It’s common knowledge that over time, wood can rot and decay due to weather and moisture. It’s not different for wood fences. So what can help protect them from the elements?
Sealants and Preservatives are the best way to protect your wooden fence. There are other precautions you can take to help protect it as well, depending on the type of wood the fence uses and how regularly you are willing to refurbish the material. With proper care, your fence can last over twenty years!
Fences are expensive to build and something that has to be maintained, so it’s important to make sure you know how to take care of them to help them last as long as possible. Let’s go through some of the best protection options for wooden fences.
The first step towards protecting your wood fence is to choose a material that will work well when it comes to both longevity and water resistance. Cedar and redwood are the two most popular options for wood fences. This is in part because both are rather resistant to rot and decay. They also both have beautiful, rich colors.
Cedar: Cedar is a more expensive wood but has many natural insect repellent substances. It is also more resistant to moisture and UV rays. It doesn’t need too much care when it comes to maintenance and lasts quite a long time on its own. The standard price for a cedar fence ranges between $3000 and $5000. It costs about $2 to $3 for a 6-foot picket. Source
Redwood: Redwood also acts as an insect repellant and can last a rather long time. It’s priced at a similar rate to cedar, if not slightly higher. It costs about $8 for a 6-foot picket. Source
According to the website Improvenet, “On average, redwood fencing costs approximately $17.49 per square foot. At minimum, homeowners can expect to spend $14.26 per square foot on redwood fencing. The maximum reported price per square foot for redwood fencing is $20.50.” Source
While pine is another popular option for wooden fences, it can’t last as long and is a pretty softwood. Cedar and redwood are the best to use if you want a wood that will last long, is rather resistant to moisture and offers great protection overall for your fence.
Pressure-treated wood is a common example of wooden fence protection, but definitely something you should consider for your fence if you can.
Pressure-treated wood is basically when the wood is put through an intense chemical process to help make it water-resistant and insect-repellent. It’s wood that has been infused with a variety of chemicals as a way to protect the wood from being damaged as easily by outside forces.
The process for making pressure-treated wood involves placing the wood into an air-tight tank and then proceeding to extract the remaining air to create a sort of vacuum. A chemical solution known as CCA is then added. CCA stands for chromium, copper, and arsenic, which are the elements in the solution. The tank and the vacuum allow for the solution to be carried deep into the wood.
When you go to buy wood for building your fence, there should be some sort of label or stamp on it to indicate if it is pressure-treated wood. And if someone else is building your fence you can work out with them what type of wood you would like to use.
While wood that has been pressure-treated does indeed ward off and protect against rot and insect damage, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be sealed still. This type of treated wood will help with many things but it won’t do well keeping out water on its own. It would be a good idea to still use a sealant of some sort on your pressure-treated wood every couple of years for added protection.
Keeping It Out Of Soil
While this may not seem like a big deal, wood can rot faster than you think when it’s put directly against the ground. If you keep your fence from touching soil, it will help resist decay and allow your fence to last much longer. Some ideas for keeping a fence out of the soil are to use concrete or kickboards.
Concrete is used quite often nowadays as a way to keep a fence steady and give it added strength, as well as protect it from wear against the soil. So when you are building your fence, after you have placed your posts in their holes, pour a ready concrete mix into the extra space and allow it to set. Leave at least a couple of inches at the top for room to place dirt if you’d like to cover up the concrete.
Using concrete will help to protect your base and the majority of your post from gaining damage from the soil.
Kickboards are something most commonly used on wooden fences and help keep them out of the soil so they are perfect for protecting your posts and pickets.
Sometimes called a “rot board,” kickboards are typically pieces of a specific kind of pressure-treated wood that are placed horizontally along the bottom of a fence and are in contact with the ground. This keeps your main pickets away from the ground and prevents them from being exposed to extra amounts of moisture from the soil.
Some other things you can do about your yard is keeping plants and sprinklers from touching your fence if possible. The moisture from plants can damage the wood if they are touching it and sprinklers can damage it as well. If you need to wash your fence at any point, try to put something underneath it so the excess water can’t soak into the wood by the ground or gather at the base of the posts.
This is probably the most common protection option for wooden fences and rightly so because it is probably the most effective as well. Wood sealants are protective coatings that provide long-lasting protection for wooden fences. They act as a water repellant and allow the wood to last a great deal longer than it normally would.
If you are planning to put a sealant on your fence, start by washing your fence. The wood has to be clean before you put anything on it. You can use a pressure washer to clean it, but you could likely damage your fence so use extreme caution. It’s advisable to re-seal your fence every 2 to 3 years to ensure maximum longevity for your fence.
Hire a specialist to help you put on the sealant if you’d like help, or even if it’s your first time getting it done. Standard guidelines are to let your fence dry for at least 24 hours before doing a second coat of sealant. For the best results, apply up to 3 coats. Water repellant preservatives and sealants typically cost between $10 and $20 per gallon.
Paint can be a good protectant too but it takes a lot more time and work to maintain. Another thing you can do is mix the sealant you pick with some sort of exterior stain. Although wood stains themselves are a type of sealant.
Wood stains are rather similar to wood sealants, they just have the option of bringing more color to your fence because of the colorants dissolved into the solvent. Most wood stains have the same water-repellent qualities as wood sealants. There are two main types of stains: water-based and oil-based. Oil-based stains are preferable for softwoods although they take a little longer to dry. They tend to be more durable and last longer.
The cost of stains typically starts at just under $20 for a gallon. Stains range from solid to transparent when it comes to color, so spend some time thinking about which one you want to use on your fence. Solid stains look more like paint while transparent ones are, just like they sound, clear.
Be sure to clean your fence before you stain or re-stain it after a while. Below is some information about stains for cedar and redwood, the most popular types of wood for fences.
Cedar: Stay away from water-based stains as cedar, which is a softwood, can absorb more than hardwoods. Many people don’t wish to cover up the beautiful color of cedarwood, so it’s common to use a more transparent stain on it. One of the best options out there for a cedar stain is this Exterior Transparent Matte Wood Finish found at Home Depot. Source
Redwood: Redwood is also a softwood so an oil-based stain would be the better option to use. One of the best redwood stain options available is this Penetrating Exterior Stain and Sealer also found at Home Depot.
Regularly walk along your fence to check it and inspect for damage, then repair it as needed. If there are any cracks, seal it up as fast as possible; leaving it open could cause it to get wider and allow water or moisture into the wood. Seek professional help if you think it’s needed to ensure the long-term preservation of your fence.
Wood fences can be difficult to maintain, especially as they begin to wear over time. But hopefully, this article has given you some good ideas on what options you have to help protect your fence!