Has your fence reached the end of its days? Sometimes, there’s no denying it: wood is rotting, warping, or has been otherwise damaged by the weather, and there’s no hope for repair. Maybe your trusty fence has served your home for many years and it’s hard to say goodbye…or maybe that fence was put up by previous residents and you think it’s an eyesore. Either way, the fence has got to go.
Removing an old fence yourself is a great way for DIYers to save costs. Plus, it’ll get you a good workout! It can be strenuous, especially if your fence posts are sitting in cement footings, but it’s still not as hard as you might think. Here are some tips for removing your old wooden fence!
Wait–are you allowed to take down that fence?
Before you tear down your fence, it’s important to think about fence etiquette–just like you would when you put up a new fence. Being a good neighbor means not taking down a fence that isn’t yours to take down, so confirm your property lines and make sure none of the fence is on part of your neighbor’s yard. If you’re sure you have the right to remove your fence, then you can proceed.
Don’t forget about safety!
Taking down a fence involves using power tools like electric saws and lifting heavy pieces of wood, so it’s a good idea to take caution. The project will be a lot safer and a lot quicker with two people rather than one. Additionally, you may be removing some nails or screws from fence boards and posts. Even if you cut down your fence with a saw and don’t pull out the nails, you may want to recycle the wood for another project, which means you’ll want the nails removed. It’s important to be mindful that you’re not leaving nails all over your yard, as this can be dangerous to the people and animals that will inevitably step on them.
Removing just the fence panels
You’ll need to decide if you want to take down the entire fence or just the panels. If your posts are still in good condition, you may want to reuse them. However, if you push on your posts and can easily move them, this is a sign you have damage like termites or rotting. If they’re stable and don’t appear damage, you’re probably good to go.
There are a couple ways to strip down your fence to its posts. You can simply take an electric saw and saw the fence material along the post. However, you can also dismantle your fence board by board. To do this, you’ll need to use a hammer to bang the board in toward the rail so that some of the nail is sticking out. Then, you can pull the nail out with the back of your hammer and wiggle the board free.
Removing fence posts from the ground
If you don’t think you can salvage your fence posts, then you’ll have to get them out of the ground. If you have concrete footings, removing your fence posts is a bit of a challenge, but there are a variety of techniques you can use to get them out of the ground. You could just saw off the fence post and leave the concrete in the ground, but if you plan to put up a new fence, you’ll need to remove the footings. There are a variety of techniques you can use to get out those concrete footings. However, the easiest and best way to do it is:
Stack two 2x4s on top of each other and nail them to your fence post. It helps if the 2×4 you place on top is longer on the bottom.
Make a fulcrum by stacking a pile of concrete next to your fence post.
Grab another 2×4, which will be your lever. Position it so it sits on the fulcrum and underneath the 2x4s you nailed to the post.
Pull down on your lever until the fence post pops out of the ground.
Posts that sit directly in dirt are a lot easier to remove. You can just wiggle the posts until they come loose and then remove them from the ground.
Removing a fence involves heavy lifting, heavy tools, and possibly some sweat and tears. If your fence is stubborn, any technique you attempt may require a bit of maneuvering. If you don’t feel confident enough to remove your own fence, you can always hire someone else to do it. However, in addition to saving costs on hiring someone else to do it, you get the reward of know you did it yourself! Plus, once you’ve successfully taken down your own fence, you’re ready to install the new fence of your dreams.