Fence maintenance can be one of those jobs you put off until absolutely necessary. Yet, fences represent a very large investment in your property, and they say a lot about your operations, so they’re worth your time and attention. Enclosures that show excessive signs of wear and tear are not safe for corralled animals: popped nails can snag hides; ill-operating gates are an aggravation and a nuisance; and missing or broken boards can allow a horse to escape. And, the state of repair (or disrepair) of your fences will be one of the first things visitors to your property will notice.
Be proactive in making horse fence repairs and maintenance to protect your animals, make a great first impression, and help extend the life of your fence. Treat your fence right and it will perform for many years and through anything Mother Nature throws at it.
Choosing the right materials for your horse fencing is the best way to ensure a long-lived enclosure. But fences are not a “set it and forget it” installation. All fences will eventually suffer from daily wear and tear. Luckily, most repairs make easy do-it-yourself projects. If your repair needs are extensive or you cannot undertake them on your own, contact a reputable fencing contractor in your area for help.
Fence damage and deterioration tends to worsen over time if the situation isn’t corrected. Staying on top of repairs will not only keep your fence looking great, it will keeps corralled animals where you want them, help keep maintenance costs down and delay other more costly reparations like replacing full sections of your fence.
Walk or ride the entire length of your fences at least yearly. Even better, keep an eye out for potential problems with your enclosures whenever you’re working near them. Inspect for soft or splintered spots, loose nails or screws, degrading hinges and other hardware, split or rotten boards.
Common fence problems include broken slats or boards; sagging or tilted posts; leaning sections of fencing; hardware issues; excessive wear due to weathering or contact by animals (running into, leaning against, reaching over and chewing on the fence); and damage related to extreme weather.
Start with the condition of your posts, which can become wobbly over time if the hole they were placed into was too large; in this case fill in the hole with crushed stone or concrete to remedy the problem.
Next, replace broken or missing boards and take a good look at the nails and fasteners on your fence, which over time can become loose due to constant expansion and contraction. Drive all loose nails in to prevent them from causing injury to animals and humans through scrapes and snags. Very rusted nails and worn hardware should be replaced to avoid future failure of these fasteners.
Make sure to check the condition and operation of all gates. Gate hardware benefits from periodic tightening to ensure that these important elements of your enclosure are working conveniently, smoothly and safely.
Always practice safe work habits by wearing appropriate safety protection when working with treated wood (including gloves, goggles and dust mask). Protective eyewear should be worn when using power tools that have the potential for creating splintering fragments or sawdust. Wash hands thoroughly with mild soap and water after working with treated wood. Do not burn pressure-treated wood or use treated wood debris as mulch. Instead, dispose of treated wood debris in accordance with local regulations.
If your fence was damaged through a natural disaster, The Emergency Conservation Program may provide you some relief. The ECP helps farmers and ranchers to repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters by giving ranchers and farmers funding and assistance to repair the damaged farmland. The ECP may cover the removal of debris, repair of land, and repair of fences. This program is designed specifically to handle cleanup following a storm and the repair of storm damage.
Now that your wood fence is in tiptop condition, make sure it puts its best face forward (and extend its life) by giving it a coating to further protect it from the elements.
It’s impossible to completely prevent the natural weathering of a wood fence, but you can take steps to slow the process. Any exposed wood, pressure treated or not, benefits from regular application of a high-quality, water-repellent clear finish or semi-transparent stain that contains a water repellant. Semi-transparent finishes protect the fencing from sun damage and add color to the wood if that’s important to you.
Instead, choose either a pigmented or clear outdoor wood sealer. Unlike true paints, these sealers allow moisture vapor to leave the wood slowly after the coating has been applied. Your choice of sealer should include not only a water repellent but also an ultraviolet stabilizer to slow the discoloration process. The stabilizer will not prevent eventual discoloration, but your wood fence will look better for longer.
Appropriate coatings will seal the wood to help reduce the cycles of moisture take-up and loss that wood undergoes in outdoor conditions. Wet wood in cold climates suffers in particular from damage through the freeze-thaw process, which can result in warping, checking and splitting of boards. Avoid finishes that leave a film rather than penetrating the wood—including paint, varnishes and lacquer—as these tend to will peel and crack, and repainting often has to be preceded by scraping and other remedial labor.
Once you’ve chosen the right product for your project, make sure to read and follow all instructions—application tools and technique; weather conditions for application; safety precautions; proper disposal; etc.
Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for new and re-application and apply the product to every part of the wood that will be exposed to moisture. Clear water repellent can be immediately applied to your fence at any time. If you’ve chosen to use a semi-transparent stain which contains a water repellent, you need to first check that the exterior of your project is dry. Either wait until the surface is dry or immediately apply clear water repellent, then wait approximately 8 weeks before applying your chosen color of semi-transparent stain. Your wood will need regular maintenance at least every 3 years to prolong its life and help it stay strong and beautiful.
Regardless of the reason your fence needs repairs, proper and timely repair and maintenance are vital to preserve the appearance and integrity of your fence. Delaying making repairs can lead to other, bigger problems. With a bit of inspection and research, repairing and maintaining your fence can be an easy DIY project. Your efforts will give you a wood horse fence that will look bright and fresh for years to come!
Contact us today! Our expert wood fencing representatives can answer your questions and help you choose the right products to meet your needs.