Caring for a picket fence | Living the Country Life

Caring for a picket fence

If the picket fencing is made of wood, expect some maintenance from time-to-time. Adding a new coat of paint and checking for decay will increase the longevity of the fence.

Radio interview source: Chad Hoover, President, Hoover Fence Co.

A picket fence is a wonderful way to mark property lines and make an architectural statement at the same time. However, a wooden fence takes some maintenance. 
Chad Hoover is the president of a fencing company in Ohio. He says general cleaning can be done with a power washer or a wire brush. A picket fence that's been stained or painted fades over time and needs a touch-up with another coat.
Rot is a wood fence's biggest enemy, so periodically check for decay.
"When you grab a picket and act like you're going to pull it off, the fasteners, usually nails, that hold the picket to the 2x4 back rail, a lot of times you'll see those nails are starting to pull out and the wood itself will shrink in time so they become loose," he says. "And with an older picket fence, you'll see pickets are starting to fall off sometimes because the fasteners haven't failed, rather, the wood has started to soften up so the fasteners just back out naturally."
Hoover says you can re-drive nails into new holes, but you're probably better off at that point replacing the boards.
The bottom of the fence is especially susceptible to decay from moisture. He says the pickets should be about two-inches off the ground.  
"It will still have blades of grass often times touching it, which dew and rain will cause the wood to wick in that moisture," says Hoover. "Sometimes you can see across the bottom of a picket fence actual water marks, or stain, where water has obviously sat or continued to wick. And you'll see, say a 4-foot high picket fence, the bottom-third of the fence at most, sometimes you can see a difference in color and that's from moisture from the ground."
The tops of the pickets, the horizontal rails, and the tops of the posts, are also susceptible to moisture. If you've done all you can to preserve the fence and it's still falling apart, it might be time to replace it with vinyl.



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