A wood fence can be a very worthwhile investment for your property for any number of reasons. A wood fence adds both security and privacy while also helping to boost your curb appeal. Unlike other materials, wood fences tend to work better with the natural environment, thereby creating a more seamless and complementary aesthetic. However, one of the things that you need to realize before you have a wood fence installed is that it does require a little bit of maintenance. You need to take care of your wood fence in order to ensure that it lasts and to prevent issues from occurring that may require repairs or even replacement. The following are 10 tips that will help you to take care of your fence.
- Seal the wood panels – If you aren’t going to paint your wood fence because you want to keep its natural color, then you’ll need to seal it. Staining the wood panels can give them a hint of color while still keeping a natural look as well. How often you reseal or stain your wood panels depends on the climate you live in, but general rule of thumb is that if water no longer beads up on the surface but soaks into the wood, then it’s time to reseal or re-stain the wood.
- Change the direction of your sprinklers – This is something many people often forget to do. Yes, your wood fence gets wet anyway when it rains, but you don’t want your wood to get soaked every single day. This increases the risk of rot. Point your lawn’s sprinklers away from your wood fence so that they aren’t in the line of fire.
- Keep the bottom of the fence out of the ground – We recommend letting the bottom of the wood fence hang a bit above ground in order to prevent exposure to moisture as well as to insects such as termites. If you prefer to have your fence extend into the ground, consider encasing the bottom using concrete and caulk to give the wood some protection.
- Keep plants a few inches away – You won’t want your plant life to be too close to your wood, which means that you should try to avoid having vines crawl up your wood panels. Shrubs and other plants that are too close to your wood fence will make your wood panels more vulnerable to rot and insects, such as termites. Keeping your plant life a few inches away from the wood should suffice, you just don’t want them to be right up against the wood.
- Be careful when hanging things from your fence – You may want to hang some decorations off of your wood fence. Doing so can help make your yard feel more inviting and pleasant, but be careful about how much weight you hang from your wood panels. Heavy items can cause the wood to warp over time. If you hang lighter decorations off of your fence, make sure that they are spread out so that the combined weight isn’t affecting the fence as much.
- Wash your fence regularly – Don’t make the mistake of thinking the rain will just wash your fence for you. If anything, rain dirties up wood fences even more. Take a power washer to your wood fence on a regular basis. Doing so not only helps keep your fence looking clean, it will also remove the dirt and debris that can gather in the wood’s holes and pores. If you don’t have a power washer, you can make a simple cleaning solution using warm water, bleach and a teaspoon of bleach-safe soap. When using this solution, make sure that any plants that might get in the way are covered up.
- Do damage control – If you notice an issue with your fence, have it fixed right away. For example, if one of the wood panels has begun to rot, replace it as soon as possible. Not only is damage like this unsightly, but it can create a bigger problem if it isn’t taken care of immediately. One rotting panel will soon turn into three rotting panels, and so on and so forth. So make sure that you keep any eye out on the condition of your wood fence so that you can do damage control when it’s needed.
- Make small repairs when needed – Not all wood fence issues will turn into exponentially more serious problems if you ignore them. However, you won’t want to ignore smaller issues for too long as they can affect both the function and the look of your fence. Many smaller issues can be repaired with simple waterproof glue and tape clamps.
- Repaint the wood panels every couple of years – Paint acts as a sealant, which means that by repainting your wood panels every few years, you’ll help to keep it protected. This is important since your wood fence will be exposed to the elements, which will eventually cause wear and tear that can cause the existing paint to fade or chip away. Besides, a freshly painted wood fence will help keep your property looking at its best.
- Keep grills away from the fence – If you enjoy grilling outdoors, then by all means, go for it. Just make sure that your grill isn’t set up near your wood fence. Not only is it a potential fire hazard (the last thing you want is for the grill to be knocked over into your fence by accident), but the smoke, grease and other related cooking stains that result from the use of a grill can stain and damage your wood fence over time. Make sure that when you use your grill, it’s far enough away that it won’t affect your wood fencing in any way.
To keep your wood fence looking brand new and to prevent any future problems, be sure to use these 10 tips in order to care for your wood fence. For information about installing commercial or residential wood fencing on your property, be sure to contact us at Northwest Fencing today.
When your property needs a border around the perimeter, a fence fits this need. You have a variety of materials from which to choose as you consider installing a new fence. Some materials are well-suited for low maintenance, including vinyl and chain-link, but you may not feel satisfied with the appearance and expense of these materials.
When you’re after a more natural fencing material, wood is a suitable choice to make. The unrefined and unprocessed appearance of wood fits perfectly with many different landscape styles. Although you can enjoy the more rustic appearance of your wood fence, there will be some regular maintenance to perform to keep it in good condition and looking beautiful.
Staining your fence will be an important task to protect the wood from moisture and keep the fence attractive.
Explore various types of wood to find the kind that fits your budget, your style and your expectations. Although some woods are less expensive, these kinds of wood don’t have the same life span that other types of wood have. Cedar wood is an ideal wood for fencing because it contains natural oils that make it moisture resistant as well as unappealing to insects. Redwood also resists moisture and insects.
If budget constraints limit the wood you choose, opt for pressure-treated wood, treated with chemical preservatives to give it strength against moisture and insects.
Any wood you might choose comes in a variety of wood grades. Choose a higher wood grade for posts to ensure the fence stays strong. You can choose a lower wood grade for the horizontal panels.
Wood’s Natural Enemies
With time and exposure to weather elements outdoors, wood will begin decomposing. As wood begins to break down with exposure to moisture, two issues can occur. First, fungus may attack the wood, which leads to faster decay. Secondly, wood is also subject to dry rot, which can cause cracking and warping as the wood ages.
To prevent these natural enemies from wreaking havoc on your wood fence, it’s imperative that you keep the wood sufficiently and completely sealed from moisture.
It’s impossible to completely prevent the natural weathering that occurs to a wood fence over the years, but you can slow the process by protecting the wood regularly from the elements. The stain you use to cover the wood must cover every part of the wood exposed to moisture. It’s also important to use galvanized or stainless steel hardware in the wood because these metals won’t rust and they resist warping.
To prevent the wood from turning gray from the sun, use products that contain UV inhibitors. These products will keep the natural color of the wood intact.
Your wood fence will need regular maintenance at least every three years to prolong its life and help it stay strong and beautiful. The first step in wood maintenance involves cleaning it to remove all mildew. Special mildew cleaning solutions will make this process easier – apply it with a scrub brush to wash away all mildew that accumulates on the surface of the wood. After scrubbing every part of the wood fence, rinse away the cleaning solution with a hose. As you scrub the fence, examine it carefully to find any areas that need repair. If you find areas with decay, make a note to repair or replace these parts of the fence to keep the fence strong.
Allow the fence wood to dry for at least two to three days after washing it before proceeding with painting or staining. Caulk all crevices in the fence with wood caulk to protect the fence from moisture. Apply the paint or the stain to the fence to cover all exposed surfaces. Although tedious and time-consuming, it’s most effective to apply the product with a paint brush or a paint roller instead of spraying it on. After applying one coat, allow it to dry completely and then apply a second coat of paint or stain. If you have not painted or stained your fence, you will need to apply a clear sealant every year to protect the wood and maintain a strong seal against moisture.
Tips for Wood Fences
Watch the soil around the fence posts to ensure that the soil does not contact the fence posts directly. The moisture from the soil will contribute to decay in the posts, which will cause the entire fence to lose structural integrity more quickly. Even though you likely have concrete footings surrounding the fence posts, soil often moves over time with rain or irrigation displacing it. For this reason, you will need to remain vigilant to ensure that soil does not contact the fence posts.
The lowest fence panel should also not contact the soil or the ground at any time. Maintain a space between the ground and the lowest fence panel to keep your fence panels strong and beautiful.
Although a wood fence requires some maintenance, you can feel positive about choosing this material for several reasons. Wood materials are generally less expensive than other types of fencing materials. Wood is also an environmentally friendly and biodegradable material that does not contribute to waste or damage to the environment. A commitment to materials that sustain the environment benefits everyone.
A fence serves a variety of purposes whether it’s using wooden panels for the optimum in privacy, wooden picket fences for a decorative effect or sturdy wrought iron fences for security and enhancement of the home’s exterior and landscaping. Whichever type chosen, periodic maintenance is necessary to keep the fence in shape and looking good.
Wooden fences come with several maintenance issues that homeowners should be aware of when choosing this material. Installing a quality fence from the start using the right materials along with standard maintenance can prolong the life of the fence for many years. Consider these tips to maintain a new or existing wooden fence.
● Material – if you are anticipating having a new wooden fence installed, select an appropriate type of wood and ensure the material is labeled pressure treated if it is going to be in contact with the ground. The specific chemicals added to create pressure treated wood protect the fence against moisture and insects especially the posts going directly into the ground that are most susceptible to moisture. Two materials that are good choices for fences as they are resistant to the elements that cause rot and decay and do not need to be pressure treated are cedar and redwood.
● Wood rot and drying – if the wooden panels have not been pre-treated, water from rain and sprinklers will speed up the rotting process. Natural drying and splitting of the wood also takes place over time. These same issues can affect pre-treated panels if not maintained. To prolong the durability of the fence, apply a quality, water-repelling acrylic or oil-based staint to clean, dry panels.
● Vines and foliage– if allowed to grow on or up against untreated wood, plants, shrubs and vines can cause wood rot due to moisture in the plants and a lack of adequate sunlight to keep panels dry. Place plants far enough from the paneling to allow sufficient air flow and sunlight and prune periodically.
● Algae – a natural growth but one that affects the panels. The easiest way to remove algae is with a pressure washer. The force of the water removes the unsightly growth leaving the wood looking like new. Homeowners can rent a pressure washer and do the project themselves or hire a company to do the cleaning. Reapply a coat of water-repelling sealant to the fence once the panels are thoroughly dry. Follow the product instructions for frequency of application.
Wrought Iron Fences
Wrought iron fences provide security while maintaining the open look of your yard. Although sturdy, maintaining the fence helps prevent rust and chipping.
Unlike wooden panels that turn grey and weathered looking if not maintained due to moisture, wrought iron fencing deals with unattractive rust. The build-up detracts from the look of the fence and if left unattended, can weaken the metal.
● Cleaning – clean the fence regularly using a solution of soapy water and a sponge. Visually check for signs of rust and paint bubbling while cleaning.
● Rust removal – for small areas, use a wire brush to scrape rust away from the affected area. After scraping, wipe the entire area down with a damp cloth using the soapy water solution to remove rust residue and debris. Allow fence to dry naturally or wipe it down with dry rags. Apply a metal primer to the clean area according to manufacturer instructions followed by a coat of rust-resistant paint.
● Minor scratches – For minor scratches, use steel wool to work out the scratch then thoroughly clean the area. Let dry then apply several coats of rust-resistant paint to the area.
● Large rust spots – when large or multiple rust spots are detected; it may be time for a complete overhaul of the fence. This entails scraping, cleaning and drying all parts of the fence, applying rust-resistant metal primer followed by a coat, or two, of rust-resistant metal paint.
● Bubbling or flaking paint – if detected, remove it with either a hand held rotary tool and grinder or a wire brush. Sand it down to the bare metal and use a metal filler to address any pitting or holes in the surface. Once dry, clean the fence, dry again then apply a rust-resistant primer followed by two coats of rust-resistant paint to the sanded area.
● Hinges and latches – carefully inspect these areas as both can trap water resulting in rust.
● General care – Keep hedges, vines, shrubs, grasses or any other decorative plants away from the fence to eliminate trapped moisture. Also, keep direct contact with water sprinklers to a minimum.