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A wood privacy fence can be a sizable investment, so it’s important to do everything you can to extend the life of your fence.

Just like our cars require oil changes, and our homes require exterior maintenance…

A wood fence has areas that can benefit big from a little routine maintenance.

Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to extend the life of your wood fence.


Let’s start at the beginning with a couple design features that can be added ahead of time.

If you are building a new fence…

Build Your Fence With Metal Fence Posts

The number one thing you can do to extend the life of your wood fence is to build it with metal fence posts.

Wood fence posts typically create the most vulnerable component of a wood fence.

Due to their proximity to the ground, they absorb moisture and are vulnerable to rot, mildew and insect damage.

Wood Fence Post in Ground

Plus, pressure-treated wood fence posts aren’t made like they used to be.

Since chromated copper arsenate was banned for use in pressure-treated wood in 2003, wood fence posts don’t last nearly as long as they once did.

When several wood fence posts get weakened at the ground…

…a strong wind can blow the fence over or give it a severe tilt.

When you build your fence with metal fence posts, you don’t need to worry about this problem.

Metal fence posts generally last decades, and provide a great foundation for your new fence.

Add a Rot Board to the Bottom of Your Fence

Likewise, when building a new privacy fence, the addition of a rot board (sometimes called kickboard) can help protect pickets from absorbing excess moisture.

A rot board is a horizontal board mounted to the bottom of your fence, designed to “fill the gap” between fence pickets and the ground.

This board may be used in combination with a cap board or cross frame fence design.

With a rot board in ground contact, you can avoid extra moisture absorption in your pickets.

Fence Rot Board

It’s not uncommon for the rot board to be pressure-treated to extend its life.

A rot board can often help your fence last much longer.

If your fence is already in the ground, no problem!

Let’s look at some things you can do to extend the life of an existing fence.

Stain & Seal Your Fence

A high-quality fence stain & sealer can not only extend the life of your wood fence, but can also give it a whole new look.

Fence stain can be applied before or after your fence has been installed.

While it may be ideal to protect your fence with stain from the beginning…

…fence stain can even be applied years later to help protect your fence for the future.

Fence stain acts like sunscreen to protect wood from harmful UV rays.

And the sealing properties of a good fence stain help the wood repel moisture, making your fence less susceptible to rot and mildew.

Fence Staining & Sealing

When choosing a fence stain, look for a high-quality stain formulation.

Some cheap fence stain products use inferior quality pigments and solvents that quickly fade (and could be harmful to pets and the environment).

Look for a professional-grade fence stain that is formulated with commercial pigments and paraffin or mineral oil-based sealers.

Good product options come from companies like: Ready Seal, Wood Defender and Stain & Seal Experts.

Most manufacturers recommend application of stain when wood moisture is less than 12%.

Wood fence stain and sealer products may need to be re-applied every 2-4 years depending on the location and quality of product used.

Inspect & Repair Your Fence Every Year

Home maintenance requires routine inspections of various systems.

You want to make sure your windows and doors are sealing well, that your HVAC system is functioning efficiently, that your home’s roof system is keeping your home dry.

It’s also good practice to take a walk around your fence once a year to inspect for problems that need to be addressed.

A few simple fence repairs can help prevent catastrophic damage.

And help you get a few more years out of your fence.

Look for loose nails or screws.

Tighten or replace these as necessary.

Repair Your Fence Pickets

Look for rot or damage to pickets.

Replace any pickets that are beyond repair.

Check fence posts and rails to make sure everything is still tight and securely tied together.

Check gate hinges to make sure screws or bolts are secure. Lubricate hinges if necessary.

If your gate is sagging, you can install an E-Z Brace to straighten it out.

Fix fence problems early to avoid having to replace the entire fence too soon.

Minimize Contact With Water, Soil & Vegetation

Your wood fence will perform best and last longer when you minimize contact with extra moisture, the ground or plants.

Set your sprinkler system to avoid spraying directly onto the fence.

Trim landscaping, trees and other vegetation to avoid excessive contact with your fence.

Vines Growing on Fence

Address yard areas around the fence that do not drain well to prevent pooling around posts or the bottom of the fence.

Try to avoid direct ground contact of fence pickets to the ground by moving displaced soil away from the fence or installing a rot board.

Clean Your Fence Every 2-4 Years

Cleaning can be done on the same schedule as fence staining, because it’s common to give your fence a thorough pressure wash prior to staining.

However, if you notice mold, mildew, fungi or moss growth on your fence, it’s best to take care of that sooner rather than later.

Mold and mildew are caused by excess moisture, and they make the fence look bad.

Not only that.

Certain decay fungi can slowly damage the wood, weakening its structural integrity.

Fence Mildew

There are several commercial products on the market to take care of mold and mildew problems.

Look for a good deck and fence fence wash product.

Many of these are bleach based.

A common DIY wash can be mixed with 1 part bleach to 4 parts water.

But be careful to test it first, to make sure it does not discolor the stain too much.

In Summary

Routine maintenance on a wood fence can add years to its life.

Several of the above recommendations can be weekend DIY projects.

However, don’t hesitate to ask a professional for help if you need it.

Need help with fence repairs or fence maintenance?

We’ll be glad to help you get the most from your fence.

Contact Empire Fence

As Northeast Oklahoma’s #1 residential fence company, Empire Fence of Tulsa is the area’s premier fence builder… providing professional service at affordable prices. Contact Empire to get a quote for your next fence ›