Fixing a leaning fence
How to repair a hole in the fence?
How do I repair a broken fence made of wood, wicker, metal and co? Is it even worth repairing the fence yourself – or is it a job for professionals?
Questions about broken fence and fence repair, which we answer. Plus lots of practical tips.
Types of fences
Wood, metal, plastic, and stone – fences are made of many materials and material mixes. Each fence material brings its own specific properties, so that fences made of them differ in
- privacy protection
- care and maintenance
- service life
- and price
The most commonly used fence materials include wood and metal. Modern fences often consist of a mix of materials, for example, wood and metal or metal and stone (gabion fence).
Fences made of wood
The natural material wood can be set up as a fence in many ways. Thanks to its naturalness, it visually fits almost everywhere. Those who choose wood as a fence material must be aware that the material is alive: it reacts to climatic changes, such as changing temperatures and humidity. In order not to weather prematurely under the influence of wind and weather, a wooden fence needs the appropriate wood protection.
Tip: When buying your wooden fence, decide not only on the appearance, which results from the fact that it is a country house fence, frieze fence, hunter fence, picket fence, or palisade fence but also on the functionality: does the fence have what it takes to provide you with the necessary security and the desired privacy?
Metals such as aluminum, steel, wire (mesh), and wrought iron have also proven to be excellent fencing materials. Metal, with proper (pre)treatment, is quite weather-resistant and durable, and in the case of lightweight aluminum, even rust-proof.
Tip: When buying steel fence elements, make sure that they are hot-dip galvanized and plastic coated. Aluminum should be plastic coated and core wire galvanized.
In order to enjoy your metal fence for a long time, it is, therefore, advisable to give it some care from time to time. Firstly, cleaning: a metal fence should be cleaned from time to time, for example in spring and autumn. The rule here is: less is more! Do without chemicals and use the best just a brush with natural hair bristles and soapy water. This is a good opportunity to check whether all elements of the fence are still intact or minor repairs are needed. Check whether the post caps, the connections of the double-rod mats with the fence posts, and all elements of the fence gate are still intact and whether the paint is damaged somewhere.
Repair fence – you need to know!
Below we will show you how to repair a fence. We will go over typical damage to the most common types of fence which you can repair quite well yourself with a little manual skill.
- wooden fence
- wicker fence
- wire mesh fence
As a rule of thumb, you can remember: If you put up your fence yourself, you are usually able to repair it. Where a professional was at work, he should also be called to repair the fence.
Here we go with our tips for fence repair.
Repair wooden fence
The wooden fence is popular and therefore widely used. You can easily repair weather-related cracks in the wood of the garden fence with wood-look putty. In the case of larger wood damage, the entire wooden slat or fence element must be replaced. Since the battens are nowadays mostly screwed and no longer nailed as was common in the past, the replacement should be easy for you with the right tools.
Tip: If you buy your garden fence from a retailer, you should already think about possible damage when you buy it and buy one or two more wooden slats and store them just in case. The same applies to wooden fences that you have had made by a craftsman (carpenter, joiner). Otherwise, take the broken slat of your fence with you to the specialized trade and have an exact replacement cut there.
Repair fence from wicker
A broken fence made of wicker can be easily repaired if the hole in the fence is not too big. Then you can carefully remove (pull or cut) the affected willow branches from the wicker and then weave in fresh branches. If the damage is larger, you may need to replace the entire fence element.
Repair fence from bar mats
Metal bar mats are very robust and damage to the bar mat fence is therefore rather rare. If anything, it’s usually rust that takes a toll on the picket fence.
Tip: To prevent rust damage to your metal fence, inspect it regularly and thoroughly remove any rust that shows up with a wire brush. You will then need to repaint the area that has been cleaned of rust.
If a bar mat is damaged, after all, loose bars can be spot-welded back on. If the damage is more serious, the fence element must be completely replaced.
