Rain, snow, sleet, hail… our fences deal with a lot. Despite the bad weather, every homeowner wants to see their fence still standing at the end of the day. Unfortunately, fence damage is bound to happen from time to time, especially when you add high winds into the mix.
Knowing that fence repairs are expensive and time-consuming, what can you do to help your fence have a fighting chance on those gusty days?
We have many years of experience building, maintaining, and fixing fences and have picked up a few tricks of the trade to help cedar fences stand strong longer.
Prior to Installing Your Fence
A well-built fence starts with proper planning. Building a fence is a big endeavor, and the last thing you want to do is have to build it twice. Investing in your fence upfront is the best way to increase its longevity and ensure it can withstand the elements. If you live in a particularly windy or stormy area, you need to consider how that wind is going to affect the fence before you break ground.
- What type of fencing materials are best for your specific climate?
- What quality of building materials, such as fasteners and screws, will you use?
- Will your fence posts be anchored in concrete (perhaps even mixed concrete)?
- How far apart will you place your posts from one another?
- How deep will you dig when creating your fence post holes?
- What will be the layout of your fence?
- How many rails will you incorporate into your fence design?
- What is your budget and how much do you want to spend?
These specifications make all the difference when building a fence. If you want a fence that will hold up in a strong wind storm, you must give it a fighting chance by thinking about what you can do to make your fence sturdy and durable from the get-go.
Keep in mind that fencing designs that allow a pathway for the wind to pass through will provide less wind resistance. With gaps between the boards, a picket fence is often a good choice in high wind areas. Incorporating lattice into your fence can also be a good choice for allowing wind to pass through.
If you want more privacy, you may want to consider fencing patterns like a shadowbox where neighboring pickets are mounted on alternating sides of the fencing rails.
During the Installation Process
Now it’s time to build, and many homeowners feel this is the most difficult stage of a fencing project. You have to follow through on your plans, even when you run into obstacles. Here’s the next set of questions to consider:
- What precautions are you taking to support your fence posts when drying in the concrete?
- How close will the bottom rail or bottom portion of your fence be to the ground to prevent fence rot and deterioration?
- How are you addressing uneven or sloped ground?
- Does water gather in certain areas throughout your yard that could potentially weaken your fence posts?
- Did you mark and measure the layout of your fence line?
- Are you using the correct hardware for your particular fence type, such as stainless steel hinges or galvanized screws and nails?
Taking the time to do the job right will pay off in the end. There are especially when that big wind storm moves through and your fence is still standing afterward. Your fence posts are the connection between your fencing panels and the ground. It is crucial to set them properly if you want a strong fence.
The general guideline for fence posts is to install them three feet deep. However, in a high wind area, you may want to sink them even deeper. Posts should be secured with concrete. You may also choose to use additional hardware to stabilize your fence posts
Once the Installation is Complete
Just when you think the job is over, don’t forget that fence maintenance is extremely important as well. Winds are unforgiving, and a run-down fence is susceptible to more damage compared to a fence in great condition. You need to think about:
- If you chose to build a wood fence (compared to say a vinyl or metal fencing material), how often will you paint or stain your fence to upkeep its integrity?
- Have any posts, rails, or fence boards started to rot and need replacing?
- Do you need to reinforce certain areas of the fence that appear to be more prone to damage?
For the ultimate protection against wind damage, you also need to be aware of the condition of your yard. Consider the following:
- Do you have large items, like patio furniture or a trampoline, that could strike and break your fence if high winds moved them?
- Do you have large trees or old trees with overhanging branches that could smash your fence if broken off in a windstorm?
- Do you have a gate not closing or locking properly that could swing open and hit into your fence?
A Proactive Approach
In the end, a (1) well-designed, (2) well-built, and (3) well-maintained fence is the best kind of fence to withstand high winds. Before you think about skimping on these three important steps, consider the consequences of not taking a proactive approach to protecting your fence against wind damage. While it may cost you more in the beginning, you are sure to save yourself money by limiting repair costs down the road.
Plus, a broken fence is simply asking for more trouble. What if a broken fence piece flies off in the wind and crashes into a window, car, person, or home? When you don’t take the necessary precautions to create a stable fence, you risk the chance of incurring costly repairs to nearby structures, humans, or vehicles.