14

June

Commercial Wood Fence Problems – Know the Potential Risks

Wood Fencing for Commercial Properties and Potential Problems

commercial wood fencing leaning and in need of repair


Commercial wood fences are a popular choice for businesses seeking a blend of aesthetic appeal, privacy, and functionality.

These fences provide a natural look that complements various architectural styles and landscapes. However, like any material, wood fences come with their own set of challenges.

Understanding these potential commercial wood fence problems can help you maintain your fence's longevity and performance.

Weather-Related Issues

rotting wood privacy fence

Effects of Rain and Moisture

Rain and moisture can significantly impact wood fences, leading to problems such as rot and decay. Wood absorbs water, which can cause it to swell and weaken over time.

This is especially problematic in areas with high humidity or frequent rainfall.

To mitigate these effects, it's crucial to apply water-resistant sealants and ensure proper drainage around the fence.

R&T Fence Pro Tip: We use pressure treated lumber when constructing our wood fences. Designed to withstand the elements, it provides years of trouble free service.

Commercial Wood Fence Problems Related to Sun Exposure 

Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause wood fences to fade and dry out, making them brittle and prone to cracking.

UV rays break down the wood's fibers, leading to discoloration and weakening. Regular application of UV-protective stains or paints can help preserve the wood's appearance and structural integrity.

Damage from Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can affect the durability of wood fences. High heat can cause the wood to dry out and crack, while freezing temperatures can lead to frost heave and structural damage.

It's essential to choose wood species that are suited to your local climate and to apply treatments that can help the wood withstand temperature fluctuations.

Structural Problems on Commercial Wood Fences

wood fence with warped and leaning fence posts

Warping and Bowing

Warping and bowing are common issues with wood fences, often caused by uneven moisture absorption or drying.

This can lead to misalignment and instability in the fence structure. To prevent warping, it's important to use well-seasoned wood and ensure even exposure to environmental conditions.

Most, warping and bowing occurs during the first season wood fencing is constructed when the lumber is in the drying stage.  

Rotting and Decay

Wood rot is a serious problem that occurs when the fence is exposed to moisture over extended periods. Rotting wood loses its strength and can crumble or break easily.

Regular inspections and maintenance, including the application of preservatives and sealants, are crucial in preventing rot.

Splitting and Cracking

Splitting and cracking can occur due to the natural expansion and contraction of wood as it responds to environmental changes.

These issues can compromise the fence's structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. Regular maintenance, such as sealing and treating the wood, can help minimize splitting and cracking.

Pest and Insect Damage

wood fence with rotted posts

Termite Infestations

Termites are a significant threat to wood fences, as they feed on the cellulose in wood and can cause extensive damage.

Here in Northeast Ohio termites are not such a threat when compared to Southern climates.  

Signs of termite infestations include hollow-sounding wood and visible tunnels. Regular inspections and treatments with termite-resistant chemicals can help protect your fence.

Damage from Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants excavate wood to create their nests, which can weaken the fence structure. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat the wood but can still cause considerable damage.

As a result causing expensive commercial wood fence problems. Keeping the fence clean and applying insecticidal treatments can help prevent infestations.

Preventing Pest Problems

Preventing pest problems involves a combination of regular inspections, proper maintenance, and the use of protective treatments.

Keeping the area around the fence free of debris and vegetation can also reduce the likelihood of pest infestations.

Commercial Wood Fencing Maintenance Challenges

wood fence with loose pickets requiring maintenance

Regular Cleaning and Sealing

Regular cleaning and sealing are essential to maintain the appearance and durability of wood fences. It's also one of the best ways to prevent commercial wood fence problems.

Cleaning removes dirt, mold, and mildew, while sealing protects the wood from moisture and UV damage.

The amount of time between cleaning and sealing your fence will be determined by the climate you live in, the fence's exposure to sunlight or shade and any other factors that may adversely affect the fence.

R&T Fence Pro Tip: Use a pressure washer to clean your wood fence before sealing it in order to remove any dirt from the wood. Allow to dry completely before applying sealers. 

Painting and Staining Helps Prevent Commercial Wood Fence Problems

Painting and staining not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of commercial wood fencing but also provide a protective layer against the elements.

These treatments need to be reapplied periodically to ensure continued protection. The frequency depends on the quality of the paint or stain and the environmental conditions.

Repairing Damaged Sections

Over time, sections of the wood fence may become damaged due to weather, pests, or accidents.

Promptly repairing damaged sections can prevent further deterioration and maintain the fence's overall integrity.

