Are you the proud new owner of a fence? Maybe you’ve purchased a home that has already come with a fence, or you’re thinking about installing one but aren’t sure about the care investment it requires.
You’re in luck; in this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about fence maintenance, repairs, and how you can prevent damage to your fence in the first place.
Why Fence Maintenance and Repair is Important
Fences are an iconic part of the home, helping you create a backyard oasis in any neighborhood.
The privacy a fence provides is an important aspect, but it is also useful in marking property lines, keeping pets in, and helping create a more peaceful and contained environment.
At least, that can all happen if you keep your fence maintained correctly.
Fence maintenance is important because it helps keep the fence in top condition, whether it needs to keep your home private – holes and broken boards can undermine that privacy – or if it needs to secure the premises from potential crime. For some fences, it’s more about the aesthetic value they bring, or the practical purposes like keeping pets and children inside the property.
For any fence to fulfill its duty, it must be well maintained. A cracked, weathered fence is less able to withstand damage. This means that it won’t be able to keep out unwanted individuals as well and can easily be subverted by those you’re trying to keep in; everyone knows about that neighborhood dog that keeps digging under the fence gate or slipping through broken boards to get out.
Worse, your realtor might have told you that a fence can raise the property value of a home, but that’s only if it’s been well-maintained. If the fence is bowing or broken in any way or showing signs of its age, it is only likely to bring down the house value as potential buyers will look at it as a necessary fix or removal to fix the property.
Maintenance Tips for Every Type of Fence
Every type of fence requires different types of maintenance depending on the type of environment it must withstand year-round, the type of material it sees, and the amount of preventative care it is given.
Regular cleaning is an important part of removing built-up dirt, grime, and mildew. Even if you do not have a wooden fence, a quick cleaning can keep the fence looking fresh and heathy.
Fences made from separate panels may need to have panels checked to ensure that they are still properly attached to posts, as detached panels can put a lot of pressure on the posts and cause whole sections of the fence to bow.
Ensuring that hardware along the fence is in good condition, such as gate latches or post attachments is an important part of maintaining the overall health of the fence as well.
Lastly, for fences that require painting, a good paint or stain that is UV and moisture-resistant is essential to maintain the overall longevity of the fence through harsh weather.
What Common Repairs Do Fences Need?
Every fence needs to be repaired at some point, no matter what. Some materials, like wrought iron, naturally last a lot longer, but they come with their own drawbacks such as a lack of privacy or lack of aesthetic appeal.
From environmental factors alone such as UV rays from the sun or frequent storms during season changes, fences will sustain some measure of damage and need repair.
This is a natural and normal part of having a fence around the property and should be expected to occur no matter the material, which makes having a fence repair professional on hand more important.
Over time, wood degrades and needs repairs to help keep it capable of withstanding the weather, while vinyl will need the occasional extra post or pressure washing to keep it looking pristine.
The annual inspection is the best way to maintain your fence in a way that is both preventative, and proactive. Before you notice damages, like severely cracked boards or bowing panels, an annual inspection can spot smaller problems.
These smaller issues tend to indicate a risk for the larger issues if left untreated. Fortunately, repairing the small issues is much more cost effective than repairing the larger issues once they become a problem.
Even with an annual inspection, regular fence maintenance is important.
Regular maintenance may change depending on the type of fence you have, but for wooden or composite fences, this typically includes realigning any posts if necessary, re-staining or painting the fence if it is weather-worn and ensuring that gates and latches are securely and properly aligned.
For vinyl fences, a regular pressure washing is important to ensure that it is kept pristine, and any weathered or broken boards should be replaced. Likewise, any sagging or bowing should be addressed by realigning the posts.
Chain-link fences may require new panels if they are broken or detached from the posts, while wrought iron may occasionally need rust brushed off along the grooves.
It is important to repair damages as soon as they become an issue. With prompt attention, repairs become smaller and more manageable, and do less damage to the overall structure of the fence.
Damages are common after an animal escapes, or if the fence is impacted in any way, by vehicles or lawn equipment or falling tree limbs.
Sometimes, damages are sustained simply over the course of time; erosion in the soil can cause sagging, and strong heat waves can crack wooden boards.
No matter what the damages are, quick reparation will help extend the lifetime of the fence and minimize the amount of repairs necessary.
How Do I Keep My Fence Looking New?
