The natural warmth of a wooden fence makes it a popular choice for homeowners. Unfortunately, all wooden fences are exposed to weather and elements, so all of them eventually rot. And rot not only affects how the fence looks, but it also reduces its strength.
So, what’s a homeowner to do?
First, it’s important to understand what causes a fence to rot. Then, with the tips outlined below, you can help prevent your fence from an early demise.
What Causes Wood to Rot:
Dry rot occurs when a wooden fence loses the natural oils on its surface. This loss of oils is inevitable due to continuous exposure to sun and wind. As the protective oils begin to disappear, wooden fences become brittle and break easily. Dry rot is especially troublesome in harsh, dry climates.
Wet rot occurs because wooden fences are continually in contact with moisture due to rainfall, snow, or lawn sprinklers. As wooden fences succumb to wet rot, wood becomes cracked and soft, fungal growth may appear, and there may be evidence of a damp smell
What To Do:
Use Proper Wood
It’s important to choose quality fence materials that are resistant to decay. Hard woods like cedar, cypress, oak and redwood are all good choices. On the other hand, softer woods like Douglas fir, tamarack or pine won’t provide long-term prevention of decay. The softer woods may cost less, but in the long run they’ll add more expense if rotted posts or even an entire fence need replacing.
Use Pressure-Treated Materials
When wood is pressure-treated, chemicals are forced into the wood to create a protective barrier against insects and decay. Fence posts should be pressure-treated and labeled for ground use.
A DIY fence may save you money in the short run, but if the posts are not properly installed you’ll end up with a fence that is more prone to rot. Make sure you know how to install the posts so they don’t have contact with soil or hire a professional fence installer.
Protect With Stain
A wooden fence needs a coat of protective stain. Because a wooden fence is made from what once was a living tree, it will naturally absorb moisture that it needed to stay alive. In a sense, the wood is like a natural sponge. When stain is applied, the porous texture of the wood is sealed, thereby reducing the amount of moisture absorbed into the wood.
Stain should be re-applied as needed, every one to three years. To test the wood, sprinkle water on the fence and see if it beads up. If the water doesn’t bead up, it’s time to re-apply a protective coat of stain.
Keep The Fence Clean
It’s important to keep a fence clean. For instance, leaves should be raked from the base of the fence and vegetation should be trimmed back. Fungus should be cleaned off. Also, insect infestations should be removed or treated to prevent damage. Some insects (like termites) will eat wood, and others (like carpenter ants) will build tunnels that weaken the fence.
A wooden fence can be cleaned with a pressure washer on low setting or with a hose and a solution of bleach and water. Although cleaning a fence is never fun, it’s a perfect time to inspect for rot, fungus, or insect infestation. It’s useful to clean a fence annually or as needed.
Replace Rotted Wood
Replace rotted fence posts or boards as soon as possible. Wooden posts or panels that have begun to rot are not only unattractive, but they may reduce the strength of the fence. Also, if rot is caused by fungus, then it’s important to replace the wood to help prevent the rot from spreading.
A wooden fence is a smart investment that can add curb appeal and value to your home. At Accent Fence we’re convinced that proper installation and quality materials are necessary ingredients for a fence that’s resistant to rot. Contact us and we’ll make sure you get a fence you can count on for a long time.