Can You Build a Fence With Wet Wood?


We all have had those days when the weather doesn’t seem to cooperate with us or our home repair plans. Rain is a big culprit, so I once looked into the practicality of still getting a wet wood project done for my fence.

Technically, you can build the fence with wet wood (excluding redwood), but you should not start setting your fence in place till the wood is dry and you are working in dry conditions.

Here are some things the experts have learned while trying to build their fences with wet wood or in rainy conditions.

Disadvantages:

Before we really get going, we should really get the caveats out of the way. Technically, you can work with wet wood, but it can be rather difficult and there are a lot of easier options out there. Here are some common dealbreakers people run into while working with wet wood.

If you’d rather not deal with this and go the easy way out, check out the video below on an easy way to dry wet wood. Experts recommend simply just drying the wood if at all possible because so you don’t have to jump through so many hoops, so if you can do it!

You are not able to build fences with power tools. The water will ooze out as you drill into the wet wood, which is not good for your work project and can prove to be very unsafe! With pure, wet wood whether you like it or not you will have to go to the old school method.

People have realized that working with wet wood is very slippery, even without the rain. Wet wood has bits of water seeped into every crevice of the board, which means you will be working with water-no matter what.

Wood is also hard to cut when it is wet. Wet wood always equals heavier wood, which means you will need to use better equipment than you would usually use to make it durable.

Wet wood is more prone to deterioration. Generally speaking, working with wet wood usually does not work too well long term. Wet wood is very easily prone to warping, cracking, or rotting over even short periods of time. Source

Generalized wet redwood posts are not compatible with fence projects. Veterans have noted that working with this type of wood can have a lot more water seeped inside it, which makes it next to impossible to accomplish the task well. Source

Preparing For Your Project:

Congrats! You have passed the hardest part of the article, it is simply smooth sailing from here. Here are some tips that others have found as they prepared for a successful fence-building day.

Use pressure-treated posts! Pressure-treated posts have remaining chemicals for when they were treated so they are a lot easier to work with.

Plan ahead for the weather. Avoid rain at all costs, and especially downpours! It simply makes the wood a lot more heavy and more prone to technical issues in the future.

Make sure you are not working with timber! Timber has properties that make it almost impossible to work well under deep water.

Check for rot. The typical test homeowners use to check for rot is to press a thin knife on the wood. If it penetrates the wood deeply, then it is rotten (don’t use it). Source

Be sure to choose types of wood that can help you long term.

The types of wood that are naturally resistant (and commercially available in most hardware stores) include black locust wood, teak wood, pipe wood, California redwood (different than typical redwood), and bald cypress wood. These have the highest resistance to rot over time. Source

Executing Your Project:

Be sure to get some extra help! As you can see above, working with wet wood is not easy, and teamwork makes the dream work! Beneficial ways others can help is by bracing the wood together and eliminating excess water that comes up.

Treated wood has a lot of moisture, so be ready for that and test it out beforehand. Do a test run and see how drilling nails/screws react with the wood.

Make sure to jam-pack your fence with support as you build it, especially if you need had just set your wood (when it was dry). Water makes it seem like it is more durable when it is really not, so don’t be fooled.

Drying Wet Wood:

If you are unsure, uneasy, or simply don’t want to put in a fence under your wet conditions, I totally get it! Here are a couple of methods on how you can dry your wood easily.

The Firepit Method:

This simple, one minute video is a quick way to dry wet wood, especially if you don’t really care as much about the aesthetic of your fence (or if you will eventually paint over it). Check it out!

The At-Home Method

I have found this online and it seems to be very practical. These steps are structured if you would like to dry your wood inside. All you will need is a readily open space, a dehumidifier (if extremely wet), and some kind of electric heater!

Steps:

  1. Make sure there is no other water around. You would think that this is self-explanatory, but you would be surprised.
  2. Expose the wood to a spot where it can easily dry. You could do this either indoors next to a window or anywhere where the wood would not just grow damper
  3. Circulate the air! Open windows, turn on fans, and simply do everything you can to make the wood easier to dry!
  4. Use Electric Heaters. Some use propane, but that simply would not be beneficial for the intent of this project. If you can’t do it, ask a friend and use their heater!
  5. Run a dehumidifier (only needed if extremely wet). It has proven to be beneficial in floods and other wet situations, so if you’re wood just won’t dry, that will help! Source

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