Fences can be a beautiful addition to your home – they can protect your kids and pets, create a private space to enjoy, and even serve as a landscaping feature that contours and adds shape to your yard. Depending on the material, fences can also be a point of contrast or a complement to your home, emphasizing a particular style or architectural design.
But not all fences are a bonus. If you just purchased your home, it’s possible that the previous owners installed a cheap, DIY fence that doesn’t fit with the style of your individual home or your neighborhood – if it’s even still standing. Alternatively, wooden fences in particular simply have a natural lifespan, and if your fence has reached the end of its useful life then it may be more eyesore or hazard than benefit.
So today, we’re highlighting the steps you’ll want to take in order to make sure that if you’re removing an old fence – whether you’re looking to open up your space or just want to replace the fence with a new and improved version – in order to accomplish your task safely and effectively.
Can You Take It Down?
Checking on whether you can take your fence down in the first place is a common sense first step – and we’re not just talking about in terms of HOA regulations or community standards. If your fence is right along the edge of your property, it’s important to make sure that every inch of the fence actually belongs to you.
In some cases, the fence may have been a shared endeavor between your home’s previous owner and your neighbor(s), and removing some or all of the fence without checking on these important details can be a quick path to putting backs up in your community. That said, once you’ve confirmed that the fence is definitely yours, and you’re within your rights to remove it, you can proceed with the hard part – getting the fence out of there.
Just The Panels Or Posts And All
When it comes to most fences, there are two major components – the panels and the posts. In general, the posts are the pieces of your fence that are made of thicker, sturdier wood. They will be deeply entrenched in the ground, and may even have been cemented to hold them firmly in place.
And in some cases, that’s great news – if the posts are in good condition, you may want to reuse them with your next fence, meaning that a solid prior installation is a huge bonus. But if the posts are warped, rotten, splitting, or otherwise compromised, then you’ll probably be removing them too. Regardless of the outcome, it’s important to know before you start your project whether you plan to remove just the panels or the whole fence, posts and all.
Removing the panels from your fence is a fairly easy process – it usually just involves pulling nails and/or sawing boards to detach the panels from the rail that extends between each set of posts. But the posts themselves can present an interesting challenge.
If your fence posts were simply installed in loose dirt, you can get a firm grip on them (once you’ve removed the panels and rails) and simply wiggle them loose. If you want to save the posts, you should probably be a little less aggressive – but otherwise, a stubborn post can often be convinced to move with a hearty whack from a sledge hammer, loosening the tightly compacted earth enough to release its grip.
In the case of cemented posts, things get a little trickier. There are numerous methods for removing concrete footers from the ground – and of course, alternatively, you can cut the fence post close to the base, cover the footer with top soil, and place a new footer further down the fence line. No matter which method you choose, make sure that you exercise caution and patience.
The number one priority for any DIY project is safety – and removing old fences is no exception. Splintered wood, rusty nails, and debris from power tools can all come together to create a pretty risky environment. Using sturdy work gloves, eye protection, and a healthy dose of patience will serve you well when it comes to completing your project injury-free.