How to repair a wooden fence
Expert help on removing and reinforcing broken fencing
Wooden fence panels and posts can be prone to storm damage, rot or attack by insects. And when they do need repairing, it's essential to treat them as soon as possible to prevent the rest of the fence being impacted.
That's where we can help. Read on for our handy tips on how to:
- remove a wooden fence panel or post
- reinforce a rotten fence post with a concrete spur
- fix a broken arris rail
Once you've removed the damaged parts, find out how to erect new fencing with our handy guide to putting up a panel fence.
Our great video guide below is the perfect place to start.
We recommend undertaking any fencing project with the help and assistance of a friend.
- Always wear protective safety gear when necessary.
- If using concrete, always wash your hands after use as wet cement can cause burns.
- Don’t allow concrete to dry on your tools - clean it off with a stiff brush.
If a wooden fence panel or post is rotten or badly damaged, it may need replacing altogether. Panels come in standard sizes so it's simple to find a replacement.
You might need
The below list includes everything necessary for the removal of wooden fence panels and posts. It doesn't include anything needed to put up a new fence panel or post. For these shopping lists, visit our article How to put up a panel fence.
Use a crowbar to lever back the side frame of the fence panel from the post. Do so until the nails that join the two are exposed and accessible.
Saw through the old nails with a hacksaw. Hammer in any protruding nails or pull them out with combination pliers or a claw hammer.
Repeat at the opposite end of the fence panel and remove the fence panel.
To remove a wooden fence post, detach the fence panels on either side as Steps 1 and 2 above.
Use a shovel to dig out the base of the fence post and remove any concrete.
If this proves difficult, cut a notch in the old post with a panel saw about 20 centimetres (cm) up the length of the post (as shown). Carefully lift out the old post by levering a long demolition bar on a small pile of breeze blocks. If removing any further concrete surrounding the damaged post is difficult, you might need to break it up. We recommend using an electrical breaker.
Check that the replacement post is the same size as the original and place it in the hole.
For more help on securing the new fence post, visit our article 'How to put up a panel fence'. Start at Step 3 of the section 'How to mark out and dig the fence post holes'.
The part of a wooden fence post most likely to rot is the section buried underground. If not reinforced in time, it will eventually collapse and pull down the fence. If the fence post is becoming loose and the fence is moving, a concrete repair spur can be used to support the wooden post.
If most of the post underground is rotten or the post has snapped, you will need to replace the post entirely (see above for help on this).
You might need
- Wood preservative
- Concrete spur
- Coach bolts (also known as carriage or cup square bolts)
- Pre-mixed concrete
Support the fence with lengths of timber on either side whilst you make the post repair.
Use a shovel to dig a hole around the base of the fence post on the side where the concrete repair spur will go. Dig the hole to a depth of approximately 45 to 60cm deep (the deeper the better).
Saw off the rotten part of the post with a panel saw and coat the sound wood with a wood preservative.
Place a concrete spur post in the hole against the remains of the post.
Brace the wooden post with wooden props made from lengths of timber.
To create these props, cut two lengths of 19 x 38millimetre (mm) timber (or similar) and nail together into either an 'L' or 'T' shape. Spike the prop at one end with a panel saw - this helps when driving it into the ground. Repeat as necessary.
Brace the post by temporarily screwing it to the props which are driven into the ground with a club hammer. Use a spirit level to check that the fence post is perfectly vertical.
Insert the coach bolts through the holes in the concrete spur and tap them with a hammer to mark the fence post.
Remove the spur and use a power drill to drill holes through the post at the marked spots, being careful to keep the drill level when in use.
Replace the spur and push the coach bolts through the spur and post so that the tails appear on the post side.
Attach the nuts and secure with a spanner.
Mix the concrete and fill the post hole as per the manufacturer's instructions, this is usually to just above ground level.
Use a trowel to smooth the concrete surface downwards so that rainwater will drain away from the wooden post.
Leave the props in place while the concrete sets, and take down when the concrete has hardened off.
An arris rail is the horizontal piece of timber on the back of fencing. It's most often damaged or broken during high winds or storms, and if left unfixed could potentially pull down the rest of the fence.
If broken, an arris rail can be fixed with an arris rail bracket, a length of galvanised steel specially shaped to fit the rail and ready-drilled with holes through which you secure it with decking screws.
There are two areas where the arris rail can break - close to the post or in the centre. We're going to show you how to fix a broken rail near a post using a flanged bracket (one with ridges). Alternatively, if your arris rail is broken in the centre, use a non-flanged bracket.
You might need
Support the wooden fence and broken arris rail - an extra pair of hands is extremely helpful here.
Place the arris rail bracket into position, making sure the fence it is level with a spirit level.
Secure the bracket by screwing decking screws into position with a drill driver - no pilot holes are necessary if using decking screws.
If using a flanged bracket for a stronger repair near to the post, fix the bracket to the post too.