Now is the time for spring cleaning—a chance to maintain and repair the parts of your home you’re not usually able to. But the chores can pile up and can feel overwhelming, and so you might be wondering about how much maintenance your fence actually requires. There are multiple factors involved in answering this question; here are some things to think about to help you find an answer.

What Material is It?

The material of your fence will determine the way it should be maintained. The most common types of fence materials are wood, vinyl, and chain link. Wood fences are generally coated with a protective finish or paint to help them weather the elements, but this finish can wear down over time, and will need to be reapplied to keep the fence looking nice and standing strong.

Vinyl fences require much less maintenance than wood ones, which is one reason they’re so popular. However, vinyl fences do require occasional maintenance like regular washing and mildew removal. Chain link fences are not as easy to maintain as vinyl, but are still relatively low maintenance. If you have a chain link fence, make sure to clean it regularly and treat rust properly, because metal often rusts when exposed to snow and icy rain.

How Old is It?

According to Five Star Rated , fences need more care and maintenance as they age, so it’s important to take age into account when considering the maintenance of your fence. This is particularly true of more sensitive materials, such as wood. Wood fences typically last between ten to fifteen years, but they typically show significant signs of wear after five to eight years.

You can maintain a wood fence by washing it regularly, replacing weak or damaged boards, using corrosion-resistant screws to pull loose pieces tightly together, repainting or varnishing it, and coating the posts with a wood preservative. The part of the fence where the posts emerge from the ground will require special attention, as this is the area that rots first.

How Much Punishment Does It Take?

Fences require more or less maintenance depending on the materials from which they’re made. Vinyl fences take more punishment than wood fences because they are more forgiving of damage and less susceptible to the regular beatings of the harsh wind, rain, ice, and snow. Wood fences (especially cedar) are quite sensitive to the weather and can be damaged, weakened, or bleached by the sun.

In addition to the elements, fences can be damaged by other factors in your home, such as kids’ rough horseplay or regular dowsing by sprinklers. If your sprinklers are hitting your fence every day, the solution is simple. According to The Sprinkler Guy , simply replacing the nozzle with the correctly sized one will keep your fences dry and your lawn green. Taking steps to keep your sprinklers from hitting your fence will prevent it from mildew, rust, and rot.

Where is It?

Both general and local location will impact the amount of maintenance your fence needs. If you live in a particularly wet climate, your fence will show signs of wear faster and require more maintenance than if you live in a hot, dry climate. Even vinyl and metal fences will begin to wear down faster if regularly subjected to harsh rain and icy snow. Taking the general weather conditions of your climate into account can help you determine the amount of wear your fence must endure and how often you should take steps to maintain it.

How Difficult is it to Clean?

A fence will require more maintenance depending on how difficult it is to clean. Dirt and grime are surprisingly damaging to any material, but especially wood. Dirt and grime can make a wooden fence weather and rot faster. Regular cleaning can dramatically slow the weathering of your fence, but it will require significant effort. According to Pressure Washers Direct , a power washer can work wonders on cleaning your fence, and dramatically decrease the effort required to clean it.

What is Its Function?

Not all fences are created equal. Some fences function primarily for aesthetic appeal, others are more to prevent and protect, and still others are used mainly as a boundary between properties. The amount of maintenance your fence will require depends on how you intend it to function for your home. If your fence is being mainly used for its aesthetic value, it will obviously require more maintenance to keep it looking beautiful and new. If it’s being used to keep a pet in the yard, it will require a different type of maintenance to ensure it stays strong and functional.

Assessing the material, age, location, function, and durability of your fence can help you determine how much maintenance it really requires. Taking these variables into account will help you keep your fence functional for as long as possible and increase its lifespan significantly.

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