We’ve all seen it happen. A newly-installed wood fence goes up. It’s strong and sturdy. It’s beautiful, well-constructed, and looks incredible.
Then, the fence begins to deteriorate. The sun, rain, and snow break down the integrity of the wood. Insects and pests invade the wood. Mold, mildew, and algae fester in the fibers.
This scenario signals the end to a countless number of fences all across the United States. Routine maintenance is needed to maintain the strength and integrity of a wood fence. If you want a long-lasting fence, you must care for it.
What can you do to maintain your wood fence? Here are five simple suggestions:
1. Seal and Stain Your Fence
This recommendation is all about protecting your wood fence before it begins to rot. You significantly extend the life of your fence when you take precautions to safeguard the wood from elements that harm it.
A sealer and stain both help preserve a fence, but be aware that not all stains contain a protective sealant. A sealant is important to repel unwanted moisture, while a stain protects against harmful UV rays in addition to its water-repelling qualities. A sealant is clear and transparent, which will not cover up the natural wood color and grain pattern. A stain physically changes the color of the wood.
2. Power Wash and Clean Your Fence
Fence panels collect dirt, dust, and grass. Algae, fungi, and mold also like to gather and grow on wood. Power washing your fence is an effective way to rinse it all off. In fact, if you plan to seal or stain your fence, you definitely should consider a power wash beforehand. Painting over an already contaminated, infested, or rotted fence will not solve the problem or kill the source.
When it comes to cleaning a fence, there are multiple methods that work. Give your fence a good power wash first. Then, use a diluted bleach solution or vinegar to attack lingering green or black patches. Select either bleach or vinegar, but do not combine the two. Bleach and vinegar is a hazardous chemical combination that should never be used. You can also scrub your fence with baking soda. Don’t forget to wear protective gear to keep your skin and eyes safe.
3. Keep Plants and Water Off Your Fence
Plants hold moisture and stay moist for extended periods of time. If you have plants lining your fence, remember that wet plants mean a wet fence. That moisture accumulates on the fence, and over time, the prolonged moisture exposure will cause the wood to rot.
Sprinklers are a cause for concern too. You can guarantee a wood fence will feel the effects of repeated sprinkler water hitting the panels day after day, week after week. Set your sprinklers so that they do not spray directly onto your fence to avoid water damage.
4. Examine and Repair Your Fence
Regular visual checks of your fence can help you catch small problems before they escalate into big problems. Look top to bottom, around the edges, and where hardware is located. Keep your eyes peeled not just for cracks or broken pieces, but also look for signs of insect infestations or fungus overgrowth on each fence board.
When you notice damage, act quickly and make repairs in a timely manner. It’s worth your time and money. Would you rather pay for the cost of minor repairs here and there, or have to fork out the cost for an entirely new fence?
5. Choose High-Quality Products to Build Your Fence
Build it right and your fence will last significantly longer. Okay, this point is not necessarily about maintaining your already-installed fence. It’s more about the decisions you make before you install a fence. Invest in high-quality wood, pick the correct hardware to put it all together, and then construct your fence properly.
It is important to note that sometimes a fence is past the point of repair. If a fence has not been regularly maintained and managed, the damage may be too great. For example, a power wash won’t be a helpful tool if the physical force of power washing will knock your fence right over. If it’s time to replace your fence, choose quality wood and fasteners that will hold up to the elements with a little TLC.
Your fence is an investment worth protecting. A fence is designed to provide privacy, security, and safety. It can’t do those things when it is not maintained.
Wear and tear is a natural occurrence. You can’t avoid insects, sunrays, and inclement weather. A fence is not invincible, but you can take measures that significantly extend the life, beauty, and strength of your fence. You won’t regret it.