How To Reinforce A Fence Panel: 6 Simple Steps

You can find fencing in rural, suburban, and urban yards. Fences keep people and deer off your property, serve as garden barriers, and keep pets contained. They also can provide an eye-pleasing barrier between your property and unsightly property, such as a neighbor’s pile of old tires or a parking lot. 

Fences come in a variety of materials and styles such as wooden, vinyl, or metal. Weather such as rain and wind as well as aging materials can damage any kind of fence and the post foundations. As a result, this may cause panels to lean. 

How To Reinforce A Fence Panel

You can reinforce a fence panel with some physical strength and the right tools by following the steps in this article. If your fence is wobbly or leaning, or the distance between two posts is too wide, you can reinforce your fence and stabilize it for longevity.

Depending upon the work you need to do, you may not need all of these items. However, it is best to have them on hand just in case.

What You’ll Need

  • Long lumber or poles to support the fence while working
  • Retractable tape measure
  • Stakes
  • Sledgehammer
  • Level
  • Shovel – consider using a sharpshooter style
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Drainage gravel
  • Concrete mix – including a water source/hose, bucket for mixing and pouring, concrete tools
  • Safety gear – safety goggles, gloves, mask
  • Materials and tools for replacement and repair of any panels such as wood, metal posts, nails, concrete, screws, nails, drill, and so on.

1. Evaluate the fence areas that need reinforcement

If you just try to prop up a fence panel instead of reinforcing it, it won’t last long, especially as rain or wind comes in. Cheap fence panels may be more prone to falling or showing signs of wear and tear. Fences need support from the base of the post and up.

It is important to evaluate and prepare the area that you intend to work on. Taking observations first will save you time later on, and ensure that you have a safe work area.

Measure the height of your panels. If you have 4-ft. tall wood fence panels or six-foot panels, you should know what you need if you need to replace a post. You will need to insert any posts ⅓ of it into the ground. So, a 6-foot fence panel would need its post to be a minimum of 2-feet into the ground. Fences even have their own laws and regulations, so it is important to maintain the allowed height.

Walk along the fence on both sides and see which panels need work. Take note of the workspace and if you can use a ladder, remove any hazards that hang over the fence or that are on the ground. Use a wheelbarrow to collect and remove debris.

If trees have caused damage, you may need professional removal of the trees or the branches first.

2. Place long supports against the fence panel

Use lumber or poles to temporarily hold and stabilize the fence panel in place. Set the supports at an angle, pushing against the fence panel. Drive stakes into the ground where the posts touch the ground to prevent them from moving or slipping. It would be best to do this on both sides and then adjust the supports as you dig if necessary.

You may wish to have someone nearby helping you to get these supports in place and also to help keep an eye on things in case the panel decides to topple. These supports will work well with slats, wooden fences, and vinyl fences.  

Vinyl could be a little more slippery, so be careful when leaning the support against it. Try to find an area that has an edge or lip to help hold it in place.

3. Dig around the fence posts

Dig down around the fence posts on both sides of the fence panel with your shovel. Do this in small increments until you expose the cement holding the post in place all the way around. You will need enough space to pour in gravel and concrete later on.

The supports you set against the panel may shift as you loosen the ground, so move cautiously and adjust them to brace and prevent the panel from falling over.

As a special note, if a wooden post is rotten, you will need to replace it. This means you will need to detach it from the panels and completely remove it from the ground, concrete and all. 

If you cannot remove the concrete, you can dig a new hole post. However, it will need adjustment to accommodate the panels, and your posts may not be equidistant.  

If your fence is leaning because it is too wide, then you will need to create a new hole for a new post.

Another option could be to use a mender splint that reinforces 4×4 posts by staking around them at the base of the post. 

4. Level and plumb the fence

Plumbing a fence is not about pipes! To plumb a fence means that it is perfectly vertical. Use the level to move the panel into place, adjusting the temporary supports to keep it in a vertical position. Again, someone will likely need to help you do this efficiently.

If anything needs drilling or nailed into place you can do this with a person helping and supporting you to make sure you stay safe.

Once the panel is in perfect alignment, you can reinforce it with the temporary support posts. 

5. Fill in the holes with gravel and concrete

Concrete work is hard and heavy labor. Consider if you can do this step on your own or if you need neighborly or professional help.

Tamp down the soil at the bottom of the holes. Pour in enough gravel to fill about ⅓ of each hole. Tamp the gravel down.  

According to your concrete’s instructions, mix and pour it into the holes on top of the gravel. While the concrete is still wet, make sure your panel has remained plumb and level. If you adjust the panel, add in concrete as needed to ensure that it is stable and even with no gaps.

Leave the temporary supports in place until the concrete is completely dry.

6. Make any minor repairs and finish up

If the panel needs any paint touch-ups or staining, or minor repairs you can do this once the concrete is dry. Cover the concrete with soil so that it cannot be seen. Remove the temporary posts, and hopefully, your fence looks like new!

Watch this video on YouTube to learn how to strengthen a fence panel to last for many years longer:

Other Fence Issues

Fences can also have other issues such as sagging rails and misaligned or damaged gates. It is also important to maintain your fence regularly.

Sagging Rails

The horizontal rails that support panels may also sag or deteriorate. Often rail ends will deteriorate first or the connections are loose. 

You can completely replace the horizontal support, use a metal post rail connector, tighten fasteners, or use a wood preservative to slow down wood rot. 

If the rail sags in the middle, you can wedge a brace between the top and bottom rails, if you choose not to replace it.

Misaligned Gate

Gates will sag as they age, the ground settles, or from weathering which results in a misaligned gate that won’t close. 

To figure out the cause, make observations about the gate and its hinges and connecting points, as well as the connecting posts. Unfortunately, a sagging gate can be the result of multiple issues at once. 

The gate may need a rod to pull it back up into alignment with posts, post replacements, or new hardware.

Poor Maintenance

Wooden fences in particular need upkeep and care to avoid major fix issues. 

You can protect a wooden surface with an application of water-repellent treatments every 2-3 years. 

Mold, mildew, and algae should be cleaned off using cleaners appropriate for use on the fence material. 

Structural issues should be fixed right away to avoid further strain on the rest of the fencing.

Key Takeaways

You can strengthen and reinforce a fence panel on your own by following the steps in this guide. Make careful observations about where your fence needs support, and then work to plumb and level it with reinforced and concreted posts. 

Maintain your fence and check it after strong weather events to ensure that it provides a strong barrier in your yard.

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