Help! My Fence Palings are Rotting, What Should I Do?
For most Australians, our fences are an integral part of their home. Your fence acts as a defensive barrier between your family’s property and the rest of the world, and it offers you safety, privacy and a carved-out personal space. So, what do you do when your fence palings start to rot?
Most objects have a shelf-life. When you buy quality things, they will likely last longer than cheaper alternatives, but everything eventually needs either repairing or replacing. Your fence is no different. If you have a budget, low-quality fence, you may start to face issues with it after only a few months. Premium fences will last for years or even decades before you experience these same issues, but they may happen all the same. So, what should you do when you notice that your timber fence is beginning to rot?
Why is my fence rotting?
If you have a wooden fence, unfortunately you may eventually experience rotting. Also known as wood decay, rotting is when a fungus begins to digest your wood, causing the cells to break down and your structural integrity to be compromised. Eventually, the fence will collapse from the rotten wood. Disaster. But why does it start to rot in the first place?
There are two main types of fence rot: wet and dry. Dry rot occurs when your fence is constantly exposed to a harsh, dry climate. Think: Australian summers. The hot breeze and sun strip your wood of its natural oils, which leaves it brittle and causes it to crumble. Wet rot is due to excessive moisture affecting your fence. This happens typically at the base of your fence posts, where your fence is in contact with the damp ground. Your wood will soften and crack from wet rot, and there may also be a musty, unpleasant smell.
How do I prevent rot?
First of all, try to determine whether your fence will be more susceptible to wet or dry rot. This will be based on where you live and your typical weather cycle. Next, select the most appropriate wood that is naturally able to resist said rot. Jim’s Fencing’s timber of choice is merbau. It’s naturally very tannin-rich, or filled with natural oils, making it highly resistant to dry rot. This makes it a perfect choice for anyone living across Australia, where the summers can get excessively hot.
Merbau is a very hard-wearing, sturdy wood and has the benefit of having a natural beautiful golden-brown shade that deepens with age. Because of its tannin content, it’s naturally resistant to termites – another common wooden fence downfall – but you can also get it treated to maximise its strength and durability. Once your merbau fence is installed, all you need to do is inspect it regularly and clean it occasionally to prevent rot.
If having rot seems too much of a hassle for you even to risk wood, you can also go with another fence material alternative, such as a modular wall or Colorbond steel fencing. These are both excellent choices as they are resistant to extreme weather conditions and are tremendously strong.
What do I do if my fence palings are rotting?
If your current fence is rotting, you have two options: repair or replace. Even if it is one small paling that is rotting, it would be worth having a fencing expert come out to examine it, as they’ll be able to pick up on more minor signs of rot that the everyday person may overlook. Jim’s Fencing offers fence inspections as well as repairs. A fencing expert will be able to evaluate the current state of your rotting fence and can tell you how bad the damage is. They may recommend replacing the entire thing, which is where you can use the earlier suggestions for your new fence. If the rot is not too bad, they’ll could also simply repair the damaged portion of the wall. Although you may consider DIY-ing the affected paling, you may risk compromising the entire structure of your fence by messing around with it. It’s generally better to get a qualified fence installer to fix any issues that you might face.
What are other actions I can take to prevent rotting?
- Regular inspections of your fence to notice any issues early and get them fixed before they spread or cause sagging or leaning of your fence.
- Painting or staining your timber fence adds a protective layer to the wood. Just make sure you keep on top of that, as staining only lasts for a few years, and paint can chip off.
- Cleaning your fence is also essential. You want to keep your fence clear of debris such as wet leaves or grass, as they stick to the timber and can potentially cause rot.
- Engage a professional to enforce your wooden fence posts with metal splints or braces. This is an option to use if you notice that a particular section of your fence tends to rot quickly. It may be that the ground is extra moist there. By bracing it with steel parts, you’re strengthening the integrity of the post, and it will last a lot longer.