How And Where To Replace Cedar Fence Boards

cedar fence newly finished with brown mulch and green grass in front of it in a large backyard

There are several reasons to seek new cedar fence boards. Maybe you slammed into the fence with the mower last week when you took a turn a bit too late.  Or maybe a tree limb came down and smashed a section of your cedar fence.  If you need cedar fence boards, this article is for you.  We’ll discuss some of the most common reasons you need to replace cedar fence boards, and where you can find the correct replacement that’ll meet your needs.

#1 Cause Of Cedar Fence Boards Replacement

One of the most common problems with cedar fences as they age is rot.  Yes, cedar is far more rot resistant than pine or spruce, but they do eventually decompose.  You’ll find the boards located in a shady part of the yard are usually the first to rot. It may take 15 or 20 years, but eventually you’ll want to consider replacing a few boards, or possibly a whole section of fence.  

Most fencing is sold in sections. That is, an 8’ long panel of prefabricated fencing. This makes the job of the fence company easier.  They don’t have to take the time to build the horizontal supports, nail each cedar fence board, and so on. They simply need to place the fence posts correctly, and install the fence panels.  Obviously they need to know what they’re doing as putting a fence up for the first time can be a daunting experience.  

How To Replace Cedar Fence Boards

Whether your cedar fence boards are damaged or rotted, you need to solve the problem the same way in either case.  You need to remove the broken or rotten boards, and check the condition of the horizontal rails.  The rails support the boards between the posts.  If the rails are rotted, you’ll want to look into replacing them, or possibly the whole panel.  For now, let’s assume the rails are not rotted and you only need to replace cedar fence boards.

How To Remove Damaged Boards On A Cedar Fence

In various parts of the country, cedar fences are built slightly differently.  If you live in Texas for example, there’s a good chance your cedar fence was actually not built using fence panels, but was built piece by piece.  These fences are usually built out of 1 x 6 cedar, which has some tendency to curl and warp over time.  This type of fence really ought to be sealed or treated early on to reduce movement as it ages.  However, these are also the easiest types of fence boards to replace.  Simply pull out the nails using a cat’s paw and remove the board and nail up the new one.  

Whether you are replacing boards in a stockade fence or a 1×6 fence, you may notice fence boards are either nailed or stapled.  Whenever you are removing the fasteners for the first time, take your time to carefully learn how it works. That way you don’t cause any excess damage during the fastener removal.  Though you don’t need to be careful of the damaged board you are removing, try not to damage the neighboring boards by getting overly aggressive.

How To Install New Cedar Boards On A Fence

When nailing up your new board, make sure you use stainless steel nails.  These are some of the most frustrating nails to deal with as stainless steel is not nearly as strong as carbon steel. Furthermore, the nails tend to bend easier as you pound them in.  If you’re using an air nailer or brad nailer, it’s easy as can be.  The stainless steel nails will prevent rust bleeding and staining as the fence ages.

brand new brown cedar fence boards installed in a small backyard with green shrubs in front

If you’re having trouble finding your replacement cedar fence boards, stop by a local fence company with photos and measurements of your fence boards.  They may have some pieces lying around the shop they can sell you.  They obviously would like to have you hire them to do the work. 

However, most of them are so busy, they’d rather not bother with a few replacement boards here and there and would gladly provide the boards you need directly.  First however, try your local independent lumber yards.  They are far more likely to have what you need than the likes of Home Depot or Lowes, but you can try them too if all else fails.  

Cedar Fence Boards Summary

Completing your cedar fence boards replacement will make your fence look like it has a few brand new boards in it.  Give it six months or so and they’ll blend in with the older ones.  Alternately, go ahead and paint the whole fence to match and they’ll blend in immediately. Darker colors such as black fence paint will save you time. It’s your choice on what you think would look best for your backyard.

Here’s a great video on building a cedar board fence. The process is a bit longer, but the concepts remain applicable.