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Should You Repair or Replace Your Fence? How to Know

January 28, 2019

When your fence is damaged, deciding whether you should repair it or just replace the whole thing is a tough call. Repairing it can be a quick and cheap job, but if the fence is severely damaged or outdated it might be worth the investment to replace it. If you’re wondering when to replace a fence vs repairing it, take a look at your fence and evaluate it based on these four factors.

 

1. Condition

Note the repairs that would be needed to get your fence in prime condition. If the damage is cosmetic, it might just need a fresh coat of paint, replacement of a broken post or panel, or a few holes patched up

But if the fence has been heavily damaged, has rows of split boards, or is leaning, you’ll be better off replacing it. A good rule of thumb: If you have to repair more than 20%, just replace it. You may decide that the time to do it yourself will justify a replacement by a professional who knows the best way to install a fence.

 

old wood fence

Signs Your Wood Fence Needs Repairs

If you notice your fence swaying or falling over in any way, this probably means water has seeped into the cement casing, causing the fence to weaken. Dry rot and mold are very common in wood fences. If you notice your fence warping, bending, fungi growing, or termite tracks running through wood panels, it’s time for some major fence repairs.

Signs Your Vinyl Fence Needs Repairs

Vinyl fences are easier to maintain than wood, but they do require some upkeep. Vinyl is nonporous and fends off rot, but it can become discolored. In most cases, you can spray it down with a hose or scrub it with a simple soap or vinegar solution.

Of course, the unexpected can happen, like a tree getting knocked down and falling onto a portion of your fence. Vinyl fencing might take longer to repair because panels must be insulated, but it beats out the costly maintenance of wood and metal fences.

Signs Your Metal Fence Needs Repairs

The upkeep of metal fences is one of the many reasons people opt out of this material. Metal rusts easily and, because of this, can weaken quickly. You need to constantly check for any orange discoloration and apply rust-prevention products to those areas. If you wait too long to fix it, you could be looking at a total fence replacement sooner than you might want.

 

wood fence in the rain

2. Material

Some types of fences are more prone to weather and other environmental damage. Wood fences, for example, are subject to weathering, fading, insects, and moisture. They can also splinter over time, making them a safety hazard. An aluminum fence may lean or shift with soil erosion, and a vinyl fence may crack. 

You might be better off replacing the whole fence with a new material to avoid the same problems in the future, such as replacing a wood fence with vinyl if you live in a humid or insect-prone area.

How Wood Fencing Does in Weather

Wood is not known to stand its ground against rain, wind, or snow. Because wood fences require posts to be cemented into the ground, this material opens the door for moisture from rain or snow to saturate the cement, leaving the wood exposed to water. This causes warping and rotting, weakening the fence altogether, which can make it sway.

How Vinyl Fencing Does in Weather

Vinyl is known for its ability to withstand a wide variety of temperatures, from below freezing to blazing hot. Rain, sunshine, wind, and snow are no match for vinyl, making it a great choice in Utah. Unless confronted with direct impact, such as that fallen tree we mentioned earlier, vinyl fencing won’t warp in a downpour, blizzard, or howling winds. 

How Metal Fences Do in Weather

While fences made out of wrought iron can usually defend themselves well against winds, the addition of rain, snow, and sunshine can give metal fences a run for their money. The moisture from rain and snow can cause wrought iron to rust easily, and sun can cause the paint to chip and the rods to warp.

 

old metal fence

3. Age

Fences don’t last forever. If your house was built in the 1960s or 1970s and the original fence still stands, it has likely exceeded its lifespan and is due for a replacement, or the replacement parts will no longer be available, so any repairs will stick out. If your fence is newer, you might not want to spend the money to replace the whole thing. Check to see if your fence is still under warranty.

Wood Fence Aging

If given proper maintenance, wood fences can last up to 20 years. Wood posts need to be pressure treated, as they’re underground. This helps keep the fence from heaving and losing strength over time. To preserve the lifespan of a newly installed fence, allow the moisture to dry out for a few months before staining. Check the fence posts and panels each year to make sure they’re still in good condition.

Vinyl Fence Aging

Vinyl fences are known for their durability and minimal amount of upkeep, allowing them to last for well over 20 years. Unlike wood, vinyl fencing isn’t affected by termites and won’t crack or splinter, making it a safer and more dependable choice all around.

Metal Fence Aging

Even with a galvanized coating, metal fences can rust and chip. If the metal is galvanized and maintained properly, you can expect to get 20 years out of a steel fence. But, not all metal fences are galvanized, so upkeep can be frequent and tedious, depending on which type of metal you use. 

4. Rot

If your wood fence is rotting, you might want to jump straight to replacing it. You might be able to spot the cause of the rot—splashing from the swimming pool or a broken sprinkler head, perhaps—and make some quick fixes. But if the cause isn’t obvious, or if the rot is generalized, you might need to replace your wood fence with vinyl to prevent future rotting. If you have a wood fence, prevent future damage with regular maintenance and apply a protectant.

 

Is it time to replace your damaged fence? Contact Best Vinyl today and get a free estimate.

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