Protect Your Wooden Fences through the Winter

Fencing on a steep gardenThe leaves start to fall, the barbecue has charred its last steak and the less hardy members of your family are headed back indoors to centrally-heated bliss. The true gardener, however, turns their thoughts at this time of year to more mundane matters: preparing the garden for the wintry season ahead. Don’t forget your fences – some care and maintenance now can protect them through the winter and save you money on repairs come the spring.

How to prevent fences from rotting

Fence Posts

Prolonged exposure to moisture in the soil is a primary cause of rotting, which will eventually lead to your fence collapsing. To help your wooden fence posts last longer:

  1. Make sure the timber is pressure-treated and treated with an appropriate wood preservative
  2. Don’t use green (freshly cut) wood, as it contains more moisture, encouraging rotting. Posts should be made from properly dried timber
  3. Post Saver sleeves can protect the part of the post below ground to extend their life
  4. Using tamped down gravel in the hole around your fence posts allows water to drain quickly away from the fence post into the soil
  5. Cut wooden fence post tops at a slight angle – rain will run off the post instead of pooling on top and being absorbed into the post
  6. Protect dry fence posts from the effects of weathering with an appropriate oil-based stain, preservative or exterior wood paint

Fence Panels

Years of exposure to winter weather can leave wooden fence panels with little protection from wind, water and fungus. Some routine maintenance can help:

  1. Clean dirt, moss, mildew and fungus from wooden fence panels with a power washer, using long back-and-forth motions and a stiff brush or broom to help dislodge grime
  2. Allow fences to dry completely before applying any form stain, paint or preservative.
  3. Mend or replace missing or broken boards.
  4. Apply exterior wood paint, wood stain or preservative using a medium-nap paint roller, a timber brush or paint sprayer.  Allow the first coat to dry for 24 hours before applying a second coat.
  5. Clear leaves, grass and overgrown plants from the bottom of your fence panels – as vegetation rots, it can spread through the fence, causing more damage.

Fence care & maintenance

Can you power wash a wooden fence?

Yes, if the fence is sturdy and well supported by its posts, power-washing is a good method of cleaning and prepping it ready for painting or staining. A 3000psi (or greater) pressure washer will ensure you strip the fence of flaking paint, dead wood and other loose dirt and debris.

It’s important to move the water jet in the direction of the grain of the wood so it won’t leave marks when you come to stain the fence.

How often should you stain wooden fences?

Commercial wood preservatives vary in the claims they make for longevity; some products advise a fresh maintenance coat on a yearly or 2-yearly basis while others claim up to 5-year fence protection.

One-coat products generally have a shorter life-span. Applying two coats may seem like a lot of work, especially if you have a long fence-line, but it could be worth the effort in the long run.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the initial application, but it won’t hurt your fence to give it an extra coat of preservative if the fence starts to look faded and dull after a year or two. Many shades are available to suit your preference.

What type of wood will cut down on maintenance time?

Hardwoods are more resilient than treated softwood timber; the slow growth of hardwoods make it denser, helping its long-term resistance to the weather, but in the short term it’s an expensive option for a long run of fence panels.

If you’re considering a new gate, however, the cost is not so prohibitive.

For more advice about installing or maintaining your fences ready for winter, call Trentwood Fencing on 01865 739005 or 07900 938061.

Released On 5th Oct 2017

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