Minnesota gets a brutal winter, not quite as bad as cities across the border, but bad enough to entitle us to complain. Winters here are characterized by snow, rain and then more snow, all with a bitter wind. Not much fun for us and not great for our fences either.
Fortunately, if you are careful about the type of fence that you buy, take the time to prepare for winter and are diligent about your maintenance you can get through winter without a glitch. As Minnesota lovers ourselves, we have decades of experience in installing fences in this tough environment, and we are confident that they will last.
Choosing the Right Material
Most importantly you need to ensure that you are choosing the right material for your fence. You need a material that is water resistant. Any material that is damaged by water absorbs it or otherwise lets it in, will struggle in the winter.
Even if we don’t get any rain for months, the snow is plenty wet enough to cause rotting, rust or peeling of your fence, especially if you choose the wrong material.
The right materials are hardy, tough and resistant to water. Think steel, aluminum, and plastic. These three materials are all manmade which gives them an inherent resistance to water in that they don’t rot in the same way that a natural material like wood does.
However, we all know that metal can rust incredibly easily, especially when there is regular rain or snow for weeks on end. To protect our metal fences from rust, we use quality materials that are naturally resistant to rust. But more importantly, we coat them with a thick powder that prevents water entering and rusting the metal itself.
Wood, on the other hand, is susceptible to water. It can become soggy; it rots easily when wet and its strength and integrity are compromised. Not only that, but wood fences are often installed without concrete based, meaning that the snow and rain can soften the soil causing the fence to lose its footing.
Overall, wood is a horrible material for fencing, and that’s why we don’t use it for any of our fences. Instead, we recommend a wrought iron, chain link or vinyl fence depending on your needs.
Preparing for Winter
Before winter starts, there are a few precautions that you can take to ensure that your fence is ready for the oncoming brutality of winter. If you have a metal fence, either wrought iron or chain link, you should ensure that it has a fresh coat of protective paint or powder that fully seals the metal.
Without this sealant, the water from snow or rain will be able to come into contact with the metal and eventually cause it to rust. The paint makes the fence look beautiful, and it helps to protect it from the weather. To get the most benefit, you should apply a fresh sealant a month before the winter to any bare areas.
One of the advantages of vinyl is that it doesn’t need any preparation or maintenance, making it the ideal fencing material for Minnesota. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing can go wrong. It’s always wise to walk the length of your fence to check the area where it meets the ground to see if the soil or gravel is loose.
If it is loose, then water will get in, which can cause the ground to move and the integrity of the base or the fence to be compromised. This problem is more familiar with chainlink fences that use concrete around the posts because small cracks can allow water in which will contract and expand in the winter, causing further cracks and damage to the fence.
Winter is here, what now? If you have prepared as we suggested, and you have a metal or vinyl fence you can be safe in the knowledge that your fence is protected. The only maintenance that you should continue throughout the winter months is the removal of snow.
Removing snow from around the base of the fence can help to prevent issues with the soil and grounding. While eliminating snow from atop the fence reduce the weight load on the fence, which is particularly dangerous for vinyl which is weaker than our iron wrought or chainlink fences.