The elements - sun, wind, rain, snow and below-ground frost - really give your wooden fence a beating all year long. Wood is especially vulnerable to nature's punishments and often falls victim to its worst enemy: Rot. The following are some things to consider when it comes to maintaining all kinds of wooden garden fencing, and some do-it-yourself tips for keeping your fence both functional and looking fabulous.
Peeling paint and chipped wood are both good indicators that your wooden fence needs a little TLC; a few touch ups here and there, or possibly a new coat of paint. It is recommended that you thoroughly inspect your fence at least once a year just in case you have missed some larger hidden problem such as rot. During your inspection for rot, pay particular attention to the bottom of each post as well as the lower rails, as these problem spots are closer to the ground and vegetation making them more susceptible to rotting. It is important to fix problems as you find them before the damage has a chance to spread because rot weakened posts can bring down an entire section of fence if not dealt with swiftly. If there are multiple problem spots, you may want to consider replacing sections or, potentially, the entire fence.
Purely aesthetic problems are easy to deal with quickly, as all you may need is a fresh coat of paint. If you are planning on repainting a section of fence, make sure you thoroughly sand off the old, dry paint first. You may even want to consider treating the wood before the new paint goes on so that the new paint job lasts longer.
You can greatly extend the life of your wooden fence by simply replacing the problem spots with new materials rather than springing for a brand new fence every time there is an issue. Maintaining your own fence will save you a fortune in the long run, and there are plenty of DIY websites on the Internet that provide you with a step-by-step guide to replacing sections of fence. More often than not, you will be replacing the main posts, which are the portions that are actually driven into the ground, as this is generally where rot begins.
Starting From Scratch
If your wooden fence is suffering from too many problems to justify piece-by-piece reconstruction, a full fence replacement may be necessary. If your previous fence ended up falling victim to rot, then it's important to choose your new materials carefully so that your new fence doesn't suffer the same fate. There are a few different types of wood that are inherently rot resistant - such as cedar and redwood - that will give you many worry-free years with your fence. Similarly, wood that has been pressure-treated is saturated with preservatives that will keep the wood rot resistant almost indefinitely, and can stop rot in its tracks.
If it is a true wood fence you are after, then these options are your best ones by far if you don't mind the cost and the regular maintenance they require. If you live in a moist and rainy environment and are having a hard time keeping up with rot in your fence, you may also want to consider some alternative materials such as Colourbond fencing or chain link fencing. These substitutes will give you many years of hassle-free fence enjoyment and require a minimal amount of money and maintenance.