Wood makes a great material for fences. Although some people instead opt for newer plastics and other longer-lasting, low-maintenance materials, wood is classically beautiful and will last for decades with proper care. There are a number of different wood fences from which to choose, each of which has a different style and purpose for your landscape. Let's learn about the most common types so you can decide which one is best for your exterior.
In urban and suburban areas (and even many rural areas), the most common type of wood fencing is the picket fence. These fences are decorative, but are also meant to act as a property line or barrier from neighbors without being too private. Picket fences have posts secured into the ground every so many feet, with horizontal pieces of wood running between them. Slats of wood are then attached to the horizontal pieces to create the fence. In many cases, the slats have space between them, so it doesn't create a totally private yard, but that depends on your personal preference. The tops of the slats are usually decorative to create curves, arches, or other patterns.
If you want a little more division from neighbors, a privacy fence can work well to enclose your yard. This is also a good option for making a yard safe for larger dogs, who might otherwise escape over a lower fence if not chained. Privacy fences are typically around six to seven feet high, and they are built like a picket fence, but with no space between the boards. Privacy fences require a lot of wood, so they're more expensive than picket fences, but it gives your yard a feeling of seclusion, even if you're right next to a road or your neighbor's house.
Split Rail Fence
Also called "zig zag fences," split rail fences are great if you have a very large area to enclose and want a rustic ranch-type of look. With this method of fence building, you don't have to install posts. Instead, you need a number of long logs. Many people prefer a natural look, with some of the bark still on the logs. Working two layers at a time, the fence is laid with the corners interlacing, kind of like Lincoln Logs. The look that is created is one of two hands with fingers interlaced. Every time you need to use a new log for the next section, you need to change the direction of the fence 30 to 90 degrees to prevent it from falling, so you can see how this is only a good option for larger areas.
Spaced Board Fence
Commonly seen at the beach, spaced board fences are kind of like picket fences, but with a more natural and less traditional style. Posts are inserted into the ground at even spaces, and a longer board is attached from the top of one post to the bottom of another in a diagonal style. Slats can then be attached to this board with lots of space between. These fences are good for marking property lines and establishing traffic patterns, and they certainly can be beautiful, but they're typically not good for security and definitely won't keep most pets safely in your yard.
Wood for your Fence
At many home improvement stores and lumber yards, you'll find pre-made kits for fences. All you have to do is specify the length of your fence and choose your style. The type of wood you pick is important too, however. Cedar is one of the most common and traditional types of woods to use for a fence, and today, bamboo is growing in popularity, since this is a more environmentally friend option. Redwood also works well, as do whitewoods, and many places sell other kinds of treated wood to be used for fencing. Whatever type of wood you choose, make sure you understand its maintenance needs before you start building. Some types of woods will last longer than others between painting or staining. The type of wood you choose, regardless of your care, also helps determine how long you have to go between replacing posts and slats. No matter how well you maintain your wood fence, the weather eventually causes rot and other problems. This is simply the nature of the material.
Every day, however, companies are developing new and better plastics and other synthetic materials that look like wood but have fewer maintenance needs. While these options don't have quite the