What You Need to Know About Wood Fences


Wood has been a favorite residential fence material for over 400 years. Why wood? It’s inexpensive and lightweight, to be sure, but so is a chain-link fence. The main reason why a wood fence is so appealing is that it can easily be shaped to give individuality. You can choose from dozens of styles and you can stain the wood to make it pop out or recede from the landscape.

What Do You Need to Know About Wooden Fences?

Wood Fence Basics

  • How Much Do They Cost? – On average a four-foot-tall picket panel can cost between $3 to $75 per linear foot uninstalled. The price will vary according to style and wood species. Six-foot fencing will cost between $4 to $100.
  • Do I Hire a Pro? – If you are an accomplished DIYer with a strong back and plenty of time then go for it. Choosing to bring in a pro will get the job done quicker.
  • How Long Do They Last? – Wood fences generally last 20 years, if made of rot-resistant wood. Posts are usually the first to go and panels survive longer because they typically don’t touch the ground.
  • How Much Maintenance is Required? – Posts should be plumbed and tamped every three years or so. If the wood has a clear toner or waterproof coating, it will need annual refreshing. Semi-transparent stains last three to four years and solid-color stains can last five to seven. Paint is not recommended.

Fence Styles

One of the greatest things about wood fencing is that it never goes out of style. Someone will always love the natural look, feel, and smell of wood. It is an inexpensive and effective fencing material and is also flexible enough to adhere to countless fence styles. Some of the most popular wood fence styles include:

  • Picket: The picket fence is probably the first image that comes to mind when someone thinks of a wood fence. This style has characteristic vertical panels with spaces in between each one. The detailing of the pickets and the top outline vary. For example, each picket may classify as dog-ear, shapely Victorian, classic, or Georgian point. The fence’s top may be straight, arched, scalloped, or irregular. There are a lot of options to choose from for picket fence designs.
  • Privacy: Another popular style is the privacy fence. As the name implies, it is a fence designed to reduce visibility to the other side. Privacy fencing refers to either vertical board or board-on-board, in which each panel slightly overlaps the other in an alternating pattern. The detailing of the tops of each panel can vary.
  • Split-Rail: Split-rail fences are more commonly seen on decorative or rural applications. They consist of just the fence posts and two or three rows of the railing. They do not offer much in the way of privacy, but they do make the border clear and can have wire mesh attached to prevent pets from escaping.
  • Estate: Estate fences are also known as post-and-rail fences. This fencing is the heavy-duty version of the split-rail fence. They are durable fences that offer more privacy and add a touch of class.
  • Lattice: The lattice fence is a little more out-of-the-box. It is possible to have a fence with latticework instead of rails, which can work as a type of privacy fence.
  • Wattle: Weaving flexible twigs over vertical shoots turns an inexpensive, sustainable resource into a rustic-looking fence. Left natural, wattle lasts about eight years.
  • Crossbuck: A series of X’s fills the gap between the top and bottom rails. A ball-shaped detail on the post cap and where the cross pieces intersect adds a touch of formality.
  • Basketweave: Thin horizontal boards bent around vertical spacers create attractive shadow lines with gaps between each course to permit airflow. Must be built on-site.

Fence Guidelines

Fences need to look good on both sides. Those with visible posts and rails on the back and tidy boards on the front must have the framework facing toward your house. Out-facing framing is unsightly and makes the fence easy to climb, compromising your security and privacy.

  • Fence Height: The height of your fence will depend on how you plan to use it.
  • Corralling kids or pets: Three to 4 feet prevents wandering but is low enough to leave the view intact and to chat with neighbors.
  • Enclosing a pool: Code requires 4 feet, minimum. The maximum space between pickets is 4 inches.
  • Maintaining privacy: Six feet, maximum. Many communities require a permit and engineering plans for anything higher.

Wood Fencing Materials

There are a number of different types of wood to use for fences. Just as with styles, you need to choose carefully based on your needs, budget, and the look you want to achieve. The top woods used in fencing are:

  • Southern Yellow Pine: An affordable option that has to be treated to resist rot and insects. You also need to remove sap.
  • Douglas Fir: This strong, northwestern softwood is stable and sap-free in clear, vertical-grain cuts. Less rot-resistant than red cedar and redwood.
  • Redwood: Premium western softwood that’s stable and sap-free but can be costly to get clear grades.
  • Eastern White Cedar: Stable and sap-free with small, tight knots.
  • Cypress: From southern swamps, this tan relative of redwood is stable and sap-free. Can have small, tight knots.
  • Western Red Cedar: A Pacific Northwest wood with superior rot and insect resistance. Stable and sap-free.


Whatever materials, designs or styles you are looking for, we are here to help. Your wood fence will be a beautiful addition to your property so care needs to be taken when making these decisions. Call us today with your wood fence questions.


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