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Three Common Fence Repairs and How to Do Them

wood fence repairA well-maintained fence is important for privacy and protection as well as for keeping your home looking its best. Whatever type of wood fence you have, periodic attention is needed to ensure it stays in the best condition possible.  When performing any repair to your wood fence, always make sure to use quality fencing materials to help to prolong the time between necessary repairs.

Here are tips for some of the most common wood fence repairs:

1. Replacing fence boards or pickets

Boards that are broken, have holes or show signs of water damage should be replaced. When repairing broken fence boards, purchase your replacement fencing materials before pulling off the old boards to minimize how long you’ll have gaps in your fence. Depending on how much of the fence is damaged, you might consider replacing all of the boards in a section to help the fence look more uniform.  You will also want to be sure to similarly treat or paint new boards in your wood fence to keep the look consistent.

To start this project, simply remove the old boards or pickets by either backing out screws with a power drill or hammering the boards out from the opposite side of the nail heads. Next, make sure your new wood fence boards are cut to the proper length.  Nail the boards into the fence rail using two galvanized nails per rail (top and/or bottom).  For easier adjustments, nail the board into the top rail first, then the bottom rail.

2. Replacing a wood fence post

First, check the fence post thoroughly to determine whether it has simply become loose and needs reinforcing or if it has rot or significant damage and needs to be replaced. To check for rot, dig out some of the dirt at the base of the post and use an old screwdriver to poke the section of the post that was covered with dirt.  If the wood is soft, the post should be replaced.

Again, purchase and organize all of your fencing materials prior to dismantling a wood fence.  The next step is to detach the wood fence sections from the post.  You can either remove the nails with a pry bar or cut through nails with a reciprocating saw.

Once the wood fence sections are detached, remove the post from the ground.  To do this, you will typically have to dig out the dirt above and around the fence post and uncover the concrete into which the post is set. Wriggle the post around to break the ground’s hold. If the post remains firmly in place, dig out one side around the concrete. Lean the post into the side you dug out, and slide it out of the ground. You can use a sledgehammer to break up the concrete.

Once the old post is out, put an identically sized post back in its place.  Brace up the new post to make sure it’s plumb, pour the concrete and let it set, then reattach the wood fence sections.

3. Reinforcing a sagging fence or gate frame

Repairing a sagging fence requires a bit of hardware know-how, but it can be rather simple.  First, check to see if the gate hinges might be coming loose or are bent.  If so, replace them with heavier hinges.  If it looks like the screws currently in place are not sufficient for the size or amount of use of your gate, remove the old screws and replace them with longer screws or heavy-duty bolts.

If it looks like your gate needs additional reinforcement, you may want to visit your favorite quality fencing materials store and purchase an anti-sag kit.  This kit comes with all of the materials you need to reinforce a sagging gate, plus the hardware will allow for easier adjustments in the future.

You will also want to check the gate post attached to the swinging portion of the gate to make sure it isn’t leaning or damaged.  If the post shows signs of damage, you will want to replace it.  If it is leaning, reinforce the post with a turnbuckle and a steel wire. Run the wire diagonally from the top of the post to the bottom of a post two or three down the line.  Tighten the wire until the leaning fence post is flush, and your gate should be good as new.

~Ben Anton, 2010

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