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A fence is a great way to provide privacy, keep pets and children safe, and mark property lines. But like anything else fences need regular maintenance to keep them in good condition.
Keeping up with fence maintenance can save you the cost of having to shell out for a new one in a few years.
The first thing you need to do when doing fence maintenance is check for loose nails. Loose fasteners don’t just affect your fence’s appearance; they can cause serious structural problems. If left unchecked, a single loose board could sag or even fall out of place. Over time, this could damage the rest of your fence or cause a serious safety hazard for kids and pets who may try to climb it.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important to walk around your yard and examine each panel of your fence at least once a year. Look for signs of damage and rot, such as broken boards, twisted or bent posts, and rusty metal components. This is also a good opportunity to inspect the gates and make sure they’re secure and lined up properly.
Once you’ve identified areas that need attention, it’s time to gather the necessary tools and materials. This will typically include a hammer, screwdriver, drill with various sizes of drill bits, saw, wood glue or epoxy, screws or nails, replacement boards or pickets, a level, and a set of safety gear, such as gloves and goggles.
After gathering the materials you need, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your fence. This will help remove dirt, mud, mildew, and other contaminants that can cause damage to your fence. You can use a pressure washer or simply hose down the area with water. If there’s a lot of mildew, you can scrub it with a wire brush and then apply a wood cleaner or white vinegar to get rid of it.
Once the cleaning and repair work are finished, you can then re-stain or paint your fence to restore its original beauty. You should put on two thin coats of stain and allow the first to dry before applying the second. Staining your fence will provide extra protection against the elements, so it’s important to re-stain or paint every one to five years.
If your fence isn’t stained or painted, you should consider doing so as soon as possible. Without any stain or sealant, your fence will begin to show signs of wear and tear in just a few years.
Clean the Fence
The fence should be inspected for loose pickets or boards, broken hardware and other damage. If any of these problems are found they can be repaired, or new ones prevented from occurring. It is also a good time to inspect the fence for signs of insect infestation or rot. Wood can be damaged by rain or sprinkler water too, so it’s important to check the edging and any areas where wood is touching dirt or mulch. If a part of the fence is significantly warped or damaged, it may need to be replaced. Lastly, the fence should be cleaned to remove dirt buildup, pool or lawn chemicals, mold, mildew and stains from sprinklers.
Scrubbing is the most common way to clean a fence but it can also be done with a power washer. However, a power washer isn’t a common household tool and can be expensive to rent or buy. Instead, a coarse-bristled outdoor broom should be used. It has a long handle, making it easier to reach all areas of the fence without too much stooping or stretching.
A basic cleaning solution can be made by mixing water with bleach. Many hardware stores sell this product and it’s also easy to find online. Simply spray the solution on and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then scrub the area with a brush and rinse it off thoroughly with a hose or bucket of water.
This cleaning process should be repeated as needed to keep the fence looking its best. In addition to cleaning the fence, it is recommended that you trim back any bushes or vines hanging over the fence. This will help to prevent them from catching the wind and becoming damaged or falling onto the fence. It will also help to reduce the amount of moisture that accumulates on the fence and causes rot or mold and mildew to grow.
If you’re planning on staining the fence, test a small area to ensure it will look good in the sun and with the surrounding landscape. Once the color lightens it will be difficult to get it to match again.
Re-Stain or Paint the Fence
When the fence starts to lose its luster and color, it’s time for a repaint or stain. Both methods protect the wood from moisture and UV rays, making it less likely to degrade over time. Before re-staining or painting, however, you should clean the fence thoroughly. This process removes dirt, mildew and other debris that affect how the wood absorbs stain or paint.
You can use a power washer with a spray nozzle, a scrub brush and a solution of water and detergent. Then, sand any areas of the fence that have loose paint with medium-grit or fine-grit sandpaper. You can also use a masonry brush to get into corners and crevices.
If you’re going to sand, make sure to wear protective equipment and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. Once the surface of the fence is smooth, you can apply a primer that prepares it for the new coat of stain or paint. Once the stain or paint has dried, it’s important to walk along the entire length of the fence and look for damaged sections that need repair. This can include loose boards that should be reattached, rust on metal parts of the fence that needs to be sanded down and touched up with a rust inhibitor, or any other problems.
Staining the fence is a bit more involved than simply spraying it with paint, but the results last longer and provide a more natural appearance. The type of stain you choose is up to you, but a semi-transparent option will offer the protection that your fence needs without hiding its beauty.
When staining the fence, be aware that the weather can change how quickly it dries. Avoid staining on hot, windy days that could cause the stain to dry in blotchy or uneven patches.
Paint will fade and lose its sheen over time, so it’s necessary to re-paint every three years or so. It’s recommended that you prep the fence by sanding it with medium-grit or fine-grit paper and priming before re-painting. This is an important step to prevent the surface from chipping and peeling. When you do re-paint, be sure to use a high-quality exterior paint that’s designed for fences.
Check for Mildew
Wood fences are subject to a lot of wear and tear from the elements. This can leave them with a variety of unsightly stains and discolorations that range from simple dirt and grime to green mildew or even mold. Mildew tends to form on shady areas of the yard or fence where it is exposed to a lot of moisture. It is important to check for mildew on a regular basis. This will keep it from building up to a point where it becomes very difficult to remove.
If you notice any spots of mildew, you should clean them as soon as possible. It is easy to do so with a mixture of water and bleach or a solution that is specifically designed to kill mildew. You should also spray down the entire fence to remove any excess dirt and debris that may be present. It is a good idea to do this on a sunny day so that the sun can help to dry the wood completely.
Another sign that you may need to do some more serious repairs to your fence is if it is starting to lean or sag. This could be the result of an insect infestation or it might just be a sign that the wood is beginning to rot. If left unchecked, this can lead to the need for a full replacement of the fence.
When checking your fence for rot or other problems, be sure to look at the base of the posts as well as any boards or rails. This is where most moisture damage occurs as it can seep underneath the surface of the wood and cause rot from the inside out. If you see any areas of rot on your fence it is important to take action immediately.
In addition to checking for these common issues, you should also take the time to walk along the fence line and check for any loose pickets or other signs of wear and tear. It is always better to catch problems early on and make any necessary repairs before they become a major issue that will require costly repair or replacement.