Installing fences in winter: Frequently asked questions

Fence in the snow
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If you are thinking of putting a fence up in winter there are a few things that you need to think about. It can be a good idea to put a fence up in winter because labour and materials will be cheaper and you won’t disrupt the garden too much as you wouldn’t be using it anyway.

There are a few additional challenges which we will address when trying to put a fence up in winter. These questions apply to wooden fences, composite fences and metal fences.

Can you put up fencing in winter?

Winter is the perfect time to plan and build your landscape with fencing. With winter, you get a break from bugs like mosquitoes that would otherwise be hogging your attention all summer.

There are also better deals for buying wood and hardware because it’s not prime construction season.

Although frost and rain can present some challenges it is possible to build fences in winter. This article will help you overcome those challenges so that you can get your fence up and enjoy it as much as possible before summer comes around again.

How cold is too cold to build a fence?

There are many factors that go into a successful fence installation in winter. The most important one is the temperature. Planking needs to be warmed up before you can nail it. If it’s too cold, the planking will be brittle and won’t bend, which will make for a difficult installation.

Another consideration is setting the concrete or post mix. To adequately set, your mix will need to be above 3 degrees C for at least 24 hours. And don’t think that using warm water will help this.

Is it cheaper to install a fence in the winter?

It is cheaper to install a fence in the winter for many reasons. One of the main ones is that it’s off season and you can find better deals on materials and labour.

Also, there are less customers during this time period so you’ll have more attention from your contractor.

Can I install a fence with snow on the ground?

It depends on the type of fencing you are trying to install. If you have stockade or any other type of post and rail, then yes you can install the fence with snow on the ground!

If you’re installing a panel fence, then it’s best if the snow is cleared away from the panels before installing.

Snow creates additional work and can also hide signs of utilities which you would accidentally hit.

What is the best time of year to install a fence?

The best time of year to install a fence is autumn. Autumn allows for some of the best deals on materials and labour.

This is because it is not prime construction season and there are usually less customers which means more competition and lower prices. This is also true for materials which suppliers will be doing more to sell such as having deals.

Does wood rot in freezing temperatures?

The answer to this question is “it depends”. Wood can rot as a result of the total moisture content. If the moisture content in the wood is below 18% (dry), then it is unlikely that the wood will rot in freezing temperatures.

If freezing temperatures mean that the wood will not be able to dry out then it can cause it to rot.

Its a good idea to treat your fence before installing it to prevent this from happening. You can also protect your fence from rot by keeping it clear of snow and keep the soil around its base as well as underneath free of leaves, sticks etc.

What temperature does the ground freeze?

The ground will freeze at 0 degrees C however this may or may not impact your fencing project.

If you have a short freeze which is followed by an increase in temperature it may make the surface of the ground freeze but under the surface the ground will remain unfrozen.

If you’re concerned about the impact of sub-zero temperatures on your project then it’s a good idea to call a local expert for advice.

If the temperature does not go back up above 3 degrees C then the earth may stay frozen and will probably be too cold to install a fence.

Can you pour concrete for fence posts in the winter?

A lot of people are confident they can pour concrete for fence posts in the winter. However, this may not be the best idea. Concrete and cement need to have at least 24 hours to cure, and this is only possible in temperatures of around 3 degrees Celsius or above.

When it comes to outdoor concrete, there is also the problem of water freezing on contact with the surface and preventing ample drying out. For this reason, it is often better to wait until spring when there is no risk of sub-zero temperatures before proceeding with a poured post installation.

Can you do fencing in rain?

Fencing in the rain is possible but not always the best idea. If you plan to do fencing in the rain, make sure it’s covered with a tarp or PVC to minimize damage.

Digging fence post holes in the rain can be challenging as earth becomes heavier and the holes can fill with water in poorly drained gardens.

Installing fencing involves lots of moving things around, if you are walking cross grass this can leave it quite mashed up. If you are walking over paving it will get very muddy and need jet washing afterwards.

In other words if you can avoid installing fencing in the rain then its best to wait. If you need to the just be aware of the additional costs.

Are some types of fence easier to install in winter?

There are no specific types of fence which are easier to put up in winter however close board and slatted fences are generally a little easier because there are lots of instructions for them online.

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