Prevent And Repair Cracks In Your Wood Fence

Your wood fence contractor can build a beautiful fence, but once it's up, you have to take care of it correctly to minimize chances of damage and maximize the fence's usable life. One type of damage to look out for is cracked and splitting wood fence boards.

Here's what you need to know about cracks in your wood fence and how to deal with them.

Causes

First of all, wood fence cracks can come from several different sources. For example:

  • Moisture fluctuations can cause the wood to swell up and shrink repeatedly, which may result in a crack
  • Freeze-thaw cycles may cause moisture to swell up inside the wood, creating a crack
  • Wind (especially tropical storm–strength winds) may place undue force on the fence, causing some of it to crack under the strain
  • Debris falling on the fence may also cause cracks and splintering

Prevention

As you can see, several potential causes of cracks have to do with moisture. So keeping your wood fence well-maintained with a strong, moisture-repelling coat of sealant is the first step in prevention. You can also have your fence contractor inspect the fence for any areas that seem susceptible to cracking and reinforce them or repair them preemptively.

Drainage around your fence is very important as well. Even a well-maintained fence can suffer water damage if the area floods and soaks the fence's lower half. So treat any marshy, flood-prone areas near the fence with a solution such as a French drain to avoid flooding your fence.

To avoid damage from wind, you can choose a fence with more widely placed, narrower slats to allow wind to move freely through the fence. Or, you can plant bushes on the fence's windward side to help redirect wind so it's less likely to hit the fence head-on. You can also talk to your contractor about the possibility of reinforcing your fence against the wind.

Repairs

Once a crack has occurred, repair may depend on the size, severity, and placement of the crack. In some cases, you may be able to have a superficial crack filled and painted over. In other cases, your contractor could replace just one or two affected boards or fence posts. 

Or, if the affected portion is small (such as when just the tip of a board cracks and breaks off due to falling debris), your contractor may be able to simply glue it back in place. Repair options can be more limited when your fence cracks from moisture since moisture damage can come with rot and may mean the board needs to be replaced entirely.

These basics can help you get a handle on how to deal with potential cracks in your wood fence. For more information, get in touch with a wood fence contractor in your area.

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