How to Repair a Fence

Rob Reed | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

One important aspect of maintaining your property is keeping fences in good repair. A damaged fence can compromise privacy, security and the appearance of your home. Use these tips to tackle the most common fence repair projects.

Fence post repair

Fence posts support the slats and rails of wooden and vinyl fences, or the pipes and fabric in a chain link fence. You will usually need to disassemble the portion of the fence you are trying to repair. A few rules of thumb, regarding different types of fence posts:

  • Wooden fence posts can often be splinted to repair damage or dry rot.
  • Metal fence posts that are bent will usually need to replaced.
  • Vinyl posts can sometimes be glued with special PVC glue.
  • A fence post that is tilted, loose or wobbly can be fixed by digging into the footing, returning the fence post to the proper position, and then reinforcing the footing with concrete.

Repairing fence rails and slats

One common problem with wooden fence rails is that they pull away from their posts. Most rail and slat damage is caused by rotting wood. Use these six tips to repair wooden fences:

  1. Wooden fence rails can be reinforced with wooden 2-by-4s installed underneath the rail or a galvanized T-brace.
  2. If a fence rail cannot be repaired, it should be dismantled and replaced. Before dismantling, take digital photos of how the joints meet and where the slats are so they can be properly reassembled.
  3. Remove the slats with a hammer or pry tool. Depending on the condition of existing slats, you may be able to salvage them, or you may want to install new slats at this time.
  4. Measure the distance between the posts and cut each new rail from pressure-treated lumber. Fasten the rails with galvanized nails.
  5. Reinstall the existing or replacement slats. Cut them to length ahead of time and match them to remaining slats.
  6. Complete the repair by painting, staining or sealing the wood to reduce future damage by the elements.

Chain link fence repair

The easiest way to repair a chain link fence is to remove and replace the damaged portion. This applies to the posts, pipes (rail) and the chain link fabric. These four steps can help you fix chain link fences:

  1. Remove chain link fabric using pliers; untie the fabric twist on top and remove.
  2. Remove the pipe (rail), and take off tension bands, brace bands and post caps. Then, unslide the pipe from the pipe caps. You'll need to remove these parts to install the new pipe. It is preferable to go through these slightly difficult steps, in lieu of just cutting the pipe and sliding out the pieces.
  3. Take a portion of the damaged section with you to a fencing supply store, so you can match the sizes exactly. Measure all components to ensure you get compatible parts. There are several standard sizes of posts, pipes and chain link fabric; they are not all compatible with one other.
  4. Use a chain link fence spreader or a come-along tool to set the tension, when installing new chain link fabric. You can also do this to tighten a sagging chain link fence that is otherwise sound.

Whether you're skilled at DIY home repair, or you're a novice looking for a challenge, with the right tools and some patience, you too can learn fence repair.