Summer is here, which may mean 1) you’re looking to install a fence around your yard or 2) you’re looking to help your fence recover from the harsh toll of winter weather. We polled a team of professionals to get their advice for building and caring for fences so that they will last long-term. Here’s what they had to say.
Choosing the right material
The first step to having a long-lasting fence is choosing the right material. I personally prefer pressure-treated cedar. Choosing a durable material will reduce the amount of maintenance you have to do and increase the lifespan of your fence right out of the box.
I’d also recommend putting a couple of inches of gravel beneath your fence line. This will help absorb moisture. Otherwise, water will pool in the soil and keep the lower part of your fence wet for much longer, leading to rot and other damage.
You should be inspecting your fence line regularly, at least once a month, to check for any termite mounds or other things that might cause more permanent issues. Remove these as you notice them, or if it’s something you don’t feel confident handling, hire a professional.
Finally, I’d really recommend pressure washing your fence once a year. A deep clean can help reduce the potential for mold, and it will get rid of any pests that may be causing problems.
[Choose] Insect [Resistant] and Long Lasting Materials – Choose wood that is pressure treated and is a natural repellant to insects. A fence should last at least 10-30 years if you choose the right wood. Cedar, cypress, and redwood are all insect-resistant and long-lasting.
Stainless Steel Screws – Spend a little extra money and use stainless steel screws. Steel or coated screws will rust and stain your fence.
Strong Posts – Fences fall like an accordion because the posts fail. Most suggest digging a hole about two feet deep. I would suggest digging it 30 inches or deeper, especially if you are installing a tall and heavy fence.
Stain, No Paint – Staining will bring out the natural color of the wood and protect it from sun and moisture. Painting will lock in moisture and slowly rot the wood over time.
High-quality hardwood material
There are a number of reasons why your fence might need some repairs in the spring, particularly after a harsh winter. One common reason for spring fence repair is for rusting spots, as some material such as wrought iron and chain link fencing rust when exposed to snow and rain. When this is the case, small spots can typically be touched up with rust treatment. However, if it starts to corrode, it will ultimately weaken and reduce the fence’s structural integrity. As soon as you spot rust, I highly recommend you take action and have it repaired and restored.
With that being said, fences can also be sensitive to winter damage. Over time, your fence will naturally begin to show signs of rot, and this can change its aesthetics and its strength. If you notice when wet spots begin to appear, it will cause the wood to soften and eventually to crack. To give yourself the best chance at preventing this, I recommend choosing a high-quality hardwood fencing material that is resistant to decay. It’s also important to make sure it’s pressure-treated with a protective coat of stain. An additional alternative is to repair the fence with a material that can withstand the winter weather more easily, such as vinyl.
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