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Old 02-20-2011, 06:16 PM   #1
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Wood fence is warping


Hi all,

We bought a house a year ago in Atlanta, came with a new fence in the backyard. It's a standard 6' privacy fence. We noticed that not too long after (probably by late summer), we could see the fence pickets warping. A few pickets have already fallen out and I've just pushed them back up and in.

There are 2 rails, one about 1' from the ground and the other 2' from the top, with about 3' between the rails. The pickets are nailed to the rails. I'm pretty sure that the problem is insufficient # of rails. There probably should have been 1 more in the center and the top rail should have been closer to the top.

There are 2 nails to attach each picket to each rail, 4 per picket. They are nailed towards the outside edges, and as a result, some of the pickets are splitting.

I also think that deck screws would probably have been the way to go instead of nails, correct?

My question is this- how much longer could I expect the fence to stay up? Is there something I can do to make it last longer? The rails and posts are all on the outside, so on 2 sides they are facing the neighbors property and on the far side is some uncleared land with bushes/trees and wild growth for about 25' or so till you get to the houses on the next street. Getting access to the rail/post sides will not be easy, that's for sure. One of my neighbors has a horribly overgrown completely untended backyard, and there is a ~ 4.5' tall chain link fence all the way around our fence, which was there I assume before the wood fence was put up.

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Old 02-20-2011, 10:09 PM   #2
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Wood fence is warping


You are right about the rails, there is no way to have 2' of board above the top rail and not have them warp like crazy. A decorative cap consisting of a 2 x 4 on edge along the top of the boards, capped with another on the flat, to form a tee or modified ell would help.
As for the boards falling off; either they are nailed with nails that are too short, nailed with non galvinized nails that have rusted off, or nailed with nails that were not rated for pt, if the boards are pt, and they have corroded away already.
Nails are fine for the boards and not quite as visually obtrusive as the larger screw heads.

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Last edited by troubleseeker; 02-20-2011 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:27 AM   #3
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Wood fence is warping


i'd spray with Thompson's Waterseal using a pump sprayer.

before spraying, maybe take a fence picket into a local fence supply company and show them the type of wood, spacing of the rails and types of nails.
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