How to Repair an Aluminum and Steel Fence

A beautiful black colored steel fence

A well-maintained aluminum or steel fence will outlast your mortgage. With its timeless look, low maintenance, and durability, you’ve got a fence that can last for years. But the keywords are “well-maintained.” When it does need some attention, how do you repair an aluminum and steel fence?

Here we’ll learn about everyday problems and how to fix them with an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide.

Common Aluminum and Steel Fence Repairs

Aluminum and steel fences are popular among homeowners for their durability, low maintenance, or gorgeous aesthetics. This type of fencing will outlast many of your other outdoor structures. But like everything in life, your metal fence will need some upkeep and repairs. Here are some common problems you’ll eventually encounter.

Gate doesn’t open or close correctly

The solution depends on the source of the problem.

  • Squeaky or sticky: Apply a lubricant like WD-40. Be sure to lubricate hinges and other moving parts regularly to keep the gate working properly. 
  • Gate hinges: If the lubricant doesn’t work, your hinges may need to be replaced. Look for rusty, loose, damaged, or visibly worn hinges.
  • Damaged gate: The gate may be bent, damaged, or worn, which means repair or replacement.
  • Damaged post: Posts can be damaged or uncentered. Your gate post may need repair or replacement. A leaning post leads to a leaning fence.
  • Damaged fencing: The issue could be in the adjoining fencing. Leaning or damaged fencing can cause your entire border structure to shift, leading to an ill-working gate.

Once you determine the problem, you can either DIY the fix or hire an experienced contractor. 

Shifted or uprooted fence posts 

Fence posts are the backbone of your fence. Sometimes post problems are obvious, but sometimes they’re not. Use a level to check that your posts are straight and even.

  • Set your post in concrete: First things first. If your post still needs to be set in concrete, rectify this as soon as possible. Posts set in concrete are much more stable and are less likely to shift or uproot.
  • Replace concrete: Nothing is unbreakable. Even if your fence posts are set into concrete, you may need to reset them. Replacing the concrete involves a sledgehammer and some elbow grease.

As long as you don’t mind doing some heavy lifting, replacing or resetting fence posts is a relatively easy DIY project. If you don’t have the time or energy, a fencing professional can lend a helping hammer.

Damaged rails or fence sections

Aluminum and steel fences are very durable. But strong winds, fallen trees, and other accidents happen that can damage your rails. Check your fence regularly to spot problems as soon as they arise.

  • Loose fence rail: If you have a loose rail, you can support it with a T-brace. 
  • Replacing fence section: Unfortunately, you can’t replace just one broken rail. Like vinyl fencing, you’ll need to replace the entire panel. Be careful to match the color to the rest of the fence. If you want, you could take this opportunity to refresh your fence paint or change the fence color for a new look.
  • The fence rail is bent: You can hammer the rail back into shape. However, you’ll likely have to replace the section.

Although fence section and rail replacements are not beginner DIY projects, they’re doable. Be sure to use the proper safety equipment!

Rust and dirt

Rust and dirt take away from the aesthetics of your fence, but they also can become an even bigger problem.

  • Rust: Metal fencing eventually rusts, especially stainless steel and wrought iron fences. Heavy precipitation or salt water causes fences to rust faster. 
  • Dirty or stained fence: Both aluminum and steel fences are washable. For dirt buildup or stains, use a power washer. If you don’t have a power washer, old-fashioned elbow grease works, too. Use soap, warm water, and a brush to scrub your fence. Then, rinse with a garden hose.

Regularly check for rust to maximize your fence’s lifespan, and include fence cleaning in your yearly yard maintenance.

How to Replace Fence Gate Hinges

A close up of a silver colored fence gate hinge
Photo Credit: TheCozyEscape / Canva Pro / License

Your gate’s functionality hinges on its, well, hinges. Are you having a hinge problem? Here’s how to tackle it.

Materials needed

  • Piece of wood
  • Power drill
  • Bit for metal drilling
  • Hinges appropriate for your gate
  • Screws appropriate for your gate
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: Check hinges

Make sure it’s your hinges that need to be replaced. Sometimes, gate post problems can seem like hinge issues.  

Also, you may only need to replace some of your hinges. Check to see which hinges are worn, damaged, or rusty, and replace them. Understand that you’ll remove them all and can give a closer inspection for a more accurate determination.

Step 2: Remove hinges

Place a piece of wood under your gate door to support the door’s weight. Don’t skip this step, as it can cause damage.

