How to Winterize Your Fence

March 31, 2024

Every homeowner knows that there are steps that need to be taken each winter to prepare your property to face the cold. Depending on where you live, and the type of house you live in, these steps will all be different. Many of us begin buying salt, checking our generators, and pulling the winter clothes from storage. Just like the rest of our lives, our fences need to be prepared for winter as well--and it is better to take on this task sooner rather than later.Problems Winter Can PoseIf you choose to not prepare your fence to face the coming winter, you could end up facing a slew of problems yourself. There are several risks to not winterizing your fence properly, and these could be costly--both for your pocketbook and your peace of mind. These may include a decreased level of security, a reduced level of privacy, poor curb appeal, an increased likelihood for lawsuits, expensive repairs, and possibly even needing to replace your entire fence. Thinking of waiting until after the first frost to start? Cleaning and repairs often get skipped when it’s cold and snowy outside, and adding water to wood or metal when it’s below freezing can make potential problems worse.Benefits of WinterizingAlthough winterizing your fence may be expensive, it may very well be even more expensive if you don’t. Therefore, it’s well worth putting in the extra time and money now to ensure your fence is properly winterized, as it will save you a hefty sum in the long term.There are several benefits to winterizing your fence, the most important being that it will increase the level of security to your property throughout the winter. If your fence is falling apart, not only will it pose a security risk to you, but also a safety hazard for your surrounding neighbors. It is much more difficult to replace a fence in the winter--and an unnecessarily expensive hassle--so save yourself the trouble now and begin to prepare your fence for the chilly season before the first winter frost!How to Winterize Different Types of Fences Though “winterizing your fence” is easier said than done, and the process for doing so greatly depends on the type of fence you have. Although it is always recommended to have a professional guide you through the process to ensure a thorough job is completed, winterizing your fence is a process that can be completed by yourself at home.Regardless of the material your fence is made from, there are a few steps that every fence owner needs to take for every type of fence every year. To begin, some of these steps should be performed a few times throughout the year anyway, as well as right before the first frost. No matter what type of material you have, you should always perform an inspection of the entire structure. Take note of any areas that possess significant damage, including cracks, scrapes in coating or paint, and missing pieces and panels, and repair these before doing anything else.VinylIf you have a vinyl fence, as previously stated, the first step is to thoroughly inspect your fence. Give the entire structure a deep, thorough cleaning. Power-washing is the easiest and most effective way of cleaning, and it can often be fun, as well. Although vinyl fences are some of the sturdiest and most likely to hold up over winter with few necessary repairs, consider having a fencing professional conduct a more thorough inspection and provide their own advice and services.AluminumAlthough many different types of fences may be made from aluminum, most of these types of fences are chain-link fences--and they are often the most neglected. However, in order to maintain their appearance and effectiveness, chain link fences need just as much care as any other. Make sure you go around your fence and spray worn down areas with aluminum surface paint to prevent rusting. If rust has already set in, scrub it away with a brush and spray it down thoroughly to prevent more. Coat all latches, chains, and hinges with a powder coat or a rust protector, as these are the most important parts of the fence.SteelIn the olden days, wrought iron fences used to be extremely difficult to maintain in the winter. Because of this, the majority of typical “wrought iron fences” that most people own are actually made of steel, which is a material that is much easier to maintain and less expensive to repair or replace. However, steel fences need just as much attention as any other, and the right powder coating is a must. Check the entire fence over for scratches and dings to the paint, as these things can pose a rust risk. Repair these by adding a new layer of paint and coating.WoodWooden fences are by far the most difficult type of fence to winterize, as they are prone to water damage and rot. When you perform an inspection on your wooden fence, take note of any damaged, loose, warped, or sagging boards. If the entire board is not destroyed, you will need to cut away the damaged and rotting areas and seal them in with putty. If you would prefer to replace the entire board, or if the entire board is damaged, this is also an option. You’ll also want to scrub the entire fence down with a detergent and bleach solution, and, finally, paint and restain the entire fence. Doing these things may initially appear to be costly and time-consuming, but it is not nearly as costly as having the replace your entire fence come springtime.In conclusion, choosing not to winterize your fence is not something you want to consider. The costs of skipping this important fence care step significantly outweigh the costs to complete it. Although you should always perform a basic inspection beforehand and touch up any inconsistencies, the process of winterizing your fence differs depending on the material it’s made from. Use this article as a guide to winterizing your own fence.