At Buzz, we’ve heard this heartbreaking story too many times: Homeowners decide to build a fence themselves, or, worse, they hire a disreputable fence company. The fence is finished, it looks gorgeous, until one day, often in summer, you think you must be hallucinating. No, that can’t be a crack in your beautiful new wood fence!
If you’re just starting your fence building process, then you still have time for prevention. Otherwise, you’ll want to skip ahead to the section below on damage control and repair.
What causes cracks?
Pressure and moisture are the big crack culprits. New wood is wetter inside than many homeowners realize. Not only is there natural moisture, but lumber is often treated with chemicals to prevent rot. As the sun dries your new wood fence, it sucks out moisture, putting pressure on wood fibers. Little cracks start to appear where the moisture used to be. Poorly installed fence hardware also creates tension. The thinner your wood, the more severe the cracks will be. It usually pays off to invest in higher-grade wood.
Let’s say you’re in the enviable position of reading this post before you’ve installed a new fence. The best thing you can do is buy high quality wood and seal the wood before cracks appear. If you’re really devoted to your future fence, and ready for intense labor, seal and stain all sides of the fence boards before building it. Dry them on a rack inside your garage or other shaded area.
Your best bet for hardware is to pre-drill holes, then insert screws or, if you must, nails. If you do use nails, they should be blunted, not sharp. Don’t place nails or screws too close to the edges of boards, as this can cause splitting.
But what if little cracks have already appeared in your beloved new fence? If the cracks are small, you can fill them with epoxy or another wood filler. For larger cracks, coat the sides of the crack with waterproof glue, then wedge in wood scraps to fill the cracks. This is a temporary fix, but will help until you replace individual boards or the whole fence. Sanding cracked boards may also help. Once it looks as good as it’s going to get, slather sealer or stain on all exposed surfaces.
Avoid power washing a wood fence, as it shoots more water into the cracks, which will continue to expand.
Questions about building a new fence? Or not sure whether your old fence is worth saving? Give your friends at Buzz a call today.