A classic picket fence adds beauty to any front yard or garden. Unfortunately, it can also add more maintenance headaches than most other types of fencing. Paint or stain your fence regularly (at least every other year), and you’ll minimize the number of times you’ll have to repair an occasional picket, rail or post as described below.
Difficulty: Moderately challenging
Things You’ll Need:
- 4-by-4 Piece Of Pressure-treated Lumber
- Gravel Or Small Stones
- Paint Or Stain
- Replacement Picket Or Board
- Galvanized Nails
- Carpenter’s Level
- Electric Drill
- Electric Jigsaw
- Pry Bar
- Tape Measure
- Two Lag Bolts With Nuts And Washers
Replacing a picket
Loosen the old picket by hammering on it on the side opposite the nails.
Complete the removal of the picket with the hammer and a pry bar. Use the claw end of the hammer to remove any nails that remained in the rail.
Cut a picket to the length of the one you’re replacing. If you don’t have a premade picket in the same style, trace the outline of the top of the old picket onto a new board that’s the same thickness and width of the old picket. Then cut along the lines with an electric jigsaw.
Attach the new picket by driving two galvanized nails through it into each rail.
Apply paint or stain to match the rest of your fence.
Reinforcing a rail
Chip away any rotted wood near the end of the rail.
Cut a 2-by-4 to make a wooden block that is as long as the fence post is wide, usually about 3 1/2 inches (9 cm).
Nail the rail to the wooden block.
Apply paint or stain to the end of the rail and to the new block.
Installing a “sister” post
The following is a good way to repair a post that has become rotten underground without having to remove the entire post–and possibly a whole section of fence with it.
Cut through the post about 2 inches (5 cm) above the ground.
Dig around the base of the post. If the post is encased in concrete, use a hammer or sledgehammer to break up the concrete.
Remove the underground section of the post.
Dig around the edges of the hole to make it straight-sided, about 1 foot (30 cm) wide, with a center that is 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) from the side of the old post.
Pour a 4-inch (10-cm) layer of gravel or small stones into the bottom of the hole.
Measure the depth of the new hole.
Cut a 4-by-4 piece of pressure-treated lumber so it’s twice as long as the hole is deep. Cut the top end of the new post at a 45-degree angle, so water will run off it after installation.
Place the sister post in the hole, with its longest side facing the old post.
Use a level to make sure the original post is plumb.
Mix and pour enough concrete to fill the hole to a few inches above ground level. With a trowel, smooth the concrete so that it slopes slightly down away from the post.
Tips & Warnings
- Keep soil from building up around the bottom of pickets (a regular raking will do it), and they’ll be much less likely to have rot and water damage.
- Looking for some wood in just the right thickness to make new pickets? Pry a few boards off an old wooden pallet with a hammer and pry bar.
- Any damage to wood in a post that is well above ground might be the work of termites or carpenter ants; in that case you probably should replace the entire post.
- Older fences may be covered with some layers of lead paint, which was in common use until the mid- 1970s. If your fence dates from before then, and it has a lot of old, peeling paint, check with a professional before doing any significant paint removal or sanding.
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