There are plenty of practical uses for a fence: to gain privacy, safely corral kids and pets, block wind and noise, and prevent unsupervised dips in a swimming pool. But the right fence also makes a strong aesthetic statement, improving a home’s curb appeal.
Why wood? – Cost, maintenance, and longevity?
It’s inexpensive and lightweight, to be sure, but so is chain link. The main reason is that a wood fence can easily be shaped to give properties character and individuality. You can choose from dozens of styles, including linear post-and-rail and crisscrossing lattice, as well as myriad picket patterns and post-cap designs. And you can stain the wood to make it pop out or recede from the landscape as either a vibrant or subtle frame for what’s behind it.
On the following slides, see some of the forms a wood fence can take, and learn the basics of buying, installing, and maintaining it. Take the time now to carefully consider your choice; if you follow our tips, you’ll be looking at that fence—and enjoying it—for many years to come.
It lasts about 20 years, if made of rot-resistant wood. Then posts are usually the first to go; panels survive longer because they typically don’t touch the ground. Posts should be plumbed and tamped every three years or so. If the wood has a coating, the schedule varies; clear toners and waterproofers need annual refreshing, semitransparent stains last three to four years, and solid-color stains go five to seven. Paint is not recommended.
Which Wood Type?
|Cypress||From southern swamps, this tan relative of redwood is stable and sap-free. Can have small, tight knots.|
|Douglas Fir||This strong, northwestern softwood is stable and sap-free in clear, vertical-grain cuts. Less rot resistant than red cedar and redwood.|
|Eastern White Cedar||Grows from New England to Minnesota. Stable and sap-free with small, tight knots.|
|Redwood||Premium western softwood that’s stable and sap-free. Clear grades like this are costly.|
|Southern Yellow Pine||A thrifty choice that has to be treated to resist rot and insects and to remove sap.|
|Western Red Cedar||A Pacific Northwest wood with superior rot and insect resistance. Stable and sap-free.|
|Lattice||Gardens, decks, patios, pools.||Crisscrossing strips of lath obscure the view while allowing air and light to pass through. A perfect screen for climbing plants.|
|Louver||Pools, decks, parking pads, patios.||Vertical louvers or staggered boards afford privacy when viewed straight on but allow airflow and open views from the side.|
|Picket||Front yards, gardens, pool enclosures.||Usually 3 to 4 feet high, these fences are named for their widely spaced pointy-topped pickets, which discourage climbing and shed raindrops.|
|Post and Rail||Boundaries, enclosing fields.||This inexpensive fence, traditionally used for penning livestock, also makes a bold demarcation between properties.|
|Vertical Board||Nosy neighbors, wind and noise protection.||Overlapped or butted edge to edge, tall vertical boards ensure privacy. They also block the wind, a good thing in winter but not so much in summer.|