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Maintaining Decorative Fences

Maintaining Your Decorative Fences: How To Keep Them Beautiful For 100+ Years

Your decorative fences may look good now but it's not going to stay that way forever. Find out how you can maintain your decorative fences.

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Maintaining your decorative fences can be such a chore for homeowners. But you need to keep your decorative fences looking shiny and new by performing regular maintenance! Homeowners who splurge for decorative fences value the extra beauty added to their front yards. However, over time, an ornate fence that once provided the perfect accent to your yard can become an eyesore if not properly maintained.

Let’s go over some of the things you can do to increase the lifespan and enhance the appearance of your decorative fence.

What Are Decorative Fences?

Decorative fences go beyond the utilitarian purpose of creating property boundaries by adding an aesthetically pleasing element to front and back yards. The iconic white picket fence lines millions of suburban streets across the country. As a close second, wrought iron fences offer both style and protection suitable for urban homes.

Other types of decorative fences include:

  • Composite

  • Vinyl

  • Steel

  • Wood

  • Aluminum

steps in maintaining decorative fences

Steps in Maintaining Your Decorative Fences?

Proper maintenance for a decorative fence depends on the type of material used in its construction. Modern vinyl and composite fences represent fence ideas that have changed the entire landscape of fencing. They’re durable, easy to clean, and add extended curb appeal to your home. But, for several reasons, some homeowners still love wood and metal fences.

Below are the steps to maintaining wood, vinyl, and metal fences.

Wood

Wood fences can last for over two decades if properly maintained. To keep your wooden fence looking its best:

  • Check the wood at least once a year for termites, fungi, dry rot, warping, or splitting

  • Reapply a wood stain every year or paint it every several years

  • Clean mold, mildew, dirt, and grime with a wooden fence cleaning solution

  • Fix cracks and splits with wood glue

  • Tighten loose boards with a screwdriver, wrench, or ratchet

  • Apply a wood stabilizer or preservative to the bottom of your fence posts

  • Exterminate any wood-boring pests

Vinyl

Vinyl fences will survive for up to 50 years if owners take care of them throughout their lifespans. Proper maintenance of vinyl fences includes:

  • Regular inspections for dirt, pollen, or other substances

  • Clean any dirty spots by hosing down the fence

  • Use a sponge and soapy water to clean hard-to-reach places

  • Apply mineral turpentine with a cotton cloth to remove tough stains

  • For mold, mildew, and algae, use a water-based solution of soap and bleach

  • Use a power sprayer with an all-in-one cleaning solution for large vinyl fences

Metal

Metal fences look fantastic but often require the most maintenance. To maintain your metal fence’s original aesthetic, make sure you:

  • Inspect your fence once a year for rust, chipped paint, bent hardware, etc.

  • Remove rust with a wire brush or sandpaper before priming and repainting

  • Wash your fence with soap and water before applying a layer of wax protectant

  • Cut any plants, vines, or trees making contact with your fence

  • Keep your fence as dry as possible to avoid rust

  • Repair or replace damaged ornaments and other hardware

Repairing or Replacing Fences

Repair or Replace Your Fence?

Could your decorative fence last another year or two? Maybe. Should you put off repairing or replacing it? No. Neglecting to perform regular maintenance and procrastinating about repairs can mean the difference between a quick fix and a total fence replacement. The only secret to long-lasting fences is maintaining your decorative fences. If you’ve noticed something wrong with your fence, here are some signs that you should either repair or replace it.

Reasons to Repair

Depending on the material used in the construction of your decorative fence, certain telltale signs indicate an immediate need for repairs. Let’s break down these signs into three categories: wood, vinyl, and metal.

Wood

Signs that it’s time to repair a wooden fence include:

  • Warping, bending, and splitting of the wood

  • Mold, mildew, and fungus growth

  • Evidence of termite activity

  • Loose or leaning fence posts

Take immediate action if you encounter any of the above signs before your fence deteriorates further and requires an expensive replacement.

Vinyl

Vinyl fences require fewer repairs than wood or metal fences. But, if you see any of the following issues, you may want to consider a quick repair:

  • Discoloration

  • Cracks, chips, and breaks

  • Damage caused by the impact of falling tree branches or other heavy objects

Metal

For all of their beauty, metal fences require frequent repairs. Some of the signs that your metal fence could use a repair include:

  • Rust or corrosion

  • Chipped paint

  • Bent hardware

  • Warped rods

Homeowners should often check their fences for the burnt orange discoloration that signifies the onset of rust.

reasons to replace or repair fences

Reasons to Replace

Sometimes a fence deteriorates beyond the point of repair. In such an unfortunate case, a complete fence replacement may serve as the only solution. But, how can a person tell if they need to replace a fence? Keep a lookout for the following reasons to replace your wooden, vinyl, or metal fence.

Wood

Wood picket fences may need replacing for a variety of reasons. If your fence leans or appears unsafe during a visual inspection, those would constitute reasons for an immediate replacement. Also, anytime you need to repair 25% or more of your entire fence, you might as well replace it.

Vinyl

Because vinyl fences do not rot or harbor pests that can damage them, replacements become necessary only in rare cases. Your vinyl fence may need a replacement if it suffers significant structural damage caused by:

  • Fallen tree limbs

  • Severe weather events like blizzards, tornados, or earthquakes

  • Automobile accidents

Metal

Metal fences may need replacing if they experience a significant amount of rust that threatens their structural integrity. You should also consider replacing your metal fence if it:

  • Fails to provide adequate privacy

  • Isn’t tall enough to keep your dog in the yard

  • No longer fits the style of your home after a renovation

  • Becomes a hazard or nuisance due to sharp edges caused by breakages

 

Hi there! Do you have a tip for maintaining a wood, vinyl, or metal fence? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add your idea during our next update.

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