Care Tips for Your Fence

June 1, 2021

A fence is a big investment for your home and your property. It’s recommended that you use high-quality lumber and have your fence professionally installed if you want it to look great and last longer. However, even fences built from high-quality materials will need regular maintenance. 

Wood fences are susceptible to environmental wear over time. It’s wise to periodically check your fence’s condition and address any issues. In this article we share some basic upkeep and repair tips for your wood fence. 

Why Your Fence Needs Upkeep

Some wood types are more durable and resistant to environmental damage than others. For example, cedar and redwood are typically more resistant to rot and insect infestation in comparison to other common choices such as pine or spruce. You can learn more about the differences between common fence lumber in our post here.

However, every fence will deteriorate over time due to environmental factors like rain, wind, insects and more. Things like warping, splintering, and discoloration can all occur. Keeping up with the maintenance of your fence will help prolong its life and help you avoid costly fixes down the line.

Sealing and Staining Your Fence

Sealants and stains not only prevent water from seeping into the wood of your fence but they also will help prevent discoloration on your fence from the sun’s UV rays. 

You need to wait for a new fence to dry completely before you can apply stain. The time it takes to fully dry will depend on a variety of factors like the amount of rain, the sun exposure, the humidity, etc. Typically, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If your fence has been previously stained you should power wash your fence and apply a stain stripper to remove the old stain before adding new stain. You can read a how-to guide for DIY staining here.

Repairing Cracks and Knotholes 

Sometimes your wood fence can get minor cracks or knotholes. These are usually easily fixable by using wood filler or putty. Here’s how to fix a knothole with wood putty:

  • Sand the inside of the hole with coarse sandpaper. 
  • Wipe away any remaining sawdust or dirt (it’s 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. Make sure you put a little 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, allow for 12-24 hours of drying time after the 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 (also important to note that these fixes will be noticeable unless and until you stain or paint your fence after.) Check the weather forecast before beginning this process, as you don’t want it to rain while the putty is drying.

Fence Board Damage

If only one or a few boards on your fence are damaged or warped, you can replace just those instead of replacing the entire fence. To replace the boards yourself, you need to find the measurements of your boards so you can buy the right lumber to replace them. 

Once you have the lumber pieces, you should remove the damaged boards with a tool like a crowbar, being careful not to damage any adjacent boards or the railings. Once you remove the damaged boards, line up the new boards and mark where you’ll be nailing them to the railing with a pencil. Nail the new boards to the railing using either a hammer or nail gun.

Fence Posts

If you have minor damage to one of your posts, you can add some extra support to make sure the fence stays stable. 

Typically,  when posts are embedded into the concrete the solution is to add a second 4x6 post or totally replace the post. 

If the fence has brackets, the brackets can be replaced. If that is the case, line up the post base on the side of your post that needs reinforcing. Make sure the bracket is touching the post. Then, hammer it into the ground with a sledgehammer until it inserts into the concrete base. When that is complete, nail or screw the metal base to the undamaged portion of the fence post. It’s also advised that you replace the post if you’re replacing the bracket.

When to Call the Experts

Keep in mind that even a seemingly simple repair job can be complicated if you’re not an expert craftsman. Using power tools can be dangerous if you’re not familiar with them and your fence may not end up looking how you want it to if you endeavor to repair it yourself. 

It also may be time to replace your entire fence. If more than a few sections are damaged, warped, sagging, etc. then it is probably wise to opt for a full replacement. Besides no longer looking good, severely damaged fences can pose a safety hazard.

Reputable fence companies will also offer a warranty for your fence, so be sure to see if your fence is still under warranty before you pay to replace it- and always inquire about the warranty before investing in a fence with a new company.

If you're curious about pricing for wood fences, make sure to check out our guide to wood fence costs.

There are many other considerations when deciding whether it’s better to repair your fence or replace it entirely. You can read more about that here.

Ready to get started? Join the over 10,000 happy customers who have had fences built by Ergeon. We specialize in fence installation and repair and hold a 4.6 average rating!

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