November 29, 2022

Fence Maintenance 101

Fence maintenance is the key to getting the best value out of your fencing investment. With proper maintenance, your fence will last for decades. Routine fence maintenance will not only extend the longevity and durability of your investment, but it will also ensure your fence looks as great as the date of install for years to come. However, maintaining your fence is not as simple as it sounds.

Man brush staining a wooden fence for maintenance purposes in Indiana

First, there are different methods of maintenance that may be required to keep up your fencing, and some of them can be time consuming or seem difficult to the average homeowner.

Second, some fencing requires more frequent maintenance than others, due to the materials that it’s made from. For example, wood fencing often needs more frequent attention than a vinyl fence.

Lastly, considering storms, wind, and other elemental factors common throughout the seasons in Indiana, you may need to perform maintenance on your fence quite often.

Now that you know what you’re getting into, here is everything you need to know to properly take care of your fence, extend its longevity, and protect your investment.

Why Should You Perform Maintenance on Your Fence?

Many new fence owners don’t realize the importance of regular maintenance. It is often assumed that once the fence has been installed by the professional fencing company of their choice, their fence is good to go for years to come.

Unfortunately, this is misguided thinking. The truth is that no matter what your fence is made of - wood, chain link, vinyl, etc. - it will need maintenance at some point. If you’re planning to just let it go until it gets so worn down that you must replace it, you should think again. We have four reasons why maintaining your fence instead of letting it deteriorate beyond repair is a much smarter and cost-efficient option.

Extends The Life of Your Fence

A well-built, well-maintained fence can last up to 15-20 years, but it will degrade much faster if you allow it to rust and rot. As the fence’s condition worsens, the more its strength and sturdiness will become compromised. Once the strength and durability is compromised, unpredictable Indiana weather such as a powerful, straight-line wind gust can easily destroy it, or an animal could chew its way through.

Such a fence will do well to last less than 5 years, leaving you in the position of having to spend thousands of dollars to completely replace it, when it was brand new just a short time ago.

The easiest way to transform those 5 years or less into 20 years is to perform regular fence maintenance as needed.

Protects Your Investment And Saves You Money, Too

Getting a new fence can be costly, but even more costly is letting the money you spent on fencing go to waste by neglecting proper care and maintenance.

When you first got your fence, you probably paid at least a couple thousand dollars for materials and installation. Imagine having to turn around and pay that same amount - probably more, with inflation - 3 to 5 years down the line. And not because there was a freak accident, like a tree falling on your fence or a vehicle driving through it, but because you didn’t take care of it. That’s a waste of your hard-earned money.

Instead, you can spend just one or two hundred dollars a year for fence maintenance and make it last a couple of decades. That’s much cheaper than shelling out two or three thousand dollars - or more - every few years for a brand-new fence.

Plus, by maintaining your fence, you’re protecting your investment and getting your money’s worth out of it. It’s a win-win situation from a financial perspective.

Improves The Appearance Of Your Property

A fence that looks fresh and new as the day you bought it, despite being several years old, always lends curb appeal to and improves the appearance of your property.

Saves You Time On Future Repairs

Performing fence maintenance typically only takes a day or two out of your entire year. But if you don’t take care of it, and it becomes damaged through rot, rust, or some other form of decay, you may have to spend a week or more making repairs. Regularly maintaining your fence literally saves you time.

Types Of Fence Maintenance

Here are some common methods of maintenance that you or a fence professional are likely to have to perform on your fence.

Pressure Washing

Using a high-powered pressure washer, you’ll be able to remove dirt, algae, mold, and grime from your vinyl and wood fences. You may also want to use a scrub brush, in case you find stains that are particularly stubborn.

Staining

Staining your wood fence provides a protective coating, which will prevent algae and mold from growing on it. It will also make the wood look much brighter and more aesthetically pleasing.

Painting

Painting your wood fence gives it aesthetic appeal. As the months and years pass, though, you’ll notice the paint fading or even chipping and flaking in some spots. Keep a few cans of paint on hand to take care of these problem spots and repaint the whole fence as needed.

Mowing The Grass

You may not think of mowing the grass as a part of fence maintenance, but it is extremely important to the longevity and appearance of your fencing. It prevents the condensation that collects in tall grass from rusting the bottom of your chain link fence. It also reduces the amount of moisture in your vinyl and wood fences, thus slowing down the growth of mold and algae.

How Often Do You Have To Maintain A Fence?

How often you have to perform maintenance on your fence depends on the type of fencing.

Vinyl Fences

Vinyl fences need to be cleaned at least twice a year. Use a high-pressure washer and a scrub brush to remove dirt, algae, and other grime.

Chain Link

Chain link fences require extraordinarily little maintenance. Your main concern should be to keep the grass at the bottom of the fence mowed down. That way, the condensation that collects in the grass won’t cause rust to form on the metal fencing.

You can also apply a rust-resistant coating on the chain link to ensure it maintains its appearance as long as possible.

Wood Fences

To keep your wood fence in prime condition, you should pressure wash it and stain it at least once a year. Stain acts as a protective coating for your fence, like fluoride for your teeth. It protects the fence posts from rotting, as well as prevents the growth of mold and algae.

In addition to staining and pressure washing your wood fence, you will also have to paint it every so often. The rate at which the paint fades will vary depending on sunlight and weather conditions in your area.

Which Fence Is The Easiest To Maintain?

The easiest fence to maintain is chain link. It doesn’t require staining or paint, and because it has so many holes, it dries quickly. It will rust after a while, though, which is why you’ll need to keep the grass underneath it trimmed. You may also want to treat it with a rust-resistant chemical.

The second easiest fence to maintain is vinyl. Even though you’ll have to clean it twice a year, you’ll find it’s easy to get it looking pretty and spotless again. Moreover, it doesn’t require staining or repainting.

Which Fence Requires The Most Maintenance?

Wood fences require the most maintenance. Not only do they need to be cleaned once a year, but they also have to be stained once a year. In addition, you’ll have to repaint it every so often when the initial coat of paint fades in the sun.

Should You Do Fence Maintenance Yourself?

Maintaining your fence is definitely doable on your own. However, there are some factors you may need to consider before you take on this responsibility.

Time

Any fence, whether it’s for residential, commercial, or agricultural purposes, will require maintenance. The question is, do you have the time to do it?

Fence maintenance is one of those tasks that needs to be performed regularly, but it is often put off for lack of time or because the owner has more important things to do. Unfortunately, the longer you put off maintaining your fence, the more likely you are to need repairs or a replacement in the next couple of years.

If your schedule is too full to squeeze in cleaning, staining, or painting your fence, you may want to go with a lighter maintenance alternative, like vinyl or chain link.

Equipment

The most effective tool for cleaning any fence is a power washer. But this piece of equipment is not a common household item. You may be able to rent or buy one from your local home improvement store, but that can be expensive.

If saving money is your biggest priority, then go with chain link, as it doesn’t require special tools to maintain.

Expertise

No matter how motivated you are or whether or not you own a power washer, you may still not have the expertise and knowledge required to properly maintain your fence. If you plunge headlong into it without knowing what you’re doing, you could end up causing a lot of damage.

Make sure you do your research on the best ways to clean your fence. The company that installed it for you should be able to advise you on best practices, so consider reaching out to them, as well.

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