Mesh fence repair
The wire mesh fence is considered a classic. And rightly so: it is easy to erect, has a timeless look, and requires little maintenance. For a chain-link fence, wires are woven together. The wires are galvanized or covered with plastic to protect them from the weather. Therefore, the wire fence is color-stable, dimensionally stable, and durable. Good to know: There are also wire mesh fences that are made of plastic wires through and through.
Tip: A wire mesh fence is an inexpensive solution that pays off, especially for large fence installations that do not need to provide privacy protection.
Two typical damages occur with wire mesh fences over time:
- The chain-link fence loses tension, meaning the chain-link mesh between two fence posts sags visibly. For more tension, get a so-called tension comb from a specialist dealer. This is simply inserted through the mesh and levered vertically around the post.
- The wire mesh fence has a hole: If there is a large hole, it is best to replace the entire fence element between two posts right away, provided that the fence was installed field by field. If the fence is drawn continuously, you need to pinch out the broken field and replace it with a flawless piece that you cut with overhang. To do this, wire the protruding pieces of the fence with their wires. You can also patch a smaller hole in the fence by weaving in a piece of wire mesh cut to fit, including the overhang.
Tip: As soon as you pinch off the wire mesh fence, the resulting wire ends are without corrosion protection. You should therefore either dip the wire ends in liquid plastic (in the case of plastic-coated wire mesh) or paint them with an appropriate rust protection agent.
Repair fence made of plastic
A fence made of plastic visibly weathers under the influence of UV radiation: it fades quickly and becomes brittle over time. It is precisely this fading that sometimes makes plastic fence repair difficult for you because shop-fresh replacement parts differ in color from an installed plastic fence after only a few months of service. The following applies: The stronger the color of the plastic, the stronger the color difference.
How to fix a tilted fence
If your fence is tilted, you need to make repairs as soon as possible to prevent it from deteriorating to the point where the entire structure may be damaged to the point where it has to be replaced rather than repaired. Typically, most fences start out leaning on posts, which are designed to hold the fence in the ground and provide structural support for the rest of the fence.
If the posts don’t have enough concrete or were even installed without concrete, or if the concrete has cracked and become loose, you can add new concrete supports to reinforce the post. Start by digging a hole in the ground around the post to the bottom of the existing concrete or the base of the post if there is no concrete. Then break up the concrete with a chisel and sledgehammer (always wear gloves and safety glasses). Remove the old concrete and then fill the hole with a new concrete base.
Shifting the soil
New homes often have soft soil because the ground was excavated during construction. The problem can also affect older homes in certain areas with high seismic activity. Over time, the soil will settle, and the posts may begin to lean as a result. This can be corrected using the same process required to correct a message with inadequate support. However, if your home is still new, you may want to wait a little while to replace the post if possible, as it may shift more.
Fences should always be made of treated wood that can resist moisture and insects. But even treated wood can begin to rot after a while, especially if the posts have been covered with soil over concrete, trapping moisture around the wood.
To solve this problem, you need to replace the posts completely. To do this, first, separate the post from the rails and slats to which it is attached. You can do this by removing any slats attached directly to the post and then cutting the post above and below the rails to ensure the stability of the fence while you remove the rail. Then dig a hole around the post to the bottom of the concrete. Break up the concrete with a sledgehammer and chisel and remove the fence post.
How to fix a tilted fence post
The first step in installing a leaning post is to determine exactly why it’s leaning. Is it leaning because the wood at the base has rotted away? Or because the ground beneath it has given way and now the post is wobbling in its hole? If your fence has metal posts, it’s important to make sure that the post hasn’t actually bent because of some kind of impact. What you’re looking for is a clear understanding of whether your post can simply be fixed or whether it needs to be completely replaced. Both bent metal posts and rotted wood posts will likely need to be replaced. We’ll look at some temporary solutions for rotted wooden posts or posts that sway inside a concrete base, but in general, this article covers posts that are in good condition and only require some excavation work at the base.
To level a post, you need to free it from the rest of the fence structure. In the case of a chain-link fence, this is usually as simple as removing the post’s retaining clips and cap to free it from the fence panel. For a wooden fence, you’ll need some spare 2x4x8s to reinforce the fence panels first. Attach the staples to both sides of the fence and anchor them to the ground. Now you can tear the horizontal stringers off the fence post. If you don’t have access to the other side of the fence or if you’re working in a tight corner, the easiest thing to do is remove the fence stringers from both sides of the post and use your 2×4 to create a temporary post on both sides.
Now it’s time for the hardest part. Assuming your post was set up correctly in the beginning, there will probably be a large chunk of concrete around the base of your post. Your goal is not to uproot or break off this prehistoric piece of rock, but simply to dig around it about 18 inches around and about two feet down. The goal is to remove enough material so that you can get your post back to a perfectly upright position and secure it in place. Use a level to make sure you are standing upright, and do a light test fit of the fence panel to make sure it gets back in place properly.
At this point, you have several options for filling the hole to keep your work in place. If you have fairly dry, stony soil, you can fill the hole with a 50/50 mixture of wet sand and fine gravel and compact it tightly in place. Leave the spacers in place for a few days, and you can reinstall the fence panel. For a stronger mortar, pour a bag of quick-setting concrete directly into the new hole and around the base of the post. Then slowly pour about a gallon of water into the hole and soak the dry concrete completely. This should set in about 40 minutes to an hour, and you should be able to re-attach the fence panel within four to six hours.
Then insert the new post into the hole, make sure it sits flat, and then fill the hole with concrete. Finally, remove the parts of the old post that are left in the fence, attach the guides to the new post, and replace any strips that were removed.
Alternatively, the post can be cut off above the rot and left in place, and the bottom part removed and replaced with another part of the post. The new post can then be leveled and cemented into the hole before it is attached to the old post with metal ties.
How to repair a fallen fence
A fence is only as good as its post. Wind, moving soil, falling trees, and other blunt force impacts can cause posts to fail. Once a fence has completely collapsed, the only lasting repair is to completely reinstall the posts. Pillars and other fence materials that are not broken or rotted can be reused, but not old concrete that has shifted, as it can rarely be reliably repaired. Disconnecting the fence panels from the post makes it easier to reinstall the posts.
Preparing to rebuild a fallen fence
To begin the process of rebuilding a fallen fence, lay the fallen portion of the fence with the picket or panel side up and supports toward the ground. Remove any screws from the face panels with a cordless drill. Stack the fallen panels or pickets for reuse. Break old concrete from the bases of the posts with a three-pound hammer and brick chisel.
Next, remove old concrete or broken posts from the fence post holes. Dig the hole to its original size and depth. Usually 10 to 12 inches in diameter and 24 inches deep. You can determine the original depth by measuring the distance from the bottom of the old post to the ground line.
Replace broken, rotten, or badly damaged posts. Install one post with a half bag of concrete in each hole. Start at one end of the fallen fence.
Pour water into the first hole and mix the concrete with scrap lumber. Use a level to check the post from front to back and side to side. Adjust the post so that the bubble is in the center of the level indicator, and fill the remainder of the hole with earth to keep the post upright until the concrete hardens.
Reattaching the panels or pickets
You are now ready to reattach the first panel by aligning the edge of the panel with the outside of the post. Using a cordless drill, screw two 3-inch screws with a machined deck through the panel surface and each horizontal rail into the surface of the post.
Place the second rack vertically and align the free edge of the first panel with the center of the second rack. Fasten the panel with screws like the first edge. Add water to the concrete and mix. Fill the hole with dirt.
Add the second panel, docked with the first, to the center of the second post. Attach the panel with screws as you did the first panel. Continue attaching and adding posts and panels, using the same technique, until all fallen fence panels are reattached. Then reattach the pickets as needed.