A wood fence can serve for many years with proper maintenance, but the day will eventually come when you must consider a replacement. The following are some of the telltale signs that your wood fence is reaching the end of its useful life.
1. The Main Rails Are Warping
Over time a fence can begin to look wavy or warped. If it's just a few pickets affected, it makes financial sense to simply replace them. If the entire face is warped or bowing, then look at the rails that connect the pickets. Once these begin to warp, it is time to replace large portions of the fence. It makes more sense to simply put in a new fence rather than do extensive repairs.
2. Nails Keep Popping Out
Over the life of the fence, it isn't uncommon to have a few popped nails every year. These are typically caused by temperature fluctuations that cause the wood to swell and contract. It is an issue only when there is extensive nail popping or they seem to be popping out of the wood constantly. This usually means moisture has penetrated the wood, which makes it more prone to swelling. At this point, the fence will soon begin to rot so it's time to replace it.
3. Post Bases Are Rotting
A once sturdy fence that begins to wobble or lean can be an indicator of failing posts. Although wood fence posts are treated to delay rot, eventually it can invade the wood. Often, if you pull back the soil from around a wobbly post you will be able to see the rotted wood just beneath the soil. Rotted posts can't be repaired so repair is the only option.
4. Boards Feel Soft or Spongy
When moisture gets into the wood, the first thing it does is cause the fibers to swell. As the fibers swell, the cells that make them up burst and you end up with spongy wood that will begin to rot. You can test the fence boards by poking them gently with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver head sinks in more than 1/4 inch, the boards are rotting and need to be replaced.
5. It Won't Hold a Stain
Staining or painting a fence is one way to protect it from rot. Yet, if rot has already set in then the wood won't hold the stain or paint. The stain will fade quickly or go on very unevenly, while paint tends to bubble and peel away from rotting boards.
Contact a fence builder in your area, like Absolute Fencing LLC, to begin pricing replacement fences.