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Ann
Fence: New boards over old??

Hello!
I need advice on my idea to fix up a fence. Is it a good idea or stupid?

Here goes:
We have an 8 foot privacy fence between us and the neighbors. The fence boards are pointy at the top. Many of the points have broken off just above the top horizontal rail. And a lot of the boards are rotting at the bottom where they touch the ground. The rails and posts appear to be in good shape. There is some deterioration on the top surface of the rails but if you stick an ice pick in they are quite hard after the first 1/8 inch The boards are a little soft on the outside surface but the wood in the middle is hard and good.

Another thing: Our neighbor's AC unit is rather loud.

One individual in this household believes we need an entirely new fence. I think we need new pickets, at the most. However I cannot find a source of identical pickets. Plus removing the old pickets would be difficult and I worry it could harm the rails if pried off over-enthusiastically.

So.... I am thinking of buying some dog-ear topped fence boards from the local HD and applying them over the surface of the existing boards. This would make the fence double-thinkness. I figure this would have the added bonus of mitigating noise from the neighbor's AC unit. I would cut off all the old pointy picket tops flush with the top rail first so it would look OK from the other side.

What do you think?
Thanks.

dj1
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

What do I think of your idea?

Three things:

1. It will look bad. Why do you want to install new, healthy and expensive boards over old, broken, rotted boards?

2. I doubt that your assessment of the fence framing - posts and horizontal rails - is accurate. If you start removing boards, you will discover how bad they are.

3. I also doubt that this framing will be able to support the additional weight of new boards.

Listen to that someone in your house, replace the whole darn thing.

About the a/c noise: ask your neighbor to install a short fence around it, with a service opening, to help lowering the noise, however, some noise will remain. New compressors are much quieter, more efficient and cost less to operate - I just installed 2 new units over the hot summer, and they are unbelievably quiet. If his compressor is old, maybe you can talk to him about replacing it...good luck with that.

dj1
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

Almost forgot:

If you share this fence with your neighbor and if it sits on the property line - maybe the two of you can share the cost of a new fence.

Some neighbors will go along, others will become hostile and stop talking to you...or say something like: "we don't have the money right now, but if you do it, we'll pay you half later", meaning, never.

Ann
Re: Fence: New boards over old??
dj1 wrote:

Almost forgot:

If you share this fence with your neighbor and if it sits on the property line - maybe the two of you can share the cost of a new fence.

Some neighbors will go along, others will become hostile and stop talking to you...or say something like: "we don't have the money right now, but if you do it, we'll pay you half later", meaning, never.

Thank you for your input, DJ1.

The neighbors already owe us $$$ for removal of a dangerous tree that was actually on their property but leaning towards ours. (The city arborist said it was an imminent hazard.) The risk of them never paying up was not as bad as the risk of having a giant oak tree fall on our house. So, that won't work, unfortunately.

As for the looks-- the good boards will be on our side of the fence. The neighbors (who won't pay for the tree work or a new fence) will be the ones looking at the ugly side. (Which they cleverly pressure-washed last week-- thereby breaking off more of the tops and blowing some holes in the bottom where it touches the ground.)

I do think the rails and posts are good. Nothing leans or sags. The weight of new boards is, however, something to think about. Thank you.

A. Spruce
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

Neighbors like that suck, that's for certain, and they are more common than not.

I agree with dj1's assessment, the posts and rails are probably a lot further gone than you think, where this will be born out is when you remove the existing pickets and can get full access to the posts at the ground and at the rail connection points.

Posts always fail at the ground because dirt gets scuffed up around the base and it holds water, thereby rotting the post off at the ground level. Rails generally fail at their connection points to the post, again, the joint holds moisture, encouraging rot, over time = failure. You will also find rot between the pickets and the rails, less of an issue, of course, but rot none-the-less.

Most divider fences are "good neighbor" fences, meaning fence panels alternate from side to side so that both neighbors have a decent looking fence. If you are the only one paying for the fence, then you have the right to face all the boards to your side, and leave them with the lesser quality back side with the framing.

I can tell you that you're looking at about $15 for a pressure treated post, $5 - $7 for a rail, that means you're only looking at around $25 to $40 to replace the framing, per section of fence done. You can get 8' pickets, though technically against code, you just have to use a board that isn't designated as a "picket" to get the length you need. That is to say, buy a rough cut 1x4 or 1x6, whichever you need, that is 8' in length, cut whatever profile you like for the top and install them.

If you use screws to attach the pickets, you will be able to make repairs much easier later on. Also, keep the pickets 1" off the ground so that they stay out of the dirt which will prevent rot and pest intrusion. Posts are generally set in concrete, this isn't a necessity, it's just faster and easier than dry packing the hole. Lastly, wind load on an 8' tall fence is substantially higher than it is on a 6' fence, even between structures, so I would not chance old, partially decayed posts with new fence boards.

Fencepost
Re: Fence: New boards over old??
A. Spruce wrote:

You can get 8' pickets, though technically against code, you just have to use a board that isn't designated as a "picket" to get the length you need.

Maybe, maybe not. Fence codes are typically set on a local basis, so what the code may prohibit in one city may be allowed in another.

As far as codes go, "grandfathering" may apply. Your present fence may not meet code, but you might be able to repair it in the same manner as the original construction. But if you tear it out and replace it, the new fence will need to meet current codes.

I'd say you're better off replacing the entire fence. Putting significant money into repairs that will extend the life of the fence by only a few years usually isn't a good use of money.

Ann
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

Ok-- I'm rethinking this.

Mainly what I want to do is deal with the pointy board ends that are broken off level with the top of the upper rail. They're ugly and being broken reduces the height of the fence in places.

So-- since we can't afford to spend a lot right now, my new idea is to cut off the remaining pointy ends and run a horizontal board across the top of the fence. I would attach it to the vertical posts and overlap the upper horizontal rail enough to get some attachment there too.
I can get rough-sawn cypress 1 x 12's locally for $2 per foot. ( 56 feet x $2 = $112 and I can deal with that.) I figure as long as I attach it low enough so its well-supported by the posts and rail it will be OK.

Reasonable?

dj1
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

"Reasonable"?

With all honesty, not to me, but I understand your financial position at the moment.

Why don't you just cut the points off to create a straight line, then hold off spending any more money on the fence, until you are in a position to replace the fence?

In the meantime, buy lotto tickets, but don't blame me if you don't win.

A. Spruce
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

We all understand money concerns. We've outlined the pros and cons of overlaying the existing fence. If you want to continue with an overlay, that is your decision to make. :cool:

dj1
Re: Fence: New boards over old??

A quick rough estimate (material only) for 56 feet of economy cedar fence:

130 1x6x6 dog ear cedar boards @2.20 = $286
8 4x4x8 PT posts @10 = 80
21 2x4x8 PT rails $5 = 105
50 rail holders @.40 = 20
Outdoor screws = 35
Cement, 16 sacks @3 = 48
Water = free
Total $574

If you are willing to spend $112 to gain basically nothing, wait till you have $574 and build a real fence, good for 25 years.

IMHO.

A. Spruce
Re: Fence: New boards over old??
dj1 wrote:

A quick rough estimate (material only) for 56 feet of economy cedar fence:

Just a guess, but I'd say she was talking about 56 linear feet of the material she mentioned, which is just about what she'd need for one section of fence.

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