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Fencing lesson; Nuts & Bolts.

Is your fence about to take flight? Years of neglect may be about to result in it lifting off when the next high winds hit your home.

One moment it will be marking the boundary of your home - the next it will be disappearing towards the horizon, leaving you with a heavy repair bill.

Wooden fences in your garden take a battering over the years with wind and rain taking their toll.

The best course of action is to carry out regular maintenance. Painting on a wood preservative every few years can add years to its life. And making running repairs can also keep expensive replacement at bay.

If you have the know-how, repairs need not be difficult for the DIY enthusiast.

There are various types of fences, but the first thing that usually needs repairing are the posts. A wooden post is pushed into the damp ground and then the wooden equivalent of a sail is attached to it, bending it first one way and then the other in the wind.

The most common point of failure is just below ground level. This area can rot and the wind then breaks the post off. The post can either be replaced or simply supported.

Start by removing the fence panels attached to the post. Where clips have been used to secure panels or brackets have been used to secure arris rails, remove the clips or brackets and lift the post out and install a new one.

As with fitting new fence posts, you can either concrete the fence post into the ground or use a fence spike to hold the post.

If you use a post spike, hammer it into the ground, but always remember to remove the rotten remains of the old post first. If necessary, ram some more earth into the hole to support the spike.

If you have closeboard fences where the arris rails are supported in notches, or panel fences where nails hold the panels to the posts, it is more difficult to remove a single damaged post without destroying part of the fence.

In this case use a spur, which is a short concrete post, put in next to the existing post, with long bolt securing the post to the spur.

Remove the gravel boards, dig a hole next to the post and concrete the spur in place. Again you must remove the rotten part of the post before securing the spur with concrete.

Another repair that often has to be carried out is to damaged arris rails. Use galvanised arris rail repair brackets and some galvanised nails.

For a split or crack in the length of the arris rail, the repair bracket is simply put in place over the damage and nailed or screwed down. But where the arris rail meets the post, a different type of repair bracket has to be nailed or screwed to both the rail and post.

Damaged or missing feather-edge boarding can easily be replaced. It comes in standard sizes but can be cut to size. A single piece or a whole section can be replaced.

When putting it up, put a thick edge against the post and then place the next thick edge over the thin edge of the first piece. Make sure the overlap is consistent along the fence. The boards are secured to the arris rails with galvanised nails.

Gravel boards need to be replaced from time to time. Remove the old rotten one and cut the new one to the correct length and secure it in place using the old brackets and screws, or new ones if they are rusted. You may need to dig some gravel away to fit the gravel board.

Although the bottom of the posts is the most likely place to rot, water getting into the top of the posts can cause them to split. Always fit post caps to the top of posts to throw the rain off. These can easily be replaced if they get damaged.

When repairs have been completed, give the whole fence a good coating of creosote or a water-based fence preservative.


Question: Should I change my locks when I move into a new home?

Answer: It is worth doing as you never know who may have a key. If you buy identical locks, they will fit snugly without having to re-cut the doors.

Question: Can I run electrical cable along a garden fence?

Answer: No, a fence is too flimsy, but you can run it along a garden wall, providing you are confident you know what you are doing.


Install a shower in its own cubicle, perhaps in a bedroom or a downstairs cloakroom. This will be particularly refreshing for a busy family in the summer.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 26, 1999
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