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Product Guide: Wood

From rustic split rail to charming white picket fences, wood fencing comes in a variety of forms and finishes that make it an ideal choice for homeowners and business alike.

  • Wood is both a practical and attractive way to add fencing to a property in various applications.
  • Developments in treatment help extend the life of a wood fence, enabling manufacturers to provide extended warranties.
  • Wood is both an aesthetic and a durable option, with new developments in installation increasing the lifespan of fence projects.
  • Wood is appealing in its natural state, or can be painted or stained many different colors, making it customizable.

There are several different types of wood that work for a variety of projects, from the economical to the durable.

WHITEWOOD: PINE, SPRUCE AND FIR

Getting its name from the white appearance it has when first installed, whitewood is easy to work with. Pine, spruce, and fir are considered whitewood. These are especially popular options throughout the United States and into Canada.

  • Pine: Southern Yellow Pine is the top choice in the Midwest and Southeast. Reasonably priced, pressure-treated pine posts have increased longevity, typically coming with at least a 10-year warranty.
  • Spruce: Spruce picket fences are an economical way to create privacy. Spruce typically lasts five to eight years, but with proper treatment can last even longer.
  • Fir: Fir wood can last longer than pine and spruce, and is used often in rail fencing such as seen on farms. Douglas fir can last 15 to 20 years.

CEDAR: WESTERN RED CEDAR AND EASTERN WHITE CEDAR

Cedar is not only aesthetically appealing but a practical choice, as it’s durable and can be reasonably priced. It’s a popular choice in areas that are fire-prone as it meets and exceeds safety classifications in the majority of areas across the United States.

  • Specifications: Cedar fences should have at least a two-inch clearance from the ground. Posts should be inserted directly into the ground to improve drainage around the post.

REDWOOD

With proper care, redwood fences will also last a number of years. Along with its natural beauty, redwood choices experience minimal warping, cupping, or checking, making it a great option for various outdoor uses.

CUSTOMIZATION

There are many different styles that wood fences can take, including:

  • Split Rail – Inexpensive and offering a rustic appeal, split rail fences are often used as a way to note property lines.
  • Post & Rail – This adaptation of the more rustic split rail design is most often used in agricultural settings.
  • Picket – Low on privacy but high on aesthetic appeal, picket fences are regularly used for decorative purposes.
  • Privacy – A stockade style can be used for security and privacy purposes.
  • Personalization – Wood fences can be personalized with items like latticework and post caps and finials.
  • Latticework can top off a privacy fence adding a personalized touch to a simple structure.
  • Post caps and finials can provide architectural detail. Decorative and appealing, post caps and finials provide that finishing touch to your fence project.

SPECIFICATION

The American Society for Testing and Materials recommends the following minimum standards for producing wood fencing:

  • F537-01: Standard Specification for Design, Fabrication, and Installation of Fences Constructed of Wood and Related Materials
  • C5: Fence Post, Preservative Treatment by Pressure Process
  • C9: Plywood, Preservative Treatment by Pressure Process
  • F1222: Classification for Hardware for Wood Fencing
  • M4: Care of Pressure Treated Wood Products
  • PS 1-74: Softwood Plywood
  • PS 20-70: Softwood Lumber
  • TT-W-572B: Wood Preservative: Water Repellent

QUESTIONS

When specifying a wood fence,it is recommended that all homeowners, architects, engineers, and specifiers consider the following questions:

  • What is the grade of lumber to be used?
  • What is the size of the post?
  • At what depth should the post be set?
    • All posts should be set at 1/3 of their total length buried into the ground, depending on the fence style and surrounding climate.
    • Posts can be set into concrete for a long-lasting durability, extending the lifespan of a wood fence.
  • How many back rails are going to be used?
    • For a six-foot fence, three back rails should be used.
    • For a five- or a four-foot fence, two back rails should be used.
    • Use four back rails for an eight-foot fence.

Local building codes should always be consulted for the minimum fencing requirements in that area.