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 Repairing it can be a quick and cheap job, but if the fence is severely damaged or outdated it might be worth the investment to replace it.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 4 factors.
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 to patch up a few holes. 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.
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. It can also splinter over time, making it 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.
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.
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–and make some quick fixes. But if the cause isn’t obvious, or if the rot is generalized, you might need to replace wood fence with vinyl to prevent future rotting. If you have a wood fence, prevent future damage with regular maintenance and apply a protectant.