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Old 03-08-2009, 12:35 PM   #1
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DIY Replacement of a Wood Fence


I recently retired from the military. My home in San Antonio, Texas is currently vacant. It has been a rental property for the past 4.5 years and has lost money throughout. It desperately needs a new fence and due to my now diminished income, believe that I will have to build it myself, with the help of my 21 year old son and 19 year old daughter. The current wood fence is falling down.

I have several concerns. The ground is limestone. Do I attempt to jack hammer new fence post holes? Do I use the current fence posts, which are in relatively good shape, when compared to the crumbling wood slats and rails? Do I attempt to remove the current fence posts and reuse the holes?

Termites are a huge problem. The fences throughout the city are primarily wood, which leads me to believe that they are perhaps the "BEST" choice for the area. However, the fences for the most part look like they are on their last legs. Thus, I think that there must be a better option. I have been considering vinyl fencing, which is more expensive. However, I have seen how the sun and heat cause outdoor vinyl furniture and toys to become severely porous, faded and brittle. So I ask you all to please give me your thoughts on what I should select.

Cost is a factor, as I have just retired, but I would rather spend a bit more building the fence, if I could expect it to require less maintenance and to last longer.

I also would welcome your thoughts on the most economically sound sources for the materials that I eventually select.

I must begin to build the fence in the next few weeks as the old fence is falling down, is causing a safety hazard and is quickly becoming an eyesore.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 03-08-2009, 03:27 PM   #2
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DIY Replacement of a Wood Fence


Certainly not my area of expertise, but I have done some fence work in the past. (And I'm sure there will be many more responses.) "Relatively good shape" is a "relative" term. I would not hang new slats on "relatively good posts". Pull the old posts and re-use the holes seems logical to me. Not familiar with limestone as far as "digging" through. Here in my area of GA we get a lot of "shale" which I would think may be similar to limestone, not really solid but can be a foot or more thick (and since I'm close to Stone Mountain, granite may come into play (but "blasting is not allowed). IF you go with new holes......I have found what I call "digging bar" (available at HD or Lowes), to be a great tool (though best used by someone of your son's age and hopeful stamina). It is merely a 1-1/4" x 4' or 5' steel bar with (depending on the particular brand) a pointed end and likely a "chisel" end. Use your post hole digger to get as far as you can. When you get to the hard spot, break it up with the bar and clean out with the post hole digger. I have broken some pretty solid rocks this way also. Continue until you get to the desired depth. (Tell your son it's a great "upper body/cardio workout".) I guess a jack hammer could be used, but I don't know if it would be necessary or worth the rental expense.
Wood (pressure treated) would certainly be the less expensive route initially. More maintenance down the line..... I have only installed vinyl on a couple of commercial projects and they are strictly "decorative", don't know how they would stand up to "abuse" (kids/dogs banging into it, etc.) The ones I've put in (retirement homes) seem to be holding up well after 4-5 yrs. with no "distortion/fading" problems.
Best of luck and thanks for your service to our country!

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Old 03-08-2009, 08:21 PM   #3
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DIY Replacement of a Wood Fence


How long are you going to keep the property? This would determine how much effort and money you probably want to expend.

If the current posts are 4x4 wood and not set in concrete - pull them out - winch, come-a-long, or similar. Replace with a 1.5" - 2" metal post and pour in half bag of fast set concrete. Hang wood fencing on the new metal posts.

Last edited by vsheetz; 03-08-2009 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 03-11-2009, 01:33 PM   #4
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DIY Replacement of a Wood Fence


First, thank you for your responses. Vsheetz makes a valid point that more details would be very helpful. So here goes. I plan to keep the house at least until the economy and house prices recover. I would very much like to avoid, and quite frankly must avoid a financial loss on the house beyond the losses we have incurred as result of damage and lost rental income. So I expect we will have the house for the next 5 to 10 years. I have had two people look at the fence. Both say that the posts are set in concrete and, all but one of the posts (which is leaning) are in good shape. If they were to replace the fence, they would use the existing posts. I am considering a number of different fencing materials. If I were to use wood, I think that the heat and sun here would warrant the use of cedar. I think I would have to stain or treat the fence now and every year or so from here on out....to keep it from looking and performing as poorly as those around my neighborhood. Having said that, I am still toying with the thought of vinyl. I have heard that in some cases the warranties provide for fence replacement if the fence fails within the warranty period. Do any of you have any knowledge of fence warranties????? Some have said that vinyl will fail under the intensity of the heat and sun found in San Antonio, TX. What are your thoughts and recommendations. I am thinking of constructing a "curb" or base of cement with "weep holes" the entire length of the fencing to deter damage from weed-wackers, mowers, etc. and to deter termite damage and also water wicking from the soil. What are your thoughts on this?????? I have had folks advise that a cedar fence should last as long as a vinyl fence. What are your thoughts? I have even considered a pre-cast cement system. I have heard that they are cost prohibitive, but my neighbor's fence/wall looks as great as it did five years ago, when it was installed. What are your thoughts???? Can these pre-cast cement systems be done by the homeowner on their own???

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and advice! Thank you for your replys, in advance!

Last edited by rcraftlady; 03-11-2009 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 03-11-2009, 06:03 PM   #5
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DIY Replacement of a Wood Fence


5-10 years retention justifies the expence of time and money to do a good job. While usable now, the 5-10 year timeframe will probably bring the existing wood posts to the end of their life and require replacement at the time of sale.

I have built wood fences with a concrete curb along the bottom when I lived in New Orleans as defense against water damage - the prime killer of all things constructed there... Be sure and crown the top so water does not sit on the concrete curb.

I have no experience with vinyl fencing - but if building a fence today would investigate it. However, it is usually sectional fencing, no? I have not had good experiences with sectional fencing - the placement of the posts, variences in ground slope, etc. make it difficult to use.

For longevity and privacy - metal posts in concrete and cedar wood fencing with stainless screws is my preferred fence. Treat it with Thompson's WaterSeal every year or two. If privacy is not needed, then a good chain link fence lasts longest with minimal mainteance.
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