Deciding to replace your fence or simply repair it depends on many factors. Sometimes, all your fence needs is a quick fix, saving you time and money. But other times, repairing the fence could end up costing more than replacing it altogether.
Depending on the type of repair and your ability to fix it yourself, you may save money by repairing the damage. However, it’s better to replace your fence entirely if more than 20% of it needs repairs.
When to Repair
There are times when damage to a fence can be easily fixed. If that’s the case, there’s no need to spend a ton of money replacing the whole thing.
A wood fence needs the most maintenance out of any other fencing material. It may need your attention if you notice signs of discoloration, warping, or splintering. The following are easy, low-cost repairs you might even be able to do yourself:
- Patch small cracks and holes with putty or wood filler. It’s important to note wood filler will show forever unless you paint over it.
- Replace warped or damaged boards or rails. Sometimes, individual boards or rails can be changed without having to replace the entire thing. However, a new board will likely be a different color than the rest of the fence unless you paint it.
Vinyl is typically low-maintenance. That being said, it sometimes needs repairs. Vinyl is very susceptible to cracking. The only way to fix this is to replace the affected area. That could be a single picket or an entire section between posts.
Another low-maintenance material, aluminum fencing doesn’t need much repair. Occasionally, the soil may erode, causing the rails to loosen or an individual rail might need attention. Here are some quick fixes for aluminum fences:
- Backfill soil anywhere it has eroded. This will re-stabilize any loosened areas of the fence.
- Replace individual rail or section that’s damage. This is a bit more challenging than replacing part of a wood or vinyl fence. It requires the help of welder.
When to Replace
If the damage to the fence is too significant or the job is too difficult or expensive, then it’s best to replace the entire thing. The following are scenarios when replacing is better than repairing:
- If more than 20% of your fence needs to be repaired.
- If more than a few fence posts need to be replaced. Replacing posts is difficult. They’re usually mounted in cement and need to be dug out of the ground. This might be more work than you’re willing to do.
- If your fence has outlived its life expectancy. Fences should last 20-50 years. If it’s older than that, replace it. Sometimes, parts for older fences no longer exist because the manufacturer stopped making them. If that’s the case, it’s best to replace it with a fence that has available replacement parts.
Other Reasons to Replace
Sometimes our tastes change or we bought a house with a fence that is not to our liking. Changing a fence’s style warrants a complete replacement.
To add more privacy or height so your pet won’t escape, you’ll most likely need a totally new fence as well. The only potential way around this is to add high shrubbery, but that’s an expense in itself, especially to line the entire perimeter.
Repair Cost Breakdown
Weighing the cost of a repair and a replacement is important in determining which steps to take. It may very well be the deciding factor. Listed below are common fence repairs and their costs.
Homeowners typically pay between $299 and $878 to repair a wooden fence. Repairs can cost up to $1,770.
|Repair||Full Replacement||Post Replacement||Holes & Cracks||Weather Damage||Leaning/Sagging or Shifting Ground|
Homeowners typically pay between $260 and $820 to repair a vinyl fence. Repairs can cost up to $1,980.
|Repair||Full Replacement||Panel Replacement||Post Replacement||Picket Replacement||Top & Bottom Rails||DIY Hole Repair|
|Cost||$3,024-$12,000||$70-$170||$3-$12||$5 each||$20-$100 (per 8 ft)||$110-$160|
Homeowners typically pay between $251 and $814 to repair an aluminum, steel, or metal fence. Repairs can cost up to $1,850.
|Repair||Full Replacement||Welding||Post Repair||Cement Footing||Painting||Railing Repair|
|Cost||$2,209-$8,000||$100-$500||$100-$450||$40-$60/hour $5-$15/bag*||$3-$17/linear foot||$15-$70/linear foot|
*Cement costs between $5 and $15 for a 60-lb bag. Each post will need 1 or 2 bags. The cost for this repair depends on how many cement footings need fixing and how many bags are used.
As the comparison charts clearly show, some situations warrant a simple repair while others require a full replacement. It truly depends on the level of damage to your fence and whether or not you feel comfortable fixing it yourself.
But if more than 20% of your fence needs fixing, it’s most likely a wiser investment to replace it altogether.