Getting your Fencing Ready for Summer
Posted: June 25, 2015
Categories: Product Advice
It's not unusual for us as homeowners to neglect our fences. After all, they tend to just be the accent of our gardens: that thing running along the side to keep the neighbour's dog and children away from running rampant on our property. However, a poorly maintained fence is one that's structurally weak. Not only is this a security risk, but it means that it's eventually going to fall down at some inopportune moment and require repair and/or replacement. Fortunately, there's ways we can slow this process down. It's time to get our fences ready for the summer. Here's how:
One of the most damaging causes of a fence deteriorating is wood rot. It's immediately noticeable: it's a fungus that discolours, eats through, and ultimately destroys wood. Wood preservatives contain chemicals that kill this fungus and help prevent any further damage happening to the fence. Of course, this won't automatically repair any holes and other unsightly damages left behind, so homeowners will have to take it upon themselves to patch or replace panels as required once the treatment has been successful. Wood preservatives are classified as pesticides, so it's important to handle these chemicals with care to prevent excessive damage taking place in your yard. Following the instructions on the label carefully will help ensure this.
Particularly old fences are susceptible to damage from the rain and other sources of water. Most new fence panels are chemically treated to help repel water and reduce any damage occurring to the panel, but this isn't the case with older constructions that can easily be brought down in a heavy rainfall.
The solution to this is using a water repellent. This chemical penetrates the wood's finish and infuses the grain with a wax that's designed to help prevent water from soaking into the wood. This is also an ideal accompaniment to the use of a wood preservative, since much of the fungus that rots wood requires water in order to survive. Helping to keep water away from treated wood is a sure-fire way to help ever seeing wood rot return: so long as it's applied every couple of years according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Following any wood treatment, it's best to visually inspect the fence to ensure that its surface is smooth. Bumps and uneven patches of wood are clear signs of degradation and will require treatment at some point during the fence's lifetime. Fortunately, this is an easy process with a bit of elbow grease: homeowners just need to take a piece of sandpaper to the surface and help smooth out the particularly rough, patchy areas. The chemicals previously applied to the wood will take care it from a structural level. Additional labour will help ensure that the wood remains impervious to cracking and other structural issues associated with uneven surfaces.
As a final cosmetic treatment, it isn't unwise to consider using a wood stain. The use of this will help provide a more even visual finish to the fence, which might be lacking after years of neglect and initial chemical treatments. Stains will restore the wood to its former visual glory and give homeowners the chance to revel in their fence: seeing it as it was originally intended to be.
However, it's important to note that the use of wood stain is something that must be left until all labour has been completed on the fence. Mixing wood stain and water repellents, for example, could cause the repellent to become ineffective as the two types of chemicals merge with one another. It is generally advisable to wait some time before homeowners make any use of wood stains on a chemically treated fence.
There's no hard and fast rules regarding how long a homeowner should wait to use a stain. Manufacturer labels and instructions can offer the best insight into the waiting period, but it is usually wise to wait at least one month before applying any stain in the absence of any formal direction. This will allow the chemical to thoroughly seep into the wood and be ready for a stain treatment later on. Similarly, homeowners must wait after staining before reapplying the water repellent. Again, there should be at least a one month gap in between the treatments.
If you need a bit more advice or want to see how to replace rotten or damaged panels without having to replace your whole fence, take a look at our advice centre or watch our video below.