Wood Fencing: Repair or Replace?

Wood Fencing: Repair or Replace?

Posted in: Wood Fencing

Has your white picket fence become a pale shade of gray, possibly full of cracks, holes, and appearing a bit wavy? Sounds like you might be ready for a new fence. But many times a new fence is not necessary. It may be that a board here and a post there and some tightening of bolts and screws would do wonders. But let's take a closer look and consider some options before you start removing boards and pulling posts out of the ground. 

No single factor affects a wood fence more than the weather. Extreme changes in the weather could be a sign that it's time to take a closer look at your wood fence.

What conditions cause a wood fence to deteriorate?

Weather 

Sun, snow, rain, and wind are a wood fence nightmare. Snow and rain can cause the soil to shift and cause fence posts to move, putting the entire fence out of alignment. The fence will need realignment, with the posts planted at least 3 feet deep. Future repairs will depend on the type of wood. More on that in a moment.

Wood Fence Rot 

Some wood rots quicker than others. Redwood and Western Red Cedar can withstand moisture far greater than any other type of wood. Expensive but worth it. 

Insect Damage 

Termites and other types of wood-boring insects are a constant threat to any type of wood fence. If caught early enough, a simple board or post replacement may be all that is necessary.

Sagging Gate

The frequent opening and closing of a gate are going to cause the hinges and the frame to break down resulting in a gate that sags. Combine its use with the rain and snow that loosen the surrounding soil and its base is suspect to rot. However, the good news is that the affected posts can be stabilized with concrete poured around the base if the posts are still in good condition. The gate might sag because its weight forced it out of alignment. Sometimes a tension rod will provide additional support. 

What conditions affect repairs?

Height 

The height of a fence depends on local city codes and homeowner preference. Most city codes for a front yard fence allow for 3-4 feet and backyard fences are usually 6-8 feet in height. This is important for homeowners to know when calculating costs.

Damage 

The extent of the damage and the type of wood selected determines the cost. Pressure-treated wood may cost more but because of its preservatives will last nearly forever. As mentioned, Red Cedar and Redwood hold up well in changing weather conditions.

Frame 

Damaged posts provide support to rails and panels and should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage. If an undamaged post has come loose from its foundation, it can easily be reset.

Concrete Foundation 

When combined with a brace support, concrete provides additional stability, especially in adverse weather conditions. Don't worry, when done by professionals, you will never see any concrete residue. 

What is the type of wood recommended by Long Fence?

In many cases, Long Fence recommends either the pressure treated Ecolife or the non-pressure treated Western Red Cedar. Red Cedar resists moisture, decay, insect damage, and does not shrink as easily as other types of wood. Western Red Cedar will not, swell, twist, cup, or warp under the most extreme weather conditions. However, Long Fence recommends that Ecolife is used to build the frame because of its durability to withstand the extreme changes in the climate. The choice to use Ecolife pressure treated wood reduces the future possibility of replacing the entire fence. It may be that only a few damaged boards, panels, or slats will need replacing.

Brief Bio of Ecolife

Ecolife is a composite material that contains a non-metallic preservative that protects against rot, decay, and termites. Formulated to protect against harsh weather, its stabilizers promise to limit swelling, shrinking, cracking, and warping. Ecolife is rated for above ground and below ground applications. Ecolife is found no more corrosive to metal fittings and fasteners than non-treated wood. In the earlier days of pressure treated wood, copper was used as a preservative and it wasn't long before anything made of metal became a part of the environment. 

Brief bio of Western Red Cedar

When examined in its historical context, red cedar is the type of wood that has endured the test of time. Native Americans called red cedar the “Tree of Life,” and used it to build homes, canoes, totem poles, masks, rope, and even clothing. During the dawn of civilization, because of its pleasant aroma, cedar became the main ingredient in perfume. Ancient Egypt also used cedar oil as an embalming element. Red Cedar was also used to build coffins and used for incense.

Western Red Cedar costs more but its long-term sustainability far outweighs its cost. Consumers could choose to use a less expensive type of wood such as spruce, fir, or birch but those types of wood are sure to deteriorate quicker than red cedar. This equates to higher costs for repairs and maintenance.  No other wood is as robust or has the long-lasting durability of Western Red Cedar.

Why is Western red cedar the best choice for your wood fence?

  • Durable
  • Adaptable
  • Environmentally Friendly – Renewable, biodegradable, and sustainable

The charming, elegant, and natural appearance of Western Red Cedar will have onlookers turning their heads in covetous admiration, inspired to replace their shabby fence with one that looks like yours! For more information on whether to repair or replace your wooden fence, request a free estimate or call us at 1-800-917-5664.

About the Author

Brett Crouse