Wood fences can be vulnerable to the elements if left unsealed or not properly maintained. However, the definition of proper maintenance can shift as the months roll by. If you want to keep your fence in the best possible shape throughout winter, it's important to know how to care for it in unique conditions.

Preventing Snow Damage

As a wood fence owner, you know how important it is to protect outdoor wood from the elements, especially water. During the winter, snow sitting on top of your fence can make it far easier for water to seep in as it slowly melts and cause damage if the wood is not properly protected.

If your fence is made of pressure-treated wood, it won't need added sealant. However, fences made of natural wood or untreated press-wood will require sealing. Painting can add another layer of protection if you want to be extra careful, but it will also change the look of the wood. A good compromise for fence owners who want to retain a more natural appearance is to use a stain instead, which still has protective properties, but allows the grain to show through.

If your fence is unprotected, don't just run out to seal and paint it right away. Freezing temperatures can cause both sealant and paint to thicken or otherwise change their consistency and properties. Your fence may not be protected if you apply these products in freezing temperatures, so be sure to wait for a warmer day to apply them if possible.

Cleaning Fences During Winter

Cleaning your fence during the summer might involve spraying down the wood with water in order to rinse off any dirt or other debris that might be stuck to it. However, winter cleaning should involve the least amount of water possible due to the risk of it freezing and damaging your fence. Instead, use a dry or slightly damp cloth to remove dirt. Wet-washing may be undertaken only on particular warm days if absolutely necessary. You should also try to keep any sprinklers aimed away from the fence in winter. 

If snow has gathered on top of your wooden fence, remove it with a leaf blower or brush in order to prevent long-term water damage. Snow should also be blown away from the base of the fence posts, since snow that melts there may encourage rot in the root of the post.

Another sneaky source of damage are plants that can take root in your fence or hang over it. Though moss and lichens can have a rustic appeal, they also increase the weight your fence must bear. Plus, their tiny roots can rupture the seal on your wood, encouraging warping and rot over time.

A good wood fence should last 10 to 15 years if you keep it properly maintained, but maintenance can vary throughout the year. As long as you know what to do during each season, you may be able to keep your fence going strong for years to come. For more information on maintaining your fence throughout the year, you can contact a reputable fence company like Lindsey Fence Co.

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