How to Brace a Wooden Fence

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A leaning fence is often the result of rotten or broken support posts. Before the situation gets worse, take time to brace a wooden fence. Once supported so it doesn't completely collapse, address the underlying cause of the wobbly fence as soon as possible. Whether you install metal brackets or "sister" a new post to the old, it will require planning and preparation to ensure that your efforts produce satisfactory results.

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How to Brace a Fence

To brace the fence, do the following:

  • Pound a sturdy stake into the ground approximately 4 feet out from the sagging fencepost.
  • Push the fence to vertical and insert a 5- to 6-foot-long 2-by-4- or 4-by-4-inch board or post, one end against the stake and the other against the fencepost.
  • Adjust as needed, using a spirit level to ensure the fencepost is vertical.
  • While a helper holds the fence and brace in place, drill two 4-inch deck screws through the brace and into the post, or screw a piece of scrap wood to the post, just above the bracing board to keep it in place.
  • Repeat as needed with the posts on each side of the failing post to keep the fence even while you work.

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In some cases, the fence will need a second brace installed on the opposite side to keep it from flopping in the other direction.

Install Support Brackets on a Fence

Once you've temporarily straightened the fence, take a look at the base of the leaning 4-by-4-foot post. In many cases, the post is broken, rotted and/or damaged by insects. Sometimes, the concrete footing has failed or, if not set in concrete, the surrounding soil is soft or wet and unable to support the weight of the post and fencing.

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There are a variety of fence support products that provide solutions that may last several years, at least until replacing the fence is feasible. Whichever product you choose, whether two or three straight steel stakes or a bracket designed to fit snugly against the post with an offset that fits outside of the concrete footing, put on your gloves, safety goggles, earplugs, and other safety gear and prepare to drive it in with a hammer or sledgehammer.

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Here's how to install support brackets on a fence:

  • Remove rocks and debris, then align the metal bracket according to the manufacturer's directions and pound it into the ground next to the post or footing.
  • In the case of offset brackets, pound until the horizontal section is flush with the top of the footing.
  • Adjust the post to ensure it is still vertical, then screw the bracket to the post to hold it securely in place.
  • If the bottom of the post is severely damaged, you can add brackets to the sides for additional support.

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"Sister" Metal Posts for Extra Fence Support

Completely replacing a fencepost may not be an option, but when metal brackets won't provide enough support due to the lack of a footing or insect damage, adding an extra post may be the best solution. If termites or carpenter ants are the issue, consider "sistering" a metal post to the existing 4-by-4-inch wood post.

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Here's how to install a metal support post for extra support:

  • Place the supporting braces on each side of the post, approximately 2 feet away, so you have room to work.
  • Hammer a T-post into the soil or dig a hole for a galvanized fence post, using a shovel or post hole digger, and positioning so the new post will be flush against the original. (The hole should be three times the width of the metal post and approximately 3 feet deep if you're going to cement the fence post in place.)
  • Pour 6 inches of gravel into the hole and tamp before inserting the metal fencepost into the hole, holding it tightly against the wood post.
  • Pour a quick-setting concrete mix and water into the hole, per the package instructions.
  • Use a piece of rebar or scrap wood in an up-and-down motion to help mix and distribute the wet concrete around the post. A spirit level helps ensure that the posts are vertical.
  • After the concrete sets, install U-brackets to "sister" the new and old posts together.

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