Wooden fences are a simple, beautiful boundary around your property. They need regular maintenance, however, to keep their beauty and to stand straight and tall. Here are some basic steps for maintaining a wooden fence.
A new wooden fence
Moisture is the biggest enemy of wood structures, including fences. The most popular woods for fencing are redwoods and different species of cedar because of their superior moisture resistance.
A fence is composed of the following parts.
- Pressure-treated posts are sunk 24 to 36 inches into the ground and set in concrete. The diameter of the hole should be three times the width of the post, and gravel should be poured into the bottom for moisture drainage. Posts should be eight to twelve feet apart.
- Rails run horizontally to connect the posts. Vertical pickets are attached to the rails. Wood screws are better than nails for securing rails and pickets because they last longer and resist being pulled out of place by warping wood.
- Gates are equipped with steel hinges and latches.
Initial care of a fence
A new wooden fence should not be stained or painted for the first year of its life to allow time for the moisture to dry out. Then you may coat the wood with oil-based stain, latex paint or a water-repellent clear coat. Whichever material you choose, it should contain UV protection to prevent the wood from graying. Apply with a brush, roller or sprayer. With a sprayer, wind can cause spray mist to drift to nearby surfaces, so park vehicles safely away and drape tarps or tape masking paper to nearby structures.
Prevention is the first step in good maintenance. Protect your wooden fence from water damage by keeping sprinklers from regularly spraying it. Adjust irrigation heads away from the fence as needed. Slope the soil down and away from posts to prevent standing water.
As you roam your property caring for your landscape, inspect your wooden fence periodically. Secure any loose nails or screws as well as any loose or sagging rails. Give posts a moderately hard shake to ensure they are still stable in the ground. Note and replace any warped pickets. Check the stability of hinges and latches on gates and oil them.
Finally, look for accumulation of mold, moss or dirt. Scrub away any you find with a brush and a 20 percent bleach-water solution.
Every three years to five years
Even with vigilant maintenance, your stain or paint will need stripping and replacing every few years. Use a pressure washer to remove the old coating from your wooden fence. Allow it to dry for at least a week, then apply a fresh coat for a like-new rejuvenation.
Related – Adding a Fence To Your Property