level or carpenter’s combination square. Wind, snow, and unstable ground can all cause posts and poles to tilt or sink further into the ground, particularly if they haven’t been cast in concrete. Realign or reset them if necessary.
- Check siding and rails to make sure they haven’t come loose. If they have, fix with nails, bolts, or screws, depending on the construction method originally used.
- Irrespective of the material used, if you have planted alongside your fence check that creepers and climbers, or small branches of trees haven’t forced their way into joints. Chainlink fencing can be badly affected if plants grown alongside them are not kept in check, as many types (especially creepers and climbers) will grow through the holes. Large shrubs and trees can also push against the fence and destabilize it.
- Wood fences should be repainted if the old coating has started to peel or blister. Similarly, those that have been stained and/or sealed should be regularly recoated to improve resistance to water and to prevent the wood from drying out.
The longer you leave damaged fences and ignore maintenance issues, the more work you are likely be faced with, and the more likely you are to have to replace the fence or parts of it.
If you aren’t able to tackle maintenance jobs yourself, you’ll find it pays to commission a professional company to do the work for you. If you live in Georgia, Atlanta-based Natural Enclosures will repair your old fence or install a new one. The company also has a staining and sealing service for wooden fences. Contact us today for a quotation.