Which is the easiest horse fence to maintain in Australia? Comparing Timber, PVC, Plastic and Steel Fences.
Congratulations! It’s finally done. You’ve chosen the fence of your dreams. Now you can simply install it and never have to worry about it ever again? Well, you’re right, but there are still a few more things to consider. Whether you own a car, a home or a farm, every investment asks for some time and care. The question is how frequently and for how much?
Whether you need to give up most of your weekends or a few days over a year depends on the kind of Post and Rail fencing you’ve chosen. At Stock & Noble, we provide the finest fencing solutions to our partners and with every product, it’s part of our mission to reduce the cost and most importantly time spent on maintenance.
This article will help you learn
- Why maintenance is important for Post and Rail fencing.
- What’s the maintenance required for different kinds of fencing.
- How to maintain Timber, PVC, Flexible Plastic and Steel Posts and Rails.
Flexible Plastic Rails and Steel Posts and Rails are the easiest to maintain horse fences in Australia.
No matter what type of fencing you own, maintaining it takes time and effort, but it will make you sleep better knowing it is well maintained, is safe, and will last you and your horses for years to come.
Why is it important to maintain my Post and Rail fences?
Post and Rail is an open fencing style, which traditionally was available only in Wood. However, over time with limitations associated with Timber Post and Rail, other types of fencing options also surfaced like PVC, Plastic, Concrete and Steel.
Each of these options needs to be maintained to make sure the fences last longer, look good, are protected from any natural damage like mould, are safe for your horses and restorative measures can be taken before the damage becomes more serious. A horse fence is a big investment and requires timely maintenance to protect it.
What is the maintenance required by my horse fencing?
Different fencing materials need different kinds of maintenance. A good practice is to check your fences every year after the initial installation and assess the maintenance required. Getting a professional to perform this check is a good idea. In light of the time and the initial investment, you would be wise to ask your fencing contractor to conduct an annual check on your horse property.
Maintenance of Timber Post and Rail
Pine naturally has several problems.
Its first issue is heat. Timber posts and rails are prone to warping, twisting, and buckling when they are exposed to the harsh sun.
Also watch out for termites that love eating the fence, moisture and mould that develops on the wood, any cracks on the surface, and any part that has started to rot and needs repair immediately.
If your Timber Posts and Rails are painted, then you should also check your fence for flaking or peeling paint.
How to maintain Timber Posts and Rails?
It takes some effort to make your Timber keep its rustic charm all year long. Once you or your fencing contractor has checked the fencing thoroughly, the next step is to attend to its needs.
- You need to wash or water-blast the fences to maintain the fresh and clean look and also remove any dirt, mould or algae on the surface.
- Often, mould needs to be scraped off timber fences to prevent the damage from spreading.
- Bang in any loose nails that could injure your horses.
- Touch up the paint on the surface.
- You must also check for cribbing and can use “Never Crib” a cribbing deterrent to help protect your fences from the horse bites.
These bits of maintenance are superficial and shouldn’t take you much time.
However, Pine is a natural product and over time it will rot, twist, warp, buckle and be eaten by termites. You cannot do much about it. Getting treated Pine might slow down this process and in humid areas, anti-mould paint can also help to reduce the need for maintenance.
The biggest factor that decides how much maintenance your Timber Fencing needs is the climate.
Maintenance of PVC fencing
While we’ve heard claims that PVC is maintenance-free. In our experience, this isn’t always true.
PVC isn’t fond of extreme temperatures and can turn brittle.
When a horse forces its way through, these fences might break apart and end up injuring your animals.
Also, PVC posts tend to be shorter and do not go deep into the ground. Therefore, they are more likely to lean over when the ground moves or when animals lean against the fence.
On top of it, since PVC isn’t a natural product when algae develop on your PVC Posts and Rails, it ends up staining the white fences.
How to maintain PVC Posts and Rails?
Since PVC Fences are largely available in white, they need to be cleaned and washed often to maintain their brightness and look.
- Once you’ve walked around and noted all the problem areas, hose your fence and scrub it down with water and soap.
- Water blasting is also a good option to get rid of the algae and dirt stuck to your PVC fences.
- Leaning posts can be corrected depending on whether they are concreted in or not. In most cases, though, with a little digging and some manpower, they can be straightened out. However, if they have leaned over once, it will likely happen again.
In other fencing options, if any rail leans or twists or buckles, it’s possible to replace only that rail separately. While in PVC Fencing the whole panel needs to be replaced.
Maintenance of Plastic Fences or Flexible Rails
Plastic Fence or Flexible Rail Fencing is relatively easier to maintain.
In some cases, if the end or corner assemblies are not solid enough to handle the tension, over time they may start to lean. The most important thing you must check is the tension of the rails. They should be straight and strong. Take a look at the strainer assemblies to ensure they haven’t moved. Also, note if the brackets are loose. You should observe if any tek screws are coming loose or have fallen out. These screws need to be securely fastened into the posts or completely removed. It’s also advised to be on the lookout for mould, fungi, or heat damage.