The best way to keep your fence looking new is to perform regular preventative maintenance.
When issues are discovered, prompt repairs will keep the issue – such as sagging or tilting – from spreading to other parts of the fence, making repairs less expensive but also keeping your fence in as good condition as possible.
In addition to prompt repairs and preventative maintenance inspections, wood and composite fences can be kept looking new by re-staining or painting them regularly. Metal fences should be treated with a rust-resistant coating if possible or necessary, and vinyl fencing can benefit from a regular pressure washing to keep any dirt from caking onto the surface.
How Do You Preserve a Fence?
Preserving a fence even in the face of severe weather is difficult. The important thing is to ensure that your stain or paint is semi-fresh; within the last two or three years, but not so fresh that it hasn’t dried before storm season.
For some areas that see a lot of severe weather, wood fences do not last long because they are poorly painted, with edges or bottoms missed because they are not visible. This allows moisture to seep up through the unprotected parts of the board.
Areas that see harsh heat waves that threaten to crack and dry out boards should have staining or painting re-done once every one to two years with a UV-resistant paint.
The best way to preserve a fence in the face of harsh weather is to install a fence that is more capable of withstanding these pressures, such as composite, vinyl, or metal fencing.
What is the Best Fence Protection?
To properly protect a wood fence from the elements, it’s important to have a good stain that can help seal out moisture and protect the wood from harmful UV rays and scratches from animals.
If you love the natural look of an untreated fence, there are plenty of stains that will allow you to keep that natural look with a no-color formula, or even help enhance it by providing a richer natural color. Alternatively, you can paint the fence with a strong outdoor paint, which can come in a wide array of colors of your choosing.
The important part of choosing a paint or stain that protects your fence is its ability to lock out UV rays and moisture, as well as protect from scratches and scrapes.
Vinyl or metal fencing does not typically need additional protections as these materials are already weather-resistant.
Proper Maintenance Keeps Your Fence Looking Great
Sometimes, you look at one of your neighbors’ homes, and their fence looks like it’s always pristine, untouched by time. Even if they’ve had the fence for years, it has a rich color and no sign of sagging or bowing. Not even a crack in the boards as far as you can see!
While this might sound like a case of secretive fence replacement over time, it’s actually a mixture of timely repairs and regular fence maintenance.
Maintaining the fence will keep it structurally sound and looking fresh, whether it needs another post dug or a fresh coat of paint. A fence inspection will help catch any issues before they become noticeable, and allow you to get timely repairs made and keep your fence looking just as pristine as your neighbor’s.
Should I Pressure Wash My Fence Before Staining?
For many people, it makes sense to wash something before you stain it; after all, you want the surface cleaner before you apply another coat of stain to it, right?
In most cases, it’s bad for the fence, and you shouldn’t pressure wash it before re-staining.
Wood fences are porous due to the strand-like structure of wood. If the fence has not yet been stained before, or if the old stain is weathered, it’s a good idea to stain the fence to prevent any algae or moisture from the inside of the board so that it doesn’t rot and become brittle.
Unfortunately, if you power wash the fence before doing this, you’ll just send any moisture or mildew deeper into the wood grain, causing more problems for your fence along the way.
Careful washing with the pressure washer on a no-pressure setting, or with a simple hose can wash away caked dirt. Once the fence has dried, you can safely stain it.
There are some exceptions, such as if the previous stain was latex-based and needs to be removed before you can apply a coat of oil-based stain; the two stain types won’t mix, and you’ll end up with drippy coverage.
Should I Hire Someone for Fence Repair?
It is important to always hire someone reliable and experienced for your fence repair project. The expertise you gain by hiring a real fence repair specialist will help add years onto your fence’s lifespan and ensure that it is always in tip-top shape.
While it can seem daunting to hire someone for the first time, Same Day Pros makes the task easier by helping you find licensed contractors who are local to you and ready to take on a new project right away. (1) All you have to do is find the one that’s the right fit for your needs.
The key to choosing the right fencing contractor is to spend time doing research. […] Read online reviews and talk to customer service to get a better feel for the company.
Whether your fence has been damaged by the test of time, a falling tree limb, your beloved dog, or by landscape erosion, there’s a way to fix it in the most cost-effective and least time-consuming way possible, you just need the right people for the job.
- Forbes, How to Hire a Fencing Contractor, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-to-hire-fencing-contractor/