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How To Repair a Wooden Fence

There are many different types of fences but probably the most popular and ubiquitous is the wooden fence. Whether picket fences, two rail fences, Russell fences, or screening type wooden fences, they all share at least one trait in common: They are made of wood and wood deteriorates in the weather; it rots in the ground; it splits and cracks from repeated exposure to sun, wind, and rain; insects like termites and carpenter ants destroy the wood. These fences all require regular maintenance and routine repairs.

Repairing wooden fences is a routine task, in most cases, that requires basic carpentry skills and a willingness to engage in manual labor.

Wooden fences are comprised of three basic components: Vertical posts, rails, and pickets or screening boards.

Determining the extent of the damage

Repairing wooden fences is a good project for the do-it-yourselfer

Repairing wooden fences is a good project for the do-it-yourselfer

  1. If a post is loose in the ground, inspect it closely to determine if it is simply loose in its hole or if it is broken or rotted at or below the ground level.
  2. To replace the post, cut the nails or screws that hold the rails to the post. You can use a sawzall with a metal-cutting blade to cut the fasteners rather than try to pull them or unscrew them.

Remove the broken post.

  1. Dig down in the ground to remove the broken or rotted post base.
  2. Purchase a new 4 x 4 post or proper sized timber. Pressure treated lumber can be treated for different purposes so make sure that it is treated for ground contact.
  3. Cut the post to the proper length and treat the cut end with a ground contact-rated preservative or leave it up in the air and treat it with the same stain or preservative as the rest of the fence.
  4. Place the post in the ground and support it by driving stakes in the ground 90 degrees apart. Then attach 1″ x 2″ supports from the stakes about two thirds of the way up the post.
  5. Mix some concrete and pour it in the hole. Push the point of a sand shovel into the wet cement to work out air pockets as you pour the cement in. Crown the cement slightly around the bottom of the post to let water run off.
  6. Let the cement harden.
  7. Reattach the rails to the post using galvanized 12d or 16d nails or plated screws.
  8. Finish the job by applying one or more coats of a good quality stain preservative or paint.

Replacing rails

  1. If a rail is rotted, split, or broken, replacing it is as simple as cutting the fasteners that hold the rail to the post.
  2. You will also need to cut or pull the fasteners that secure the vertical screening boards or pickets to the rail.
  3. Cut the new rail out of the proper size dimension lumber.
  4. Treat the rail or paint it with the proper preservative, stain, or paint. If the rail is a lower one and will come into contact with the ground at some point, be sure to use a ground contact preservative.

Replacing pickets or screening boards

  1. Use the same techniques and precautions in replacing the pickets or screening boards.


There are several types of wood that have natural preservative properties. Cedar, redwood, and poplar are just some of the more common ones to use.

Regular applications of preservatives, stains, or paints will help to prolong the life of your wood fence.

Keep grass and weeds trimmed below the fence to help minimize insect and water damage.

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