This may involve replacing broken boards, reinforcing weak areas, or applying protective treatments.

Security and Stability Concerns

wood fence with leaning and heaving posts

Fence Leaning or Tilting

Leaning or tilting fences can occur due to soil erosion, improper installation, or structural weaknesses.

This not only affects the fence's appearance but also its functionality and security. Reinforcing the fence posts and ensuring proper installation can help address this issue.

This is one of the common commercial wood fence problems on new construction sites where virgin soil has been excavated and regraded without being compacted.

When installing a commercial wood fence all of our wood fence posts at a minimum 36" deep in order to provide a stable foundation for the fence.

Many of our taller commercial wood fences have posts depths ranging between 42" - 48" in depth and surrounded with concrete footings. 

Loose or Broken Boards

Loose or broken boards can compromise the security and appearance of the fence. Regular inspections and prompt repairs are necessary to maintain the fence's stability.

Using high-quality fasteners and ensuring proper installation can help prevent boards from becoming loose or broken.

Here at R&T Fence, we've recently switched to all stainless steel fasteners in order to provide the highest quality fencing available. 

Weak or Compromised Posts

The fence posts are the backbone of the structure, and if they become weak or compromised, the entire fence can be affected.

Regularly checking the posts for signs of rot, damage, or instability is crucial in order to prevent commercial wood fence problems and to help prolong the life of your fence.

Reinforcing or replacing weak posts can ensure the fence remains sturdy and secure.

Environmental and Surrounding Factors Causing Commercial Wood Fence Problems

wood fence covered in vegetation

Impact of Vegetation and Plant Growth

Vegetation and plant growth can impact wood fences by trapping moisture against the wood and promoting rot.

Roots can also shift the soil and affect the fence's stability. Regularly trimming vegetation and ensuring proper drainage around the fence can help mitigate these issues.

Soil Erosion and Ground Shifting

Soil erosion and ground shifting can cause the fence to lean or destabilize. Proper installation with deep-set posts and adequate drainage can help prevent these problems.

In areas prone to soil movement, additional support structures may be necessary.

R&T Fence Pro Tip: Installing posts at deeper depths and or at closer intervals can help stabilize a fence in shifting ground. 

Aesthetic Deterioration

wood fence with faded pickets

Fading and Discoloration

Fading and discoloration are common aesthetic issues with wood fences, caused by sun exposure and weathering.

Applying UV-protective stains or paints and performing regular maintenance can help preserve the wood's appearance.

Mold and Mildew Growth

Mold and mildew can grow on wood fences, especially in damp or shaded areas, leading to unsightly stains and potential health hazards.

Regular cleaning with appropriate solutions can remove mold and mildew and prevent their recurrence.

R&T Fence Pro Tip: In shady damp areas try to avoid pores lumber for wood fences like cedar. The dry lumber tends to wick and hold moisture. Promoting rot, decay, mildew and mold growth when the fence is not exposed to sunlight.  

Staining and Surface Damage

Stains from environmental pollutants, bird droppings, or other sources can mar the appearance of wood fences.

Surface damage from impacts or abrasions can also detract from the fence's look.

Regular cleaning and maintenance, including sanding and refinishing damaged areas, can keep the fence looking its best.

Preventative Measures to Help Prevent Commercial Wood Fence Problems

damaged wood fencing

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Regular inspections and maintenance are key to preventing and addressing common problems with wood fences.

Inspecting the fence at least twice a year and after severe weather events can help identify and address issues early.

Using High-Quality Materials

Using high-quality materials for your commercial wood fence can significantly reduce the likelihood of problems.

Choosing durable wood species, quality fasteners, and protective treatments can enhance the fence's longevity and performance.

Protective Treatments and Coatings

Applying protective treatments and coatings can help safeguard your wood fence against weather, pests, and other damaging factors. 

Sealants, stains, and paints provide a barrier that helps maintain the wood's integrity and appearance.

Conclusion

While commercial wood fences offer numerous benefits, they also come with a range of potential problems.

By understanding these issues and implementing preventative measures, you can ensure that your wood fence remains a valuable and attractive asset for your business.

Regular maintenance, prompt repairs, and the use of high-quality materials are essential to maximizing the lifespan and functionality of your commercial wood fence.

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About the author 

Jeff Becka

Hi, I'm Jeff
As the President of R&T Fence Company, I have dedicated the last 29 years to the fence industry, specializing in sales and installation. I began my career here at the age of 19, and now, at 48, I can confidently say I have learned just about everything there is to know about fencing.