How to maintain Flexible Rails?
After you’ve strolled around your fences and checked everything, you can start the maintenance of.
- To remove dirt, mould and to make the posts look cleaner, you can wash them with warm soapy water.
- Tension the rails to keep them nice and straight.
- Fix any loose Tek screws back into the brackets.
- If you have Pine Posts, touch up any paint that might be coming off.
If you’re using anti-fungicide, stain-resistant and UV stabilised rails like Legacy, then you can keep maintenance related to mould, stains and heat out of your list.
Maintenance of Concrete fences
Concrete fences are definitely long lasting, but they do crack.
So, you should check for any cracks appearing on your fences and do due diligence. The good thing about concrete is that moss and algae cannot do any harm except to the look of your fence, even though they can grow on the concrete.
However, in coastal areas, salt can attack the reinforcing and break down the concrete fence.
Since concrete fences are incredibly heavy once it is broken, replacing it is very difficult.
How to maintain Concrete Posts and Rails?
When you get concrete posts installed, you don’t have to worry much about the maintenance other than cleaning it at regular intervals. Mould can often grow on concrete fences and if you really want good looking fences on your horse property, then you have to wash and scrub them often.
Maintenance of Steel Posts and Rails
Rust is the biggest enemy of steel. Any steel fencing to be successful and low on maintenance needs to have a proper rust management plan.
There are two types of Steel Fences available in Australia and New Zealand – Cattle Rail and Branded Steel Fences. Cattle Rail or Steel Pipe fencing is usually made by your fencing contractor by sourcing steel from local steel companies or fencing supply stores. While branded steel fences are solutions built by brands and are available only through specific suppliers. Like Buckley Post and Rail from Stock & Noble, Post and Rail from Dunn and Farrugia and TopRail from Blue Dog Fence.
With Steel fencing, you must walk along the line and first of all look out for any blisters and rust developing especially below the posts, underneath the rail or joints. Any opening through steel will invite rust.
If the fence is powder coated or painted, then check for chipping or fading.
Sometimes lime and concrete can eat away steel at the bottom of the posts, so do keep an eye out for that as well.
How to maintain Steel Posts and Rails fencing?
The maintenance of Steel Fencing depends on the kind of fence you’ve chosen for your horse property.
Cattle Rail requires the highest maintenance since it’s welded together and is prone to rust at joints. Also, if Cattle Rail isn’t painted it has no anti-rust protection offered by Premium Steel Paints.
In branded Steel Fences, Buckley Post and Rail from Stock & Noble, Post and Rail from Dunn and Farrugia and TopRail from Blue Dog Fence are all powder coated and have an extra layer of protection from rust.
However, do check Post and Rail from Dunn and Farrugia and TopRail from Blue Dog Fence for rust around the Tek screws. Since they are joined together, these openings in a Steel Fencing tend to develop rust more quickly.
Buckley Post and Rail from Stock & Noble is a closed fencing solution. Instead of screws it has a locking system with rubber grommets, ensuring there is no penetration of the finished powder coated steel.
Along with rust, you must check all branded steel fences for any chipping, cracking or fading of paint.
The best way to maintain Steel Fences is to
- Water blast or wash them with warm soapy water to make them sparkly clean.
- Paint with Anti-rust paint that adds an extra protection to the galvanised layering of steel. (In the case of Cattle Rail only)
- If you see blisters developing, buff them back.
- If you’ve welded a new rail, put a layer of cold galvanising on top to protect it from rust.
Which is the easiest to maintain Post and Rail fence for my horse property?
Every fencing we discussed here works well and the maintenance truly depends on the climatic conditions of your location, how clean you want your property to look and how often you check and fix the minor issues before they become bigger.
The biggest issue with fencing maintenance is mould. Timber, PVC, Flexible Rail Fencing and Concrete all are prone to mould growth and subsequent deterioration in looks or strength. It grows rapidly on Timber and makes it weaker, stains white PVC fences and covers Flexible Rails and Concrete fences with ugly-looking marks, impacting the aesthetics of your entire property.
Steel fencing doesn’t have a problem of mould, primarily because the heat once absorbed by steel transfers to the whole fence keeping any growth of mildew or fungi away. However, the biggest problem with Steel Posts and Rails is that they are prone to rust and need maintenance to keep it under control.
The easiest to maintain horse fences are Flexible Rail Fencing and Steel.
While buying Plastic fences it is wise to opt for black, if possible, especially if you want to do less maintenance.
If you choose to install a Steel Fence, it’s best to get one that is powder coated, preferably has a protective layer to stop concrete from eroding the steel posts and does not have screws or welding penetrations during installation, so there is little to no chance of rusting.
If you want more information on how to choose the right horse fence based on maintenance, speak to our fencing experts. They offer a free consultation to guide you in the best way possible.