How to Replace Fence Panels Between Concrete Posts
We have a fence around our back garden made of concrete fence posts (which look like they'll never move), concrete gravel boards, and wooden fence panels. In a recent storm, seven of the fence panels in our garden were blown out. I looked and looked for some simple instructions on how to get them back in but found so much conflicting advice that I couldn't make head nor tail of it all. I decided to share my own experience here.
Before You Start
If your fence panel has blown out, then it's likely that it bent when it blew out. It may have swung half in, half out for a bit or landed hard on the ground at an awkward angle. With all this bending and being thrown around, it's a good idea to check the panel over. Look for loose nails that need hammering back in or battens that may have snapped and need repairing.
Best Case Scenario
If you're lucky, you'll be able to get your fence panels back in pretty much the same way they came out. The best case scenario is when you can lift the fence panel up, fit one edge in the groove in the post, and bend the bottom of the panel just enough so you can push the other edge between the posts. Once the bottom is in then, with a mixture of brute force and gentle persuasion, you should be able to work your way up the panel pushing the rest in.
Our fence is a few years old now and the panels have started to warp, especially along the bottom edge. This is one reason they blew out so easily. I stood my panels on blocks just high enough to lift the bottom edge higher than the gravel boards. This way I could rest the panel with one edge, held in the slot in the concrete post, whilst bending the bottom edge to get the other side in.
This technique works best when the panels are wet so that the wood is more likely to bend rather than snap. Not too wet though, because the wetter they are the heavier they'll be!
When Panels Don't Fit Back in Easily
Of the seven fence panels that blew down I was lucky with six of them. They just popped back in. But one just wouldn't bend enough to fit between the posts. This panel sat in the garden for weeks as I wondered how on earth to lift a six-foot fence panel 12 feet in the air and drop it between the posts. This is how I ended up doing it, which was actually pretty easy, even on a relatively breezy day.
The idea is basically to put the fence panel on legs so it can be lifted into position before removing the legs and dropping it down. If the fence panel is dry (it hasn't been lying on wet grass for a week) then it should be pretty light, making it less awkward to maneuver the panel into position.
Step-by-Step Panel Repair
- 5 pieces of sturdy wood around 6' long (a bit longer is fine). 1 should be around 6" wide, the others just need to be strong enough to hold the fence panel.
- The first step is to reinforce your fence panel. If it's anything like mine then it will be pretty weak once it has been taken out from between the fence posts that support it on either side.
- Lay the panel on the ground with the side you want facing your property facing up. Take two of your pieces of wood and position them on top of the panel, running top to bottom about a quarter of the way in from the sides. Nail them in position. (You can use clamps instead but I only had two clamps, so I used nails for this part).
- Now you want to make some legs for your panel. These will form an H shape and the panel will sit on top.
- Position two of your other lengths of wood on the ground parallel to each other, the same distance apart as the two that are nailed to the panel. Position your 6"-wide length across these two and nail into position. Use at least two nails, positioned a distance apart at each join, to prevent the wood from twists and to make a more rigid structure.
- Now clamp the H-shaped legs to the bottom of the wood lengths you nailed to the panel.. Remember, the side facing up is the side that will be facing you once the panel is back in place. Make sure the clamps will be easy to remove from that side.
- Roll the whole structure over and position the bottom of the legs at the bottom of the empty gap where you want your fence panel to end up.
- Lift the top of the panel up over your head and walk forward, lifting the whole structure into a vertical position. Once it's fully vertical, you should have a fence panel that's around 12' in the air with the bottom positioned just below the top of the posts. You may be able to move the top of the posts enough just to push the bottom of the panel between them (the posts will have far more movement at the top than they do at the bottom) or you may need to lift it up the last few inches to slot it into position.
- Once you've got the bottom of the panel neatly in between the posts, just remove the clamps that are holding the legs on and drop the panel into position. Remove the two lengths of wood that you nailed on in step one, and you're done!