Remove all the hinges from the gate and post using your power drill. Be careful that the gate doesn’t sag, as this will cause damage.

Step 3: Inspect hinges

Often, damaged hinges are the result of improper hardware. Here are some common problems.

  • Hinges are not heavy-duty enough
  • Hinges are not outdoor rated
  • Screws are not the appropriate size

Once you’ve completed your inspection, make sure to get the correct number of hinges in the correct type and size or you’ll have to replace them again.

Step 4: Replace hinges

Using measuring tape, mark where to drill your new holes.

Use the power drill and a bit rated for metal drilling to drill new holes.

Affix new hinges to the post and gate. Be sure to use wood pieces for stability to prevent hinge damage.

How to Set Posts in Concrete/Replace Concrete Set Posts

A close up of a beautiful concrete fence
Photo Credit: Istvan Balogh / Canva Pro / License

Posts are the backbone of a fence, so it’s no surprise they need a solid concrete foundation. If you’re having a metal fence post issue, its foundation may need some help. Here’s how to set or replace your post’s concrete foundation.

Materials needed

  • Wrench or appropriate hand tool
  • Shovel
  • Sledgehammer
  • Post hole digger
  • New cement
  • New fence post (If needed)
  • New hardware (if needed)

Step 1: Unhook fence

Unbolt or unhook the fence rails from the posts using a wrench or appropriate hand tool. The tools you use will depend on your fence’s setup.

Step 2: Remove post

Use a shovel to dig out your post.

If your post is set in concrete, use a sledgehammer to break up the old concrete.

Step 3: Prep post hole

With the shovel or post hole digger, fix or re-dig the hole for the new post. 

The hole should be about 10 inches wide and 2 to 3 feet deep (depth depends on the post type and the frost line).

The hole should also be bell-shaped, meaning wider at the bottom.

Step 4: Replace post

Put the post in the hole. If the old post is still in good condition, use that one. If not, install a new post.

Add concrete according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Using a level, make sure the post is centered and straight. Be sure to be diligent on this step. The last thing you want is to start over again.

Step 5: Reattach fence

Allow the concrete to set until completely dry.

Add dirt or grass on top of the concrete if desired.

Reattach your rails. You may need new hardware to reattach the fence, but if the old hardware is in good condition, you can use what you have. Hardware will vary depending on the fence setup.

How to Replace an Aluminum or Steel Fence Section

A beautiful green color steel fence
Photo Credit: Ivan Halkin / Canva Pro / License

Aluminum and steel fencing are knights in shining armor. But that doesn’t mean the armor doesn’t get chinks when battling the weather. Sometimes you’ll need to replace sections of the fence. Here’s how to return your champion fence to tip-top shape.

Materials needed

  • Reciprocating saw
  • Drill/driver
  • Self-tapping metal screws
  • Railing brackets

Step 1: Remove the fence panel

Using a reciprocating saw, cut the damaged panel on the post side.

Remove the screws from the other side. Pull the panel toward you to free it from the fence and set it aside.

Step 2: Insert new panel

Insert the new panel rails into the appropriate post slots. Do this on the side where you removed the screws.

At the other end, using the reciprocating saw, cut the rails to the correct length.

Step 3: Secure new panel

On the cut side, add railing brackets onto the rails. Then, screw the brackets to the posts.

On the non-cut side, re-screw the screws. If needed, use new screws.

How to Remove Rust

A close up of a rust iron fence
Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you have any metal structure, you have to worry about rust. Rust can even spread to your lawn. But before it becomes a problem, learn how to get rid of that rust.

Note: Use this method if you catch rust before corrosion rots through your metal fence parts. Once the rust has corroded through, you’ll need to replace the damaged part.

Materials needed

  • Sandpaper or wire brush
  • Paint sprayer or paint brush
  • Rust-inhibiting primer
  • Exterior enamel

Step 1: Sand rust spot

Using sandpaper or a wire brush, scrub off the rust.

Step 2: Add primer

Apply the rust-inhibiting primer. Spray painting is the fastest, but brushing lasts longer.

Step 3: Spray on enamel

Spray or paint on the exterior enamel.

Cost to Repair an Aluminum and Steel Fence

A beautiful shiny aluminium fence
Photo Credit: Reartis / Canva Pro / License

The repair cost for an aluminum and steel fence will vary depending on several factors.

  • Repair needed
  • Materials needed
  • Local material prices
  • Local labor costs
  • Type of fence
  • Size, height, and design of the fence

That said, here’s an average cost guide to help you crunch some numbers.

  • Average fence repair cost: $495
  • Repair cost range: $50 – $1600
  • Average steel fence repair cost: $500
  • Average aluminum fence repair cost: $545
  • Average steel fence repair cost per linear foot: $45
  • Average aluminum fence repair cost per linear foot: $37

It’s important to fix problems as soon as you notice them, or you may have to replace your entire fence.

When to Repair or Replace an Aluminum or Steel Fence

If you’re not sure whether to repair or replace your fence, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How extensive is the damage? If the damage affects your fence’s structure or ability to function, you’ll want to replace the fence.
  • How widespread is the damage? If your damage is limited to one area, you can repair or replace that section. Just be sure to check that it hasn’t affected your posts. You should replace the fence if you’ve noticed damage in multiple areas.
  • How old is your fence? If your fence is over 50 years old, you should consider a fence replacement. An older fence will continue to have problems.
  • How was it damaged? If you’re using aluminum to contain animals, you will have the same problem over and over. If your fence isn’t appropriate for its desired use, you should replace it with one better suited for the job.

Here are a few other factors to consider when making your decision.

  • Insurance: Check with your homeowners’ insurance. They may cover part or all of your replacements or repairs.
  • Warranty: Your fence may be covered under warranty, depending on the problem and the age of your fence.
  • Neighbors: If you share a fence with your neighbor, they’re also responsible for the upkeep. Check with them before you start, as they can help fund the repairs. Who knows? They may be a fencing contractor that hasn’t noticed the problem yet.
  • Budget: If you can’t afford a fence replacement, you can’t replace it. You may have to make do with repairs until you can save enough money. However, it’s a good idea to explore your options. You’ll at least know how much you need to save.

Now that your fence is good as new, consider new ways to spruce up your yard.

FAQ About How to Repair an Aluminum and Steel Fence

What is the difference between aluminum and steel fencing?

Both aluminum and steel fences are excellent choices. But there are a few key differences between the two.

Durability: Steel fences are more durable than aluminum fences.
Strength: Steel fences are heavy and strong.
Rust resistance: Aluminum resists rust, but steel doesn’t. However, a protective coating will go a long way in preventing rust on your steel fence.
Customization: Although aluminum and steel have many options, aluminum has more color choices.
Cost: Aluminum fence materials are less expensive than steel fences. However, the installation of steel fences is cheaper. The overall fence installation price tag is cheaper for aluminum, but the price difference is relatively small.

Which is better: Steel or aluminum fencing?

The answer to that question depends on what you’re looking for in a fence. Consider some pros and cons for each:

Pros: Strong, damage resistant, widely used, more aesthetically desirable
Cons:Heaviness makes DIY installation difficult, rusts easily without a protective coating

Pros: Lightweight, affordable material, rust-resistant, eco-friendly
Cons: Dents and bends easier, not recommended for security or commercial purposes

How long does aluminum and steel fencing last?

An aluminum fence lasts at least 30 years, but it’ll often last 50 years or more.
A steel fence’s minimum life span is also 30 years, but it’s known to stand firm for 70 years or more.
A few things you can do to get the most out of your fence’s lifespan include

Clean: Wash your fence every year. The easiest option is pressure washing, but soapy water and a scrub brush will also do the trick.
Rust: Due to the protective powder coatings, rust won’t happen often, but it does happen. Check regularly for rust and repair the damage immediately.
Repair: Check your fence, especially after a storm. If you notice loose or broken parts, repair them quickly.
Prevention: Most damage comes from flying objects in harsh weather. Remove debris, clean up toys and yard tools, and secure yard accessories like trampolines.

When to Hire a Fencing Professional

Although it won’t be a cakewalk, fencing fixes are a doable homeowner DIY project. But it will take planning, preparation, and patience. If those three words have you feeling fenced in, don’t stress. There are experienced fencing professionals that are happy to lend a helping hammer. 

Are you still trying to figure out where to start? FenceGnome can help. We’ll quickly get you connected with a highly-rated contractor in your area.

Main Image Credit: Steverts / Canva Pro / License

Nicki DeStasi

Nicki DeStasi is a writer, author, and teacher who grew up in western Massachusetts and currently resides in the Austin area. She enjoys flower and vegetable gardening, reading, cooking, listening to true-crime podcasts, and spending time with her husband, three children, dog, and cat.