While it’s true that a vinyl fence is low-maintenance, it’s still not a good idea to just let it sit outside your home without some TLC. The worst that could happen is that it will lose its vibrance sooner, which is one of the reasons homeowners install it in the first place. But how do you maintain a vinyl fence so it doesn’t become dingy and rundown?
Vinyl fence maintenance does not require as much effort as caring for wooden fences. You’ll still have to maintain it, but you don’t need to use special equipment or have professional skills. Plus, you won’t have to perform this type of work as often.
If there is no sanding, re-painting, or re-staining involved, what else would you need to do to maintain your vinyl fence? Here’s a simple process, complete with the materials you will need.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Regular Cleaning
- Mildew Removal
- Annual Inspection
- Situational Checks
- Clearing Hazards
- Prompt Repairs
What You Need To Maintain a Vinyl Fence
Don’t run to the hardware store to buy these items right away. You probably already have them lying around somewhere in your garage, kitchen, or tool shed.
- Non-abrasive household detergent
- Stiff bristle brush
- Stiff cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Garden hose
- PVC fence glue
6 Tips on Maintaining a Vinyl Fence
A high-quality vinyl fence is usually more expensive than wood or steel, but it’s totally worth it in the long run. Of course, you would want to get the most out of your investment. So doing a few maintenance tasks here and there is not that bad – especially since they’re not too hard to do.
1. Regular Cleaning
Washing your fence regularly is ideal. But if you can’t dedicate your time to regular cleaning, then do it after an extreme weather condition, such as a storm. Loose materials usually get stuck on fences during this time. Unlike wood fences, vinyl is not a dirt magnet. Still, you can’t expect your vinyl fence to be self-cleaning. And the rain can’t wash all those discolorations, tough stains, grime, and grease off your fence.
Cleaning your fence is not really hard. Try mixing a non-abrasive household detergent with water. Then soak a soft cloth or sponge in the solution and use it to gently remove the dirt and grime. Finally, use a garden hose to rinse the fence with water.
Another DIY mixture you can use for removing stubborn stains is mild laundry detergent and hot water. Remember to wear rubber gloves while working with this solution, especially if your hands are quite sensitive.
2. Mildew Removal
A vinyl fence can only take so much beating, especially in areas where it’s constantly humid and moist. Don’t be surprised if you see patches of fungi on your fence after a damp winter morning. Still, vinyl fences will not easily succumb to mold and mildew compared to other fence types.
But if your fence ends up having these on the surface, it’s important to get rid of them fast. While PVC does not get infested by insects naturally, the mold and mildew on its surface can turn into a hotbed for bugs.
Fortunately, you can easily remove this surface buildup from your vinyl fence. Wear rubber gloves and start wiping the mildew away with a stiff cloth. For the cleaning solution, you can use bleach or vinegar mixed with water. Then, hose the fence down or use a power washer to rinse it.
3. Annual Inspection
Once a year, take some time to walk along your fence and do more than a visual inspection. To avoid going back and forth, you should bring your toolkit containing the following:
- a screwdriver
- replacement screws
- spare post caps
As you get to the fence posts, try to shake them a little to determine if they’re still stable. If there’s a considerable give, check the screws and tighten or replace them. Be sure to check the panel joints as well.
The best time of the year to do this inspection is before winter. You need to address any issues before the cold months so your fence can endure the moisture and high winds. The sooner you repair the damages, the less likely they will worsen.
4. Situational Checks
While an annual inspection is acceptable, you may need to check your fence more often if you live in an area with extreme seasonal changes. Even if you properly install your new fence, it may still be subject to damage if the issue lies with the ground holding the posts. The changing seasons can cause the soil to expand and contract, loosening its hold on the fence posts.
Some of the issues you may encounter include:
- Wobbly fence caps
- Posts not firmly fixed in place
For fence post caps, you can simply secure them back in place with PVC fence glue. But if you find a loosened fence post, you should adjust the soil around it using a shovel. If that’s not enough to make it stable again, you might need to backfill.
5. Clearing Hazards
There are some natural hazards that could impact your fence:
Trees: There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to cut any overhanging branches or remove a tree near your fence. During a storm or a strong gust of wind, these branches may snap and damage your fence. Even without these natural forces, the constant shade from a tree can promote mold growth – even on a high-quality PVC fence. While you can always follow the mildew removal steps mentioned above, it’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Vines: Thinking of growing vines up your fence instead? Yes, it can be a beautiful addition to your landscape. However, it can be damaging in a lot of ways. While they may not be as heavy as tree branches, vines can still weigh down your fence. They can grow between the slats and cause warping. Plus, the moisture that gets trapped between the plant and fence can be inviting to mold, algae, and pest infestations.
Weeds: It’s the same with grass and weeds – they can both be detrimental to your fence and posts if you let them grow out of control. But you can’t just carelessly use a weed eater or mow your lawn too close to your vinyl fence. Avoid damaging your fence further by hiring a lawn care company to help maintain your lawn.
6. Prompt Repairs
Regardless of the material used for your fence panels, it’s always best to repair damages immediately. No matter how strong a vinyl fence is, there’s always a possibility that it can be damaged. Even if you keep the area clear of overhanging branches, a heavy object may still hit your fence.
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to replace a few broken components or remove an entire section. If you have to do the former, remember to order a replacement part that closely resembles the broken fence panels or screws. If you’re not confident with DIY projects, hire a fencing professional.
FAQ About How to Maintain a Vinyl Fence
In general, you can keep your vinyl fence looking good if you power wash it at least once a year. But it would be best if you could do it once every season. That way, your fence will be free of stubborn stains, mildew, and grime. At the same time, you’ll be able to spot early on if you need to fix a part of your fence.
A vinyl fence can last longer than other types – around 30 years. If you maintain it properly, it can add a decade to its already long lifespan. Aside from adding more years to the fence, regular maintenance can ensure that your fence always looks brand new.
If you’re residing in a region where mold and mildew are prevalent, you will need to clean your fence with soapy water every week. Washing your fence with an effective cleaning solution every few weeks can help even further. You can try a combination of vinegar and hot water. Or, you can use a mold prevention coating such as Moldex or Mold Armor.
Keep Your Vinyl Fence in Top Condition for a Long Time
A run-down vinyl fence is not only unsightly but also can compromise your home’s security. You would be beckoning would-be intruders to enter your home as they will find rickety-looking fences less formidable.
And while this fencing material is known to be virtually maintenance-free, it doesn’t mean it can clean itself. Follow the simple steps above if you want a clean vinyl fence that’s not only durable but looks brand new all the time.
Connect with a local fence contractor in your area if you need help with vinyl fence maintenance.
Main photo credit: Pixabay