A Complete Fence Maintenance Guide for Homeowners: Vinyl, Aluminum, Wood, and Chain-Link, Too

Gate and Fence Climbing

Whether your fence is there to keep things out, keep things in, or just add some curb appeal, regular fence maintenance is important to keep it looking good and functioning properly.

While maintenance-free options are popular now, even those fence types require a little love and attention once in a while. Most maintenance requires little more than a garden hose and screwdriver, so it’s well within the reach of any homeowner.

Let’s look at how to clean and repair problems for the most popular fence types available today.

Vinyl

Billed as the ultimate low-maintenance fence, vinyl is a popular option because it never needs painting and doesn’t scratch easily. Pretty much all it calls for is spraying it down with the hose to clean it off occasionally.

If part of the fence is near a sprinkler that keeps things damp, you want to be on the lookout for algae, mold, and mildew. Most of the time, the hose can rinse these off as well, but you can scrub it with soap and water if needed. Only if you’ve been neglecting the fence should you need a power washer for cleaning.

Give the fence a thorough visual inspection, walking down both sides to check the posts, panels, and rails. You’re looking for anything wobbly, leaning, or loose, including hidden metal connectors and fence post caps. Tighten loose screws, and replace broken or missing pieces.

Aluminum

Aluminum is similarly easy to take care of, with the occasional spray-down to remove grass clippings, dirt, and chemicals. Rinse the fence from bottom to top, then back down to the bottom to avoid streaking. Air dry or wipe it dry with a cloth.

Stains or more soiled areas should be tackled with a simple degreaser or soap and water. If you live in a coastal area, rinsing the fence regularly can reduce salt accumulations and the damage they cause.

When you inspect the fence, start with the gate, where you should tighten screws and oil hinges as needed. As you walk along the fence, look for and realign any loose posts and remove anything stacked up against or near the fence.

Wood

When your wood fence was installed, you might have had a wood preservative or stain applied to protect and seal the wood. Wood-fence maintenance can involve reapplying the same to keep the color intact or you can let it weather naturally. Use a fence or deck cleaner with a long-handled brush or pressure washer to keep it clean.

Repairs for a wood fence are fairly simple. Check for loose boards or pickets and resecure them to the rails. Change out any broken or rotting ones entirely.

Keep an eye out for insect damage or signs of termite tunnels. Make sure all posts are secure in their footings.

Chain-Link

While not exactly maintenance-free fencing, chain-link can be easy to take care of, as long as you stay on top of its key problem – rust.

You should spray a rust-resistant coating on the fence each year, giving special attention to the bottom section. Moisture from grass and dirt can encourage rust, which eats through the metal to create weak spots or holes.

Keeping chain-link clean involves spraying it down with water to remove dirt and debris. Only if you have a problem with bird feces or staining do you need to break out the soap and scrub brush.

Your inspection should start with the connections to the posts, as those tend to wear out first. They can come loose and pull away from the post, so check and tighten them. If your gate is sagging, tighten up the hinges and look for any missing bolts.

Hire Out Your Fence Maintenance

Routine fence maintenance is critical for keeping the structure looking its best and functioning as it should. No matter what material your fence is made from, inspections and cleaning should be on your to-do lists each year.

If your fence hasn’t been holding up well, you might consider replacing it with one of the many low-maintenance fencing options available. Contact us to talk about your choices or our fence-maintenance service.

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