How to Extend the Life of a Wood Fence



A wooden fence can add to your home’s beauty and security. When properly maintained, they typically last between 15 and 20 years. To get the most out of your investment and wood fence, you need to take good care of it.

How to Extend the Life of a Wood Fence?

New Fence Considerations

When you get a new fence there are a few important tips to remember to keep it healthy and well maintained from the beginning. Western red cedar and redwood are commonly used because they resist decay and rot. There are a variety of other wood types available. Fence posts should be pressure-treated since they have contact with the ground which exposes them to moisture and insects. Pickets (vertical boards of the fence) don’t need to be pressure-treated since they are above the ground. Pressure-treated lumber is infused with chemicals that help keep water and bugs from damaging the wood. When you have a new wood fence installed, wait about a year before staining or painting it. This allows time for the wood and chemicals used for pressure treating it to dry out. If you do not, you’ll just end up sealing moisture in, which can lead to rot and decay.

Inspect and Repair the Fence Each Year

  • Once a year, take a walk around your yard and inspect your fence for any signs of damage or rot.
  • Replace any broken boards you find and hammer in loose nails or tighten screws.
  • Check every section of the fence carefully to make sure it’s securely attached to the next one.
  • If any sections of the fence are leaning, make sure the posts are seated firmly in the ground. Should you find any posts that are in poor condition, you may need to replace the posts.
  • Check the hinges and locks on your gates. Make sure they are secure and lined up properly.
  • If you are working with pressure-treated lumber, it is important to note that it is not completely resistant to water intrusion. You need to take steps to minimize its exposure to moisture so as to help prolong the life of the wood.
  • Adjust sprinklers so they don’t get the fence wet and cause the wood to rot Trim back bushes and vines so they don’t hang on the fence
  • Make sure the area around the fence has proper drainage so water doesn’t pool around the posts.
  • The soil at the base of each post should be firmly packed and have a slight slope away from the fence.

Clean Every 3 to 5 Years

Every two to three years, clean the wood to remove dirt, moss, mildew, and any graying. Then, recoat the entire fence with a UV inhibiting and water-repellent coating. If you have made any repairs, scrape off any moss or peeling paint until you can see new wood. Then, you can clean the fence with a pressure washer. Using a solution of 20% bleach to 80% mild detergent is the best way to remove mildew and mold. Just spray it on the fence an hour before washing it.

Reseal or Paint After Cleaning

Paint or stain should be reapplied every 3 to 5 years, if not sooner. Always use exterior oil-based stain or latex paint because this seals out moisture, prevents wood rot, limits the amount of weathering and extends the life of the wood. Choose a stain or sealant with a UV inhibitor to help keep the wood from turning gray with sun exposure. Be sure to let the wood dry for about a week before applying a stain or sealant. When done frequently enough, your wooden fence will last longer and look better.


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