Fences provide security and safety, privacy, and aesthetics to our properties.
These important uses make it vital for you to know how to properly maintain your fence.
Different kinds of fences require different kinds of maintenance.
You need to perform different maintenance on a vinyl fence compared to a wood fence.
Whereas, chain-link fences have very little maintenance needed.
Fence Maintenance Must-do Fixes
Step 1. Assess your fence.
- Determine the maintenance needs. Does it need simple cleaning?
- See if all posts are still straight.
- Check if there are broken or loose boards, leaning posts, cut links, or missing nails.
- Assess for molds, termites, rusting, rotting, dents, and chipped paint.
Pro Tip: Carefully examine each section of your fence. Chances are you will find your fence needs more TLC than you originally thought.
Step 2. Prepare your fence and your supplies.
- Clear the fenced area of grasses and bushes.
- Clean your fences of debris, old paint, rust, and molds.
- Know the general outlook of the weather before you do any work. It is best to work when humidity is low and temperatures are at 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit, with very little chance of rain.
- Set a specific time frame to finish your fences.
- Prepare for extra help and budget.
- Prepare your supplies based on your assessment. Here are some things that you might need to prepare:
- New Wood Boards or Posts (or any replacement materials as needed for your type of fence)
- Protective Sealant
- Rust Remover/Sand Blaster
- Wood/Fence Cleaner
- Protective gear such as gloves and facemasks
- Wood glue
- Paint Stripper
- Wood Preservative
- Stainless Steel Brush or Wire Brush
- Sand Papers
Pro Tip: If you are going to paint your fences, make sure that there is little chance of rain and wind to avoid damage to the paint.
Step 3. Clean your fence.
- Cover the ground around your fence with plastic sheets when using chemical cleaners.
- Remove debris, molds, and mud with steel or wire brush.
When cleaning a wood fence, do not put too much pressure on the brush to avoid damaging your wood panels and posts.
- Remove paints using a paint stripper. Coat your fence from top to bottom. You can use a paintbrush to make sure that all surface area is covered and let the cleaner sit based on the bottle instructions (usually 15-20 minutes), then rinse them off using a pressure washer. Dry your fence for 24 hours.
- For rust, manually remove them by using wire brushes. For residual rust, use a chemical rust remover (use protective gear like gloves, face mask, and goggles).
- To remove mold and algae marks, you can use a simple solution of two parts water and one part chlorine bleach. You can add dish soap to your solution for added cleaning power. Scrub clean your fence using a bristle brush then rinse your fence using a garden hose.
- For other types of fences such as vinyl, aluminum, chain-link, and brick, you will need a soapy cleaning solution, brushes and rags, water, and a little elbow grease for cleaning.
- Make sure that the fence is fully dried before painting, staining, or coating it.
Pro Tip: When using a pressure washer on a wood fence, make sure that you don’t focus on one area for a long time since it will dent and damage your wood boards or panels.
Avoid using vinegar and chlorine together as cleaning agents as they can produce toxic gas.
Step 4. Straighten leaning fences.
Leaning fences are due to damages in posts and rails or because the soil in which they are anchored becomes loose.
Check your fences to see which causes your leaning fence.
- Before you straighten your fence posts, make sure to replace posts and fencing that are broken and rotten.
- Relieve your fence of weights that puts it under pressure.
Remove some panels and rails, and brace your fence before digging into the work of fixing your posts.
- Check if the posts rock more than 1” back and forth. If so, they are the ones that need reinforcements.
- To temporarily prevent further movement of the fence, tie it to a tree or any solid structure.
For a permanent fix on your leaning posts, follow these tips:
- Dig a hole around the post to make room to straighten it.
- Brace the post to straighten it as you fill back soil into the hole.
- Fill the hole back with soil. Tightly pack the soil around the fence using a piece of lumber. Check in after 24 hours to make sure that the soil around the post remains compact. If it appears loose, use the lumber to compact the soil further.
- You can also choose to fill the hole with concrete instead of soil. Check in after 24 hours to check if there are no cracks in the cement.
- Before fixing your posts back, make sure that the posts do not have any cracks, insect damage, water damage, and rot.
If any of these damages are present, the only way to go is to replace them entirely.
Pro Tip: Before you put back your posts, protect them using protective sealants to avoid damages from insects, mold, and water.
Step 5. Replace broken boards and parts.
Once you are done fixing your posts, you can reattach rails and boards. For damaged rails and boards, replace them entirely.
- Measure your replacement boards.
- Determine where you will put each piece.
- Drill your holes.
- Attach your panels or boards.
Step 6. Protect against further damage and wood rot.
You can protect your fence by applying protective coats such as stains, protective sealants, and weather-resistant paints.
- Staining can be expensive at first due to the amount of stain you have to use but it requires less time before you re-apply the stain.
- Painting your fence is more economical at first than staining but requires frequent maintenance.
- You can prevent wood rot and damages at the bottom of the posts by removing dirt touching the fence and applying a stain or a protective sealant.
- Wood fences need a little more care during the winter season. Clean them and brush on some protective clear sealant to protect them from snow and water damage.
- For metal fences, protect them with rust-proof paint or coats. Posts that are in constant contact with dirt must always be sealed.
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Step 7. Fix the gate.
Your fence gates could be leaning or sagging for multiple reasons.
Here are some possible solutions to fix a leaning gate:
- Check the hinges and replace them if necessary.
- You can use a turnbuckle and cable to adjust the gates. There are different types of turnbuckles so follow the steps on the packaging for installation.
- If the gate is still leaning or sagging, check your gate posts. If it’s the posts that are leaning, follow the steps similar to the above-mentioned process of adjusting a regular fence post.
- If they are out of square, you can also use a turnbuckle and cable or you can shim them by inserting a piece of wood under the bottom hinge.
Simply remove the hinge, insert a thin piece of wood that would square the gate, and re-attach the hinge with its screws going through the thin piece of wood.
Always check your gate’s hardware.
Lube up the hinges, and remove and prevent rust.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What fence repair should I avoid?
- Avoid fines by making sure you stay on your property. Check your local zoning laws.
- Not replacing damaged parts, especially if it’s damaged by insects and molds. Insects and molds can spread to other undamaged boards or panels.
- Not using the right materials. Always consider your local weather, activities, as well as if you have pets when choosing materials for your fence.
- Placing the posts on the wrong depth or using the wrong anchor material.
- Know where to anchor your posts on dirt or concrete. The right material and depth matter in the longevity of your fences.
- Ignoring small damages like cracks. For cracks, simply apply wood glue to make sure that your boards and panels live longer.
- How often should I do maintenance on my fence?
- Different kinds of fences require different maintenance periods. Generally, you should check for grasses under your fence quite frequently.
- Your wooden or bamboo fence must be sealed or coated with a protective sealant once every three years.
To keep it from rotting, cut vines that are clinging to them regularly. Immediately replace broken and rotting panels.
- If your fence is painted, you can repaint them every 2 to 3 years depending on the wear.
- For painted iron fences to have long longevity, clean the fence with soap at least every six months to prevent rust build-up.
- Lubricate gate hinges at least once a year or if it is already squeaking.
- Vinyl and chain-link fences have to be cleaned at least once a year and repainted every 2 to 3 years depending on the signs of wear.
- Immediately repair fences damaged by natural calamities.
Fences are important for our properties for privacy and security.
Knowing how to maintain and do simple fixes on them will prevent us from the massive cost of installing new ones.
Always look out for your fences and occasionally check them for minimal damages that can be quickly fixed.
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