The white picket fence stands tall.

Should I Repair or Replace My Storm-Damaged Fence?

When inclement weather passes your way, the infrastructure and landscaping of your property could be at risk. When a storm hits and severe rains and high winds come through, fences are among the most vulnerable to storm damage. Whether you have a metal, wooden, wrought iron, aluminum, vinyl, bamboo, or chain-link fence, your fence may be vulnerable to structural damage; some of which are repairable, and others not. Of course, some materials used to build fences are more sturdy and durable than other kinds. Masonry well fencing (made using bricks, concrete, stone, block, or stucco) is the most durable and weather-resistant fence. Other varieties of fences– such as vinyl, wrought iron, and chain link–  are also quite durable, especially when sealed with a special coating. Wooden fences, on the other hand, are usually built from thinner panels and are therefore at higher risk of suffering rain or wind damage.

Storm damage can result in a variety of unfavorable impacts to your fence, including rust, cracks, splinters, and rot. If strong enough winds occur, such as in the event of a powerful thunderstorm or a hurricane, fence boards may topple over and the entire unit can fall to pieces. In that case, the fence is likely irreparable and a replacement will be in order. The best way to avoid this situation is to have a sturdy, durable fence built to resist harsh weather impacts and to invest in maintaining it. We’ve been installing fences that stand up to the weather for over 30 years in the metro DC area!

Repairing vs Replacing a Storm-Damaged Fence

If your fence has suffered storm damage, it’s time to think about what’s next. You can either repair the fence or replace it completely. Sometimes, replacing the entire fence is more affordable than trying to DIY repair bits and pieces. Now, how do you make the decision to repair or replace? Before deciding whether to replace or repair, you should take a few things into consideration.

First, the material of the fence — Because different materials provide different levels of durability and longevity, the material your fence is built from matters.

Wooden fences may show more visible weather damage since wood is a natural material and not synthetic. Visible impacts include discoloration, broken planks, and debris. Wood rot occurs when exposed to high levels of moisture (ie. heavy rain or very humid conditions) that attract fungi. Wood fences can also be impacted by other environmental factors including termites and other wood-destroying pests.

Vinyl fences are generally a durable and low-maintenance fence option. Vinyl is stronger than wood and can last for several years without noticeable damage and still maintain its attractive appearance. However, storms and other harsh weather events can still leave a mark on vinyl fences. The lower the quality the fence is, the more prone it will be to weather impacts. For instance, extreme heat or extreme cold can cause vinyl to expand and contract. Properly installed, high-quality vinyl fences can last for years to come.

Aluminum fences are quite sturdy and known to be weather-resistant. But no fence is completely immune to storm impacts. Heavy winds can bend or break aluminum fences, while too much moisture can cause corrosion. Unlike wooden fences, aluminum fences will not rot, no matter how much moisture, heavy rains, and humidity they are exposed to. Aluminum fences are among the most durable on the market.

Assess the Damage – Before you rush ahead and attempt to repair or replace a storm-damaged fence, you should assess the damage and determine its severity. From there, you can estimate the cost of repairs. If the damage is severe, it will be too costly to try and repair it. In that case, you’re likely better off replacing the fence altogether.

After the storm has passed, inspect your fence for possible damage. On a wooden fence, check for signs of rot, discoloration, insects, and broken or cracked panels. Other signs a wooden fence requires repair include warping and splintering. Flooding is a major concern. If your wooden fence was submerged in water, it will be much more susceptible to rot and mold.

On vinyl fences, inspect carefully for cracks in the panels. If you locate cracks on your vinyl fence, it is better to replace it with a new one. High wind speeds may also knock rails and pickets down.

Aluminum fences are quite durable, but you should still check it out for potential storm damage. Extreme weather events like hurricanes can shift the soil, which may compromise the foundation of your fence (ie. fence poles coming loose). Depending on the extent of the damage, you might need to replace an individual section or rail.

Other Considerations For Repairing 

Repairing a fence can be expensive and time-consuming. If you do decide to make repairs, you should know it won’t look the same once it’s complete. It will be obvious that it has undergone maintenance, as you can easily distinguish the older parts from the newer, shiner parts. Also, there may be more damage that you can’t see that has weakened the parts you might not repair. Repairing a fence can end up being a costly and time-consuming project depending on the severity of damage and the type of fence and materials you’re dealing with.

Replacing A Fence 

Post-storm damage, some fences are just too worn down to repair. Harsh weather impacts such as high-speed winds and heavy rainfall (caused by thunderstorms or hurricanes) can leave permanent damage to fences made of any material. As a general rule of thumb, if the repairs require replacing 20% or more of the panels or pickets, it is better to purchase a whole new fence.

You also should take into consideration the cost of potential repairs. Some common repairs include replacing rotted wooden boards, filling cracks or holes with putty or wood filler, and repainting to reverse discoloration.

For wooden fences, it is recommended to do a maintenance check-up once a year. Wooden fences should be sealed at least once a year to prevent decay. Sealing and/or staining maintains the beauty of the fence and elongates its life span.

Maintenance should be your number one priority. However, if storm damage is widespread or causes irreparable damage to your fence, it may not be worth it to repair and you should replace the entire fence.

When To Replace A Fence

It is best to replace your fence entirely in the case of:

  • Severe, structural storm damage (ie. multiple panels or pickets destroyed or fallen apart)
  • Damage by termites or other pests and insects
  • Widespread rotting on wooden fence panels
  • Fence has reached the end of its natural lifespan (wooden fences can last between 5-30 years depending on type of wood)

Contact An Expert to Replace Your Storm-Damaged Fence

Beitzell Fence gives free estimates. Leave it up to the experts and get the help you need to replace your fence. Beitzell Fence is here to help homeowners all over Northern Virginia with high-quality fences that enhance your property and boost security. Contact us for a free estimate today or request a quote now on our website.

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