It’s no secret that rot is harmful to wood. If rot attacks a wooden fence, it can be detrimental to a fence’s structural integrity. It can make the wood feel spongy until eventually the microbial infestation eats away at it dramatically. Fences with rot also don’t do well in the visual appeal department. Rot can crack wood and leave white streaks or it can form black patches. Either way, fence rot is not the ticket to winning any prizes for most beautiful fence.
What Is Rot?
A rather broad term, rot is the condition of decay caused by microbial life, usually bacteria and fungi. The specific kind of rot in question is determined by what material experiences decay and which microbes are affecting the change. The two general types that fence owners should be most wary of are the general two: wet and dry rot.
Wet vs. Dry Rot
Wet rot results from moisture continuously or regularly coming into contact with wood. The more common between the two types, wet rot is more likely to make a fence feel soft to the touch and present patches of black fungus. The fungal growth may also give off a damp or musty smell. If you want to prevent fence rot of this kind, keep a wary eye out at the base of the fence. The bottom of planks, where they contact the earth, are more likely to sit in moisture and foster wet rot.
Dry rot produces the exact opposite problem. The wood dries out too much due to low-moisture conditions and too much sun. The natural oils in the wood can also be stripped away. Cracks in the wood (usually along the grain) may fill with white branching fungal mycelium. These may also look yellow in the light. Wood exposed to dry rot may also have a smell and, if the problem is left to itself, may crumble when touched.
Before You Install
Pick Your Wood Carefully
If you want to avoid fence rot, you should start before the fence is even laid. As you plan your new fence, consider woods that are more resistant to rot. These include cedar, juniper, redwood, and cypress. Tamarack, pine, and Douglas fir are not as well-wearing and should be avoided.
Include a Buffer
A gravel board is a board made of concrete or wood that is installed underneath the fence panels to sit on the ground. Including a gravel board during the installation adds a concrete buffer between your fence and the moisture in the soil that leads to fence rot.
Pressure treating injects preservatives and fire retardants deeply into the wood and is the most effective preventative against fence rot. The chemical treatment gives wood innate protection against insects and microbes that want to make your fence their favorite entrée.
Preserved for Posterity
In addition to pressure treating the wood, which is internal, it is important to add wood preservative to your fence, which serves as a layer of protection around the planks. The treatment works like wax on a car to seal out water and hungry fungi and bacteria. It is an important part of protecting your fence from the elements.
Leave It to the Professionals
Professional fence installation makes sure the wood of your fence is ready and resistant to environmental conditions like fence rot. A company like Bronco Fence can handle the pressure treatment of the wood and ensure that the installation is handled properly to avoid the problems that come with planks that are not properly aligned with each other and the ground.
If stain seeps into the grain of your wood, it can act like a hardier wood preservative, sealing out moisture. Most contractors recommend staining at least once a year depending on the weather and humidity conditions of your area. If you want to check that your stain is still efficacious, spritz it with a little bit of water. If it beads on the fence’s surface, the stain is still good, but if the wood absorbs the water, it’s time to restrain.
Place with Purpose
The way you arrange other elements of your property has a big impact on how at-risk your fence is for rot damage. Direct sprinklers away from hitting the fence so it isn’t bombarded with damaging moisture. For the same reason, it’s better if bushes and other foliage don’t impact the wood. Greenery retains moisture which transfers to the wood, expediting fence rot. The weight of leaves and roots also keeps moisture trapped in the perfect position to wreak havoc.
Address fence rot quickly as it arises. The sooner you attend to the problem, the less likely repairs will be extensive and expensive. If you are looking to install a fence properly so it lasts the test of time, or if you need more routine fence care, give Bronco Fence a call today.