Should you repair your old wood fence or replace it entirely? It’s the million-dollar question.
Okay, the answer might not equate to a million dollars, but a new fence can come with a hefty price tag. Unfortunately, fences don’t last forever and are bound to break down over time. No matter the design, size, or material type, all fences naturally wear out.
Deciding whether to repair or replace your wood fence can be a tough decision, especially when on a tight budget. The best approach is to consider all your options, and from there, determine a plan that meets your needs (and pocketbook).
Assess the Condition
First things first, step back and evaluate the overall condition of your fence before you decide to repair or replace it. Take the time to look over the small details, the big problems, and everything in between.
Inspect Fence Boards
Wood fence boards decline in durability and integrity for several reasons. Maybe fungus overgrowth got the best of your wood, or perhaps an insect infestation ate away at your fence.
Exposure to the elements is another common cause of wood deterioration. Weather, moisture, and UV rays contribute to wood rot, and when wood rots, it cracks, splits, warps, or breaks.
Whatever the cause, broken fence boards are a safety and security hazard. It only takes one or two damaged fence boards for a child or pet to escape from your yard. Depending on the extent of the damage, sometimes you can repair fence boards using wood putty or filler. Other times, entire fence boards need to be removed and replaced.
Check Fence Posts
Fence boards are not the only component of your fence that rot. Fence posts can and will fail as well.
Fence posts are the backbone of any fence, and when one gives out, whole cedar wood fence panels can come crashing down. While many homeowners know that wood fence posts decay, beware that metal fence posts can too.
Last but not least, check your brackets, nails, screws, and more. Look for rust and broken pieces that no longer serve a purpose. Popped nails or loose screws don’t hold fences together well.
Understand the Aesthetics
If you are able to repair rather than replace your fence, do not forget that repairs will impact the look of your fence. Wood changes color as it ages. Many types of wood tend to gray, losing those natural brown, yellow, red, and orange tones over time. This means new wood stands out against old wood.
Yes, you can paint or stain a fence to cover up the color differences, but keep in mind that paint or stain can only cover up so much. Weather-beaten, old wood with years of wear and tear will undoubtedly look different than fresh, new wood.
If aesthetics are a concern, you must set realistic expectations. A repaired fence is simply that – a repaired fence with some old elements mixed together with new portions.
The only way to get that shiny, new look is to build a fence from the ground up. Furthermore, if you want to change from a wood fence to a different kind of fencing material, you must also go the new route.
Consider the Cost
Before you dive deep into repairs, make sure to calculate the total cost. If your fence needs a major overhaul, replacing your fence might be the better option.
Why? Repairing a fence can be a daunting task, particularly when your fence needs numerous repairs. Repairs are time-consuming and expensive. In fact, many homeowners that spend countless hours and put big money into repairs end up wishing they had replaced their wood fence instead of repairing it.
Furthermore, remember to think about the end value of your fence if you choose to repair it versus replace it. While repairs serve a useful purpose, a new fence is worth significantly more than an old fence with scattered repairs. If your end goal is to increase the value of your property, a new fence is the best option.
Making the Best Choice For Your Fence
Fences deteriorate at different rates and in various ways. It might feel overwhelming, but when you take a moment to evaluate the overall condition of your fence, you are better prepared to make the right choice for your circumstances and budget.
If constructing a new fence is your final decision, do what you can to take care of that new fence. Fence maintenance is your friend. When you maintain your fence, you make the most of your financial investment by prolonging the life of your fence.
Fences experience natural wear and tear, and homeowners need to be prepared for what that means. There is a time and place for repairs, but putting a bandaid on an old fence time and time again is not always the solution.