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How To Keep Your Wooden Fencing in Tip-Top Shape

Aug 17, 2007
Putting in a wooden fence around your lawn or garden adds a decorative accent that many will find attractive. However, your fence may soon lose its appeal if you don't keep it up with regular care and maintenance. Some fencing materials, like vinyl or aluminum, require their own brand of upkeep. But wooden fences benefit most from routine scraping, painting, and sealing. Plan for this annual or bi-annual maintenance when budgeting the cost for new wooden fencing.

Of course, if you can do the work instead of hiring it out, you can some substantial costs. But if you cannot, you will need to factor in the labor costs of caring for your fence. In addition, you need to cover the cost of supplies, including the paint or sealant products, along with equipment needed to do the work.

Check your fence every few months for peeling, splintering, mold, or breakage. Insect nests are another potential problem, along with knotholes where birds may be nesting. If you decide to treat the nesting areas, do so humanely, for the birds at least. Otherwise, you may wish to leave these areas alone and concentrate on actual damage to the wood. Look for signs of termite infestation, and call an exterminator if you find them. Manage pest problems before they get bigger, or you could end up paying a premium for pest control.

Depending on the style of wooden fence you have, you may want to sand off rough edges or remove protruding fragments that could cause splinters, especially if you have children or pets that are likely to play on or around the fencing. For split-rail fences, a natural look works well, but you still may need to check for problem areas that need to be treated with fungicide, herbicide, or pesticide.

Painted fences should be touched up every year or two. You will probably have to scrape away flakes and chips to get a smooth finish before repainting. You also may want to seal the fence with a product that will help to protect and preserve it. There are several on the market, so check with your local home supply outlet for details on what to buy and how to apply it.

When painting your fence, buy the right kind of outdoor paint, along with primer, if needed. You might want to put up a string barrier along the fence that you have painted to keep it from being bothered until it dries. If you are painting a wooden fence for the first time, you will want to match or at least coordinate it with other colors in your outdoor decorating scheme. These may include your porch, house door, window shutters, or shed. Otherwise, a neutral color like white, brown, or red should work well for many kinds of outdoor fences.

Even though your fence may be used for mostly functional purposes, like keeping neighborhood dogs away or protecting a parking area, it doesn't hurt to make the fence attractive and aesthetically appealing. Check out your decorating options at your local home supply store.
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