Wood Fence Winter Problems: Knotholes And Rot

29 December 2014
 Categories: , Blog


If you have a wood fence, then you should prepare for unique problems during winter. For example, the low temperatures (and its associated complications) can result in knotholes and rot for the wood posts. Here is how you can deal with these two problems.


The daily shifts in temperatures result in expansion and contraction of the wood. With time, the gaps between the knots and the main wood post increase, and the knots can even fall off and leave holes on the wood. Monitor your fence posts for these knotholes because they make perfect habitats or hiding grounds for pests (such as termites), which invariably damage the fence.

Here is how to fix the knotholes:

  • Sand the inside of the holes with sandpaper.
  • Push ready-to-use wood putty into the holes and give it about 12 hours to dry.
  • Put more wood putty onto the first layer so that it is roughly even with the wood layer and extends slightly over each of the hole's edges.
  • If a knothole extends to the other side of the post, repeat the above steps for the other end of the hole.
  • Let it dry for 24 hours and then sand it flat.

Mold, Mildew and Rot

Apart from knotholes, mold, mildew and rot are also common problems during winter. This is because the melting snow exposes the wood to moisture, and water accelerates wood damage. One way of preventing such damage is to keep the posts dry by eliminating organic matter (that trap moisture) between the boards.

In addition, you should also seal the wood to prevent water from seeping inside it. Follow these steps to help you seal the wood posts:

  • Wash the wood – a power washer connected to a garden hose works best, but it shouldn't be too powerful because that would damage the wood. (A power washer rated between 1,500 to 2,000 psi is adequate).
  • Let the fence dry.
  • Roll, spray or brush the stain according to the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure you cover all surfaces including corners and cracks.

The stain will require at least 24 hours to dry, so you should time it when there is no projected rain.

These are just two examples of problems that may face your wood posts during winter. Other problems include post loosening due to shifting soil, fence damage by snow removers and falling debris (such as trees). Monitor your fence and call fence contractors for any problem you cannot handle on your own.