damaged fencing

A rotten fence doesn't have to mean a broken garden dream – simply get it fixed. We explain how in this, our how to fix a fence panel guide. Wooden fences and posts eventually rot or even snap in strong winds. And if your fence panels are sagging, slumping or are a holey disgrace then it's easy to sort.

Editor’s Note [25.03.2024]:

Our article about how to fix a fence panel and how to spot damage on fence panels was originally published on July 22, 2016. As well as making numerous revisions such as how to attach fence panels to posts, we have also added new sections for preventive measures and regular maintenance, related articles, and a conclusion.

How to spot damage on fence panels

There are some telltale signs to spot damage on fence panels, read on as we reveal these.

Assessing the extent of damage with Fence-fit check ups

Make checking your fences a part of your weekly gardening routine. A quick waggle of the posts and visual inspection of the panels will spot trouble before it becomes a bigger job. After all, a 6x6 panel strewn on your herbaceous plants will cause a lot of damage. A referee’s assistant always checks the goalposts before a game starts so get into the habit of checking your own boundaries. Slats on many fences do pop out and if spotted early, are simply eased back into their original position. Wood does move according to the moisture content and temperature, so a quick check is a great habit to get into.

Signs of decay

Fence posts that move too freely in the soil or on concrete slabs are likely to be rotten. This can occur at ground level or even beneath the soil. This is where the wood is in constant contact with moisture and where that all-important guarantee against rot works hardest (15 year guarantee against rot if the fence posts are pressure treated – accept nothing less for your posts).

Individual slats on some panels may contain knots in the wood, and they can fall out when exposed to the weather. It's not too disturbing (unless you don't want the neighbours peeping through!) but it can be the start of larger patches of rot. The final visual check is the overall colour and state of the panels. Heavy algae populations indicate a wet environment and can look unsightly. All problems can be sorted.

Step by step guide: how to fix a fence panel

Identifying and spotting problems is only one part of the problem. Read on as we discuss how to fix a fence panel and the best way to replace fence panels.

Quick 30 minute fixes

A wash down with soapy water can remove algae and general griminess on panels. A pressure washer will really clean everything off in readiness for retreatment but turn the pressure down and go easy to avoid blasting the panels into next door. Once prepared a few damaged fence panels can be retreated using the slower and steadier method of preservative and brush, or the quicker spray-on-tan style of application. It's a good time to refresh the total colour schemes using some of the trendy coloured preservatives and stains available from every garden retailer. The Timmersol Treatment we sell can also help to stabilise wood and prevent movement due to moisture.

a tub of Barrettine Dark Brown Treatmenta tub of Barrettine Dark Brown Treatment
Barrettine Shed & Fence Treatment 5ltr Dark Brown - Click Image to View
a wooden fence post capa wooden fence post cap
Forest Fence Post Caps (Available in 10x10cm and 13x13cm) - Click Image to View

Replace damaged fence panels

If one slat on a panel has been damaged it can easily be replaced. Carefully ease out the broken fence panel slat, take care to remove any remaining nails and replace them with a new fence panel, a carefully slid-in, factory fresh version. Obviously, the new colour will stand out like a sore thumb, so colour the whole lot to create a uniform look. One quick check to help prevent trouble down the line is to ensure post caps are fitted to every post. They help dispel water away from the top cut end of posts, and therefore reduce rotting. They also make the fence look great.

One hour special fixes for damaged fencing

If a post has rotted at ground level, and everything else seems sound, get a fence post repair kit. This comprises of a metal spike or anchor (depending on whether the post is sunk into the soil or bolted onto concrete) available from most garden retailers. Carefully detach the fence panel and put it to one side; cut off the top part of the rotted post; sink or bolt in the bracket and slot a new post into that. Tighten it all up, offer up and secure our existing panel and hey presto- everyone is happy, and you won't have sleepless nights next time gale force winds are forecast.

How to attach fence panels to posts

If all else fails and a damaged fence panel needs replacing, then don't rush the job. Take any dangerous panels down and then get yourself the right tools (spirit level, spade, relevant nails, screws (and panels!), hammer) and a friend. It is so much easier to have someone holding one end of a panel as you adjust the other. And take your time. Choose a calm day, clear day and always aim to have the job finished before it gets dark. It's better not to put a panel up at all rather than have one half hanging overnight.

Once a post is fixed and set, fix the panel to it and then work along a line – post, panel, post, panel. Even the most precise of tape measure operatives will get distances slightly wrong making the old mistake of putting all the fence posts up at once and then expecting panels to fit in between exactly that – a problem. And remember, panels can be slightly different sizes (wood is after all a natural material) so don't get caught out. Quality panels, the correct tools, u shaped fence clips (or similar), a calm companion, and a clear day – and an hour per new panel will create a magnificent fence.

a selection of tools laid on a wooden floora selection of tools laid on a wooden floor

Preventive measures and regular maintenance

Taking preventive steps will make a difference in extending the lifespan of your fencing, we provide some tips and insight below.

a run of damaged fencing, blown over by the winda run of damaged fencing, blown over by the wind

Routine inspection tips

Undoubtedly, our recommendation as a minimum is to check your fencing twice a year. Once should be a major check and the other should be more of a touch up check. We suggest that you add an entry to your calendar on an electronic device or maybe in a diary as a memory prompt.

Always look for signs of damage such as cracks, rot, decay, fungus, loose panels, and fittings, etc. It is best to head trouble off early, you will spot damaged fence panels before the damage is irreversible.

Preventive treatments and care to avoid damaged fencing

If you buy dip treated fencing it is important to treat this annually with a high-quality wood preservative. Touching up affected areas from wear and tear and giving a good annual recoating will help to extend the life of your fencing.

Related articles

trellis topper atop wooden fencetrellis topper atop wooden fence
A fence adorned with the Forest 6' x 1' Diamond Lattice Trellis Fence Topper (1.83m x 0.3m) - Click Image to View

In conclusion

Fixing damaged fencing is not just about appearance, it is necessary for the strength of the fence and its ability to fight storms and adverse weather conditions. Learning how to spot damage on fence panels, so we have advised about the importance of regular checks and how to spot the signs of decay.

Our step by step guide of how to fix a fence panel provides a complete guide on how to fix damaged fencing and guides on how to replace fence panels which have become damaged. Do not forget the importance of preventative measures and the value of regular maintenance.

Contact Buy Fencing Direct to replace fence panels

The Buy Fencing Direct team are available to discuss how to replace fence panels and how to identify spot damage on fence panels. Once you feel you have learned how to fix a fence panel, why not browse and shop from our wide selection of fencing panels?

Contact us in the following ways:

  • Phone - 0333 003 0515
  • E-mails – send emails through our contact form
  • Text chat – speak to us real-time using our live text chat app