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How to Maintain and Extend the Lifespan of Your Privacy Fence

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A privacy fence is an investment in the security and beauty of your property. However, like any natural material, it requires maintenance to keep it looking its best.

The lifespan of your wood split rail, picket, or privacy fence can be extended by following these simple maintenance tips. This will help ensure that it keeps its structural integrity and adds to your home’s curb appeal.

Prevent Water Infiltration

A wood privacy, split rail, or picket fence can add to the beauty and security of your home. While they may be a sizable investment, they can last more than a decade when properly cared for.

Since pressure-treated lumber isn’t impervious to water infiltration, any steps you can take to reduce its exposure to moisture will help extend its lifespan. For example, adjust sprinklers so they don’t get the fence wet, leading to rot or moss growth. Trim bushes and vines so they don’t hang from the fence, adding weight and retaining moisture.

Adding a mud board to the base of your fence will prevent pickets from absorbing excessive moisture from ground contact. Another option is to paint or stain your fence with a penetrating oil-based product. This will seal out moisture and protect the wood from UV rays. Look for one with a low volatile organic compound content (VOC) to be gentle on the environment and easier to clean up.

Clean It Regularly

Privacy fences Lake County IL require regular cleaning to remove dirt, moss, mildew, and graying. This helps the wood stay strong and healthy.

Start by hosing down the fence with a garden hose, making sure it is wet but not dripping. Next, use a deck and fence cleaner that is safe for the environment but tough enough to tackle grime, moss, mold, and mildew. Follow the directions on the product label.

After cleaning the fence, rinse it thoroughly with a garden hose using a low-to-medium pressure spray pattern. Be careful not to overdo it with the pressure, as wood is soft, and excessive force can splinter it.

If the wood is dry, stain it with a quality exterior semitransparent oil stain. Look for one with UV inhibitors to slow the sun’s bleaching effect and a mildewcide to help control fungal growth. This also protects the fence from moisture, prolonging its lifespan. Inspect your fence regularly for loose boards and sagging sections and repair them promptly to prevent further damage.

Private Fence

Stain or Paint It

Staining is the best choice to preserve and enhance your fence’s natural look. It can protect against water damage, mildew, and mold and prolong the life of your wood fence. You can choose between oil and water-based stains. The latter tend to have lower volatile organic compounds and are less harmful.

You can stain your fence using a sprayer, roller, or brush. To get the most even results, apply the stain with overlapping strokes and ensure each coat covers at least half of the previous one. Before applying any stain, practice on a less visible area to get the hang of it and prevent lap marks.

To make the project go as smoothly as possible, schedule your staining for a day free of precipitation and high humidity levels. Windy days can cause the stain to drift into unwanted areas. Also, wear chemical-resistant gloves to protect your skin from the stain and paint.

Trim Vegetation Away from It

Many homeowners choose to supplement their wood privacy fence with greenery. This natural option adds beauty and curb appeal while offering an alternative to traditional hardscape fencing options that can be costly.

Keeping plants trimmed away from the fence is essential to prevent damage over time. Branches or roots that contact the fence can cause moisture intrusion, leading to rot and mold. They can also harm children or pets playing near the fence.

When choosing vegetation, it’s important to consider the mature width of the plant at maturity. Some fast-growing trees can become very large and will require pruning for size control. To avoid over-pruning, split the mature width in half to know how far apart you can plant the plants before they reach full growth.

Narrow deciduous and flowering trees like birch, apple, or dogwoods provide year-round privacy coverage. In contrast, Leyland cypress trees grow quickly to create solid, full backyard privacy screens and block wind, noise, and snow. They’re also very adaptable to colder climates.