A Facelift for the Fence

On February 2, Sir Walter Wally predicted an early Spring in Raleigh. Sir is ‘da man! Even though his shirt-tail relative, Punxsutawney Phil, is the bigger celebrity and predicted six more weeks of winter, PP is 500 miles away and clearly out of touch with our weather here in the South. Sorry Big P, I’m sticking with the Sir.

With temps ranging from 50s to 70s over the next week…meaning Sir Walter Wally’s prediction is looking spot-on…is your fence ready for Spring? Not in the budget? Pfft! Here are a couple of ideas to freshen your fence without breaking the bank.

When I moved into the cottage last year, this is what the fence looked like.

Weathered, but salvageable
A closer look shows the real situation

The fence didn’t look too bad at first, just bare wood in need of some kind of treatment, I thought. When I stripped away the ivy that had overtaken much of the yard, fence included, I saw this. Ivy can damage wood like nobody’s business. The roots penetrate small cracks in the grain, providing prime condition for rot. Also, ivy can be home to insects that enjoy the taste of your fence as much as you enjoy its fence-ness.

With the long list of things that required me to throw money at my new home–seriously, the first six months felt like I took all of my cash and tossed it to the wind–replacing the fence was not a popular proposition.

So here’s what I did instead, to tide me over until replacing the fence is more financially palatable: I had the rotted, dog-ear tops sawed off, replaced a few boards, and then stained the entire thing. Voila!

Rotted tops cut off and a few of the worst boards replaced
After staining with Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain
Tops cut, pre-stain
Tops cut, stained

I agonized over the color of the stain, and while it looks a thousand percent better, it’s not the color I thought it was based on the minuscule sample board at the store. Sound familiar? I’ve painted my bedroom three times because of my inability to accurately see color while in the store, and I’m about to search out a support group for this affliction. However, even though the stain is more orange than I planned, I’m pleased as tangerine punch with the fence!

This fence facelift saved me some cash, as it was less costly than replacing the entire thing. I removed the ivy, but hired someone to cut the dog-ear tops off and to do the staining. Had I not been overwhelmed with a million and one indoor projects, I would have tried this myself. But, for my own well-being and sanity, it just wasn’t possible to work the fence into my home improvement schedule, so I saved a little instead of saving a lot. In hindsight, renting a sprayer and staining the fence DIY-style might have been a quicker little ditty than I thought. Next time, when I’m not also painting three rooms inside, I’ll give it a whirl. I’m sure you can totally do this!

The moral of the story is that when you have a seemingly costly project, sometimes a little creativity can go a long way. Think outside the box, or at least outside the fence.