Basic Wood Fence Repair Tips

April 12, 2018

Because wood fences are susceptible to environmental wear over time, it’s important to know some basic repairs you can do yourself to extend its lifespan. This can range from repairing basic surface damage, replacing boards, or adding extra support to a post.

Basic Damage

If there are some minor cracks or knotholes in your fence, you can easily fix this with just a bit of wood filler or putty. Granted, these fixes will be noticeable unless you stain or paint your fence afterwards. Here’s how to fix a knothole with wood putty:

  • Start by sanding the inside of the hole with coarse sandpaper. Then wipe away any remaining sawdust or dirt. It’ll be easier for the putty to stay put if the area you apply it to is rough.
  • Fill the hole by applying the putty with a 1-inch wide putty knife. You’ll want a bit of putty out of the hole and on the surrounding area for support. Don’t worry about lumps as you’ll be sanding it down later. Once the putty is evenly distributed on both sides, let it dry for 12-24 hours after application.
  • After the putty has dried, take medium grit sandpaper to even out the putty with the rest of the fence.

This method will work to fill holes or cracks in your fence. It’s best to do this if you plan on staining a fence but want to do some minor repairs beforehand. Of course, it’s important to keep the weather in mind, as you don’t want it to rain while waiting the 12-24 hours for the putty to dry.

Board Replacement

If a few boards on your fence are damaged or warped, you can replace them with new ones, rather than replacing the entire fence. Start by finding the measurements for your boards so you can get the right amount of lumber to replace them. You should be able to find boards for your fence at your local hardware store or lumber yard.

Remove the damaged boards with a crowbar, being careful not to damage any adjacent boards or the railings. Once the damaged boards have been removed, line up the new boards and mark where you’ll be nailing them to the railing. Nail the new boards to the railing using either a hammer or nail gun.


While replacing the entire fence post is recommended if there’s serious structural damage, such as a rotting or broken post. You can also add some extra support to posts that have minor damage. The simplest solution is to use metal post base, which can be bought for around $15-$20.

To use the brace to reinforce your fence post, line it up on the side of your post that needs reinforcing. You want the bracket to be touching the post, and then hammer it into the ground with a 4 lb sledgehammer until it has been inserted into the concrete base. Afterwards you’ll nail or screw the metal base to the undamaged portion of wooden fence post.

These tips will help you extend the lifespan of your fence before replacing it. However, if there’s serious structural damage to the fence, you’ll want to consider replacement. Not only are damaged fences a potential safety hazard, but you may even end up spending more trying to repair it. You can read our post on knowing when to repair or replace your fence here.

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