Weathering the Storm: When to Repair and When to Replace Damaged Fences

When your aluminum fences, wood fences or vinyl fences are damaged, is it better to repair or replace? That depends on a lot of factors. Read on to learn more about which option is best for you. When the storms of life, either literal or figurative, blow through our lives, our fences take a beating. Sometimes they just get scuffed up. Other times they are damaged beyond functionality. How can you tell whether to repair or replace them?

Easy Repairs

Some fence issues are solved with easy maintenance. If you have wood fencing, there are two issues you can deal with by prevention. The first is pooling water. Too much water can warp and weaken your fence, so any pooling water should be redirected away from your fence line. You can do this by digging a trench or building up the ground around the fence. The second issue is insects. Several kinds of insects, including termites and some types of ants, will destroy your wooden fence if they are left to their own devices. If you notice small holes, or more likely, wood shavings left behind from burrowing, near your fences, call an exterminator immediately. Small holes can be repaired with wood filler or some kinds of putty. If your boards are significantly warped though, it is better to replace them. Vinyl fences are much less maintenance than wood fences, but they have fewer options for repairs. If your panels crack, you will need to replace them. Depending on the type of panel you have, you may be able to replace the single damaged picket. This would be a cheaper fix, but it may require a bit of skilled labor. If that is not possible, you will need to replace the entire panel. Aluminum fences are typically quite durable, but accidental collisions or large falling branches can cause damage. Aluminum, like vinyl fences, often need to have pickets or panel replaced. However, if the damage is due to soil erosion, this can be remedied by adjusting the fence until it is level, and then adding extra soil or gravel to hold it in place better. When individual pieces are being replaced, you may need some welding skills to get them in correctly.

When to Replace

Wooden fences require less skill to repair, but their repairs are evident unless you repaint your entire fence. Most vinyl and aluminum fences hold their color better over time, and you can usually match replacement parts with the rest of the overall fence. Additionally, panels are much easier to replace than posts. Fence posts are usually buried in the ground in concrete and difficult to remove without digging them up entirely. Your fence, with proper maintenance, should be able to last somewhere between 20 and 50 years. If the fence is beyond 50 years old, it is time to look at replacing it entirely. For those under 20 years old, there should still be some repair options for you. However, large patches of your fence have received damage, it might be worth looking into a total replacement. Generally, if 25 percent or more of your fence is not functional, it is probably a good idea to just replace the whole fence. One additional reason to replace your fence is when it does not meet your needs. It does not have to be damaged to be too short or too tall, fail to keep others out, or not the style you really want. It is a significant expense to replace a fence, but it is better than having a fence that does not do the job you need it to do for you.

Fence Maintenance

Apart from the preventative measures around water, insects, and soil erosion, you should always check with your fencing supplier to find out what kind of maintenance needs your fence has. You should follow those instructions to keep your fence functioning well and looking great for as many years as you can keep it that way. Wood fences are higher maintenance and often require staining, sealing, or painting each year or at least every other year. By comparison, vinyl fences only need to be washed with a hose. In cases of extreme dirt, they can be cleaned with a soft rag or sponge and a very mild detergent. Aluminum fences require similar care as vinyl fences. Don’t forget about landscaping. Weeds can grow up around your fence, making it less attractive. Even more dangerous, vines can grow around your fences and damage them by pulling, warping, and cracking them. If your fence is regularly being damaged by animals, children, or vehicles running into it, you may need a sign or a light on it if the damage is happening at night. Fences are an excellent addition to your property, and with proper maintenance, they can last you for decades. Appropriate preventative measures and quick repairs can save you the cost of replacing your fence. If the repair cost and effort begin to mount up above the cost of total replacement though, it may be time to look for a new fence.