Fence Repair

Good fences make good neighbors so you’ll want to keep your fence in good condition. This Fix-It Guide on fence repair tells how a fence works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a fence problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to replace a wooden fence post, how to straighten a leaning fence post or sagging gate, how to reinforce a sagging fence or gate frame, and how to mend a chain-link fence. For concrete fence repair, see the concrete repair Fix-It Guide.

How Does a Fence Work?

Fence Repair

Good neighbor (top left), alternate panel (top right), solid panel (bottom left), and louvered (bottom right) are popular types of wood privacy fencing.

A fence is a property enclosure made of pickets, boards, rails, chain-link fabric, or other materials. Wood is the most popular fencing material and one that takes on many forms, including privacy, rail, and picket. Wood is also the easiest fencing material to work with. See the Concrete Repair Fix-It Guide for repairs to concrete fences and walls. Chain-link fencing, if installed correctly, is virtually maintenance free.

What Can Go Wrong with a Fence?

Being outdoors all the time, fences take all the abuse that the elements can deliver. Posts come loose and wobble. Rails and boards deteriorate. Gates sag.

How Can I Identify a Fence Problem?

  • If a post wobbles, you can reinforce it (see below).
  • If a post leans, you can straighten it with a turnbuckle (see below).
  • If a gate or fence sags, you can reinforce it (see below).
  • If individual pickets, boards, or chain links deteriorate, you can carefully remove them from the fence and replace them with duplicates.

Fix-It Tip

A wooden fence will last longer if you keep dirt away from fence boards. Also paint or finish the wood to protect it from the elements.

What Do I Need for Fence Repair?

Replacement parts are available from local home improvement outlets. The tools you will need to fix a fence include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Garden trowel
  • Shovel
  • Sledgehammer
  • Handsaw
  • Wrenches
  • Concrete
  • Wheel barrow
  • Eye screws
  • Turnbuckle

What Are the Steps to Fence Repair?

Replace a wooden fence post:

  1. Check for wooden post rot by removing dirt around the bottom with a trowel and using an old screwdriver to probe the wood. Replace if the wood is soft.
  2. Brace the post to keep it in position while you remove the rotten post.
  3. Disconnect the rails and siding from the post.
  4. Dig out the old post and any concrete holding it in place.
  5. Prepare the post hole for the new post by lining it with gravel and, as needed, preparing concrete.
  6. Install the replacement post, using a level to make sure the post is plumb on two adjoining sides. Fill the post hole with gravel or cement as needed.
  7. Once the post is firm (concrete is dry), attach the rails and siding to the new post.

Straighten a leaning fence post or sagging gate:

  1. Install an eye screw at the highest point on the leaning post or the gate frame.
  2. Install another eye screw diagonally from the first.
  3. Install a turnbuckle between the two eyes and tighten it until the post is plumb or the gate frame is square.

Reinforce a sagging fence or gate frame:

  1. Identify the best location for installing a metal support, typically on corners.
  2. Select a galvanized metal support bracket for installation on the fence or gate frame. Many sizes and shapes are available at hardware stores.
  3. Brace the fence or gate in the position you want it to stay, then install the metal support using screws or nails.

Mend a chain-link fence:

  1. Identify the area that needs to be replaced.
  2. Stretch a rope from one side of the damaged area to the other and pull it taut to relieve pressure on the fabric.
  3. Undo the fabric twist at the top of either side of the damaged fabric.
  4. Remove the damaged chain-link fabric.
  5. Install replacement fabric of the same size and width.
  6. Use pliers to tighten the twists at the top of the fabric.
  7. Carefully remove pressure on the fabric.

Fix-It Tip

Chain-link fences are made of galvanized metal fabric of various sizes. Make sure you get the right size fabric to mend your fence.