Southwest Florida is well-known for its humid climate as well as the effects that climate can have on wood. Faced with this type of climate, your wooden fence has to endure years of high humidity combined with unrelenting heat and torrential downpours. Under these conditions, problems like wood rot are likely to manifest at some point of your fence’s lifespan.
Wood rot isn’t something any homeowner can afford to ignore. Left to its own devices, rot can spread throughout your wooden fence and rob it of its structural rigidity. Rot can weaken entire sections of fence, making them more likely to fall apart at the slightest touch. Structural weaknesses caused by rot can spell disaster for your wooden fence’s longevity.
Without the right protection and proactive maintenance, you only have a matter of time before your wooden fence is plagued with rot. Take the following preventive steps to help minimize the devastating effects of wood rot and keep your fence in the best possible shape for years to come.
- Identify Signs of Wood Rot
Knowing how to spot the signs of wood rot is the first step of combatting the problem. Wood fence rot usually comes in two forms: wet rot and dry rot. Wet rot and dry rot may have different causes, but they’re both equally dangerous for your fence.
Wet rot is the most common type of rot wooden fences face. Constant exposure to moisture, whether this is through years of humid weather, constant contact with the damp ground, or even accidental watering with lawn sprinklers, can spark fungal growth within the wood. As a result, portions of your fence can turn soft and discolored as the fungus eats away at the wood.
In most cases, the rot usually takes place at the base of the fence where the posts are in constant contact with the ground. However, wet rot can take place anywhere you have minimal protection and sufficient exposure to moisture. In addition to a cracked surface that’s also soft to the touch, you can also identify wet rot through a strong, damp smell.
Wood naturally contains protective oils that help shield it against wood rot. Over time and with continuous exposure to high temperatures and direct sunlight, these oils can break down and disappear, effectively drying the wood out. Constant exposure to high winds can also strip a wooden fence of its natural oils, making it more susceptible to fungi that cause dry rot.
Once these protective oils are lost and decay sets in, the wood surface becomes brittle to the touch. If the wood is severely cracked and crumbles when you touch or handle the wood, then you’re likely dealing with dry rot. As with wet rot, you may also smell a faintly musty aroma as a part of the fence’s decay.
- Remove Rot as Soon as Possible
Once you’ve learned how to spot signs of rot, be on the lookout for those signs throughout your fencing. If you spot rot on any portion of your wooden fence, you’ll need to replace that section before the rot has a chance to spread any further. A complete replacement of the affected section is preferable to repair since a brand-new section offers the best structural soundness, along with a reduced likelihood of spreading rot.
- Keep Your Fence Clean
Another way of keeping wood rot at bay is by keeping your fence free of grime and debris. Damp leaves, grasses, and soils can allow moisture and fungi to penetrate the wood surface, setting the stage for rot later on. Cleaning your fence on a regular basis can help prevent rot from taking hold on your wooden fence. Regular cleanings also boost your home’s curb appeal, so you have no harm in investing some time in fence maintenance.
- Stain Wood for Added Protection
Stains do more than bring out the natural beauty of your wooden fence. Adding a protective finish over your wood also provides an effective barrier against moisture and debris. Most experts recommend staining your fence every two to three years to counter moisture intrusion and prevent rot.
- Consider Rot-Resistant Materials
Choosing the right lumber for your fence can go a long way towards preventing rot. Certain types of wood are simply less prone to rot than others, making them ideal fencing material. For instance, cedar is a popular choice for wood fences due to its natural beauty and its natural resistance against rot. Cypress, redwood, and other hardwoods are also hardy against wood rot.
If you install a new fence, pay close attention to the installation process. Some woods require different approaches to installation than others. For example, poor drainage and inadequate protection against moisture and insects can shorten your fence’s life.
If you want a long-lasting wood fence that’s able to resist rot, turn to the experts at Carter Fence Company Inc. Contact us today or fill out our online form to receive your estimate.