As spring becomes summer, the urge to renew comes along with. Free from the confines of the indoors and winter, the first place we tend to start is with our external environment.
Getting into home improvements early lets you capitalize on the cool temperatures and soft soil to get some things done.
Fence repair doesn't have to be a burden. This time-honoured spring tradition of renewal fixes up the damage from winter storms and ensures a strong barrier for summer activities.
Though any repair or improvement may be arduous, it doesn't have to be completely unpleasant. Check out our 10 tips for getting your repairs done without hassle.
Fence Repair Checklist
The following tips give you a solid idea of how to take care of some common problems in either inspiring or straightforward ways. We've taken care to provide easy, but effective, shortcuts to many common fence repair problems.
Remember, always go into a repair with all the proper tools and materials on hand.
1. Replacing Posts
Posts may become unseated or sink from loose soil. They may also be weak from rot or physical damage. Replacing a fence post requires more effort than many other fence repairs because it holds up so many other parts.
Putting posts into the ground where they won't unseat can be a matter of some debate and engineering.
Remove the bad post by separating the fence panels from either side. This is best down with a lever and a saw. Pull back the panel, saw through the nails, good to go.
Next pull up the post by digging around the post or levering it out, if not set in concrete, with a lever.
Finally, place a new post in the exposed hole in whichever fashion matches your construction.
If upgrading or changing out all of the posts, it can be easier to remove everything first and then replace after. If doing piecemeal repairs, it is better to complete each repair individually to maintain the stability fo the fence.
2. Removing Damage
There are more than a few ways wood can get damaged over time. Though the longevity of wood on average is 30 or more years, individual sections may get more wear than that.
Removing wood that has become damaged through weathering or impact should be done carefully. This will preserve as much of the surrounding good material as possible. Also, this makes it easier to put in new wood that matches the old areas without looking like splices.
3. Shoring Up Weakness
Loose panels that have signs of wear can be reattached and tightened to posts using additional blocks of wood. These may not be the most appealing, but they take far less time than a replacement.
Prop up the sagging sections of the rail and fence panelling, so they are level. Secure them with blocks and shims to keep them in place while you add the supports.
Then add small blocks of wood to the area underneath the rail next to the post. Adding caulking to the joining surfaces will help keep moisture from pushing apart and weakening the repair over time. Screw or nail the blocks and then paint or stain to match the surrounding fence.
4. Wire Tightening
Wire fences are more common along larger pieces of property such as farms and raches. Some homes also use crossed wire but not chainlink fences for decoration or area separation (like around a garden).
Tightening wire to fix holes or to anchor splices is easy. Using a claw hammer makes for faster work than a fence stretcher. Though if you have a fence stretcher, always use the more precise tool.
Set the wire into the gap of the claw end of the hammer and then loop it around the head. Pull the hammer around the next wire thread and twist. The hammer acts as a secure and robust lever.
Then remove the wire from the hammer and finish with twists back to the spliced wire and you're done.
5. Fence Screens
Replacing entire fence screens or individual components of a panel takes some extra effort. Though the whole project only takes a few hours if you have the basic carpentry skills, getting the look to match can be difficult.
The best way to replace fence screens properly is to take unbroken and undamaged pieces from the fence and trace and measure from there. This will ensure the cuts of the new pieces will match.
You will want to fully remove a fence screen before measuring and cutting. This ensures you get all the numbers and don't miss details in the setting or in areas where sections may connect.
6. Gate Sagging Tricks
Sagging gates can be a literal pain in the neck to pull up and maneuver into place. Sagging can also pull on the surrounding panels and cause the fence to become uneven over time.
Two simple repairs can remove gate sag and prevent further damage.
The first employs a wheel at the latch side of the gate. This will take the weight of the gate and prevent further pulling.
The second is harder but is basically invisible. Remove the lower hinge, apply matching wood shims to build up the lower area, then reattach the hinge. This will set the bottom of the gate back level with the top.
7. Gate Latch Fixes
Gates with a bolt style latch may become worn over time. This will leave the gate wobbling or the bolt unable to reach the hole.
Applying a small wooden block or post on either side of the gate setting will give the bolt a new purchase to slide into and fit securely.
Sanding should be done with the lightest grain possible. Pulling off a damaged piece of fence and test it with several grains. This will help you understand the proper grain needed to maintain as much of the wood as possible.
Evenly sand all exposed surfaces. Reapply a new stain or paint. For best results, loosening components and then tightening them back down will allow the stain to get into harder to reach areas. This can save time instead of taking everything apart and give a complete finish.
9. Repair Arris Rails
Commercially available steel brackets make quick work to reinforce rails without replacing them. The bonus is that the rails are strengthened.
Areas prone to damage will likely occur again, as these are points of stress in either the fence or the wood itself. Replacing an arris rail each year makes less sense than rebuilding and reinforcing with steel brackets.
10. Safety Tricks
Always work in teams of two. This prevents injury and makes the work easier and more level. A second set of eyes can also spot mistakes and save time overall.
Wear the appropriate safety equipment such as reinforced boots, gloves, and safety glasses.
Don't take risks when working with tools. It is better to work slowly and prevent damage to materials and people.
That wraps up our tips for fence repair!
Looking for more ways to tackle your springtime to-do list? Send us your questions on our contact page and let's see how we can help you.