Wood fences are a common choice by homeowners due to their affordability and natural appearance. However, as a natural material, wood is susceptible to rot, insect infestation, and general environmental wear over time. Issues such as small cracks can typically be taken care of easily. In the event of larger issues, such as sagging or warping, complete replacement should be considered. In this post we'll discuss common issues, maintaining your fence, and when to replace it.
Over time, environmental factors will cause your wood fence to deteriorate. This includes, warping, splintering, and discoloration. Since the panels will be affected by differing degrees of damage, it's possible to switch out specific panels with new ones. This can lead to a less uniform appearance for the fence, which some people find unsightly.
Fence posts that aren't properly installed are much more likely to experience damage and rot due to moisture or pooling water. While a fence post will be in contact with the ground and moisture no matter what, having the concrete support sloped away from the posts can help prevent pooling water in regular circumstances.
Insect infestation is another potential issue with wood fences and should be dealt with as soon as possible to minimize damage to your fence. Some signs of insect infestation include the appearance of wood shavings or fine powder near your fence. Contacting an exterminator to make sure the infestation is taken care of is recommended. Using treated lumber, or lumber that's naturally resistant to insect infestation can also help avoid this issue.
One of the keys to avoiding common issues with wood fences is to use high quality lumber that's professionally installed. Cedar and redwood are much more durable and resistant to rot and insect infestation in comparison to other common choices such as pine or spruce. This is due to the oils that are present in cedar and redwood. You can learn more about the differences between common fence lumber in our post here.
Even with high quality materials, it's still important to do regular maintenance for your fence. This includes staining or sealing your fence at least every other year, and ideally every year. Patching up small holes or cracks with wood filler or putty can help prevent the holes and cracks from increasing in size and also maintain the appearance of your fence. With proper maintenance, you'll extend the life of your fence and help prevent potentially costly issues down the line.
Typically, if your fence is over a decade old, sagging, or there's damage on at least 20% of the panels, then replacing your fence is recommended. When a significant portion of your fence is already damaged, trying to repair pieces is a bit of a lost cause. The remaining panels will also need to be replaced soon, so you may end up spending more in the long run.
Damage to fence posts is more of a concern as they support the fence panels and could lead to severe structural damage if they were to fall. Rotting posts should be taken care of as soon as possible.
In the event that you simply want a different style of fence for your home, a full replacement is a good idea. There's no need to wait until your fence is falling down before replacing it. Besides being an eyesore, an old fence could potentially be dangerous. Damaged or rotting wood is much more likely to fall down in a storm than a new, sturdy fence.