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.
Wood fencing comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether you have a traditional picket fence, a wall of high slats, or something a little more unusual, though, wood has to be cared for. If left neglected, a wood fence will begin to crumble in the face of constant pressure from the elements. Treated and cared for properly, though, your wood fence could last as long as your home. Possibly even longer, if you are generous with your care.
3 Tips For Keeping Your Wood Fencing Looking Beautiful
Tip #1: Keep it Painted (Or Stained)
Painting the fence is an annual ritual in most homes. Even if a wooden fence is chemically treated to endure the elements (and most wooden fences are), the treatment at the factory will only last so long, and do so much. Which is why if you want to keep your fence looking good, and keep the wood safe from the ravages of time, you need to keep it painted, or stained.
Always check the instructions on your paint, or stain, and pay special attention to both how many coats you should use, and how long the treatment is meant to last. Even an inexpensive treatment will last for a year, but beyond that mileage may vary. Additionally, if you're using stain, make sure you use the same kind when you apply new treatments. Differing stains can interact, giving your fence a strange, patchy look if you're not careful.
Tip #2: Termite and Wood Rot Prevention is Key
Wood, as we all know, is the favored food of termites. And while you can keep most of your fence off the insect buffet just by ensuring the wood isn't sunk into the ground, that isn't an option with your fence posts. If you have moist earth, that is going to take a toll on the wood.
The fence posts, just like the rest of the fence, are treated with pressure and chemicals by the manufacturer to resist rot and the incursions of insects. However, with time and exposure, that layer of defense becomes less and less potent. Which is why it pays to invest in prevention so you don't have to uproot your fence posts every few years to give them a new treatment, or replace them because they've begun to rot away.
One way you can do this is by using metal fence posts, disguised to blend in with your wood fence. If you want to have a more universal look, though, you can use metal caps, or even concrete anchors, to protect the parts of your wood fencing that do have to go underground. Such protective measures can extend the life of your posts significantly, giving your fence a firm foundation for years to come.
Tip #3: Use A Power Washer
When doing maintenance and upkeep on your wood fence, don't just use a hand scraper to remove old paint, dirt, etc. Get a power washer (they're available for rental, if you don't want to buy one for occasional use), and spray the fence clean with it.
A power washer doesn't just clean your fence; it strips off the outer, damaged layer of the wood. If your fence is gray, or faded, this will reveal the bright, vibrant wood beneath the exterior. This is similar to how a knife sharpener will eventually reveal clean steel. Then, once all the build-up has been washed away, you paint or stain the new exterior to protect it. Then, when that layer has withstood all it can, the process starts all over again.[codepeople-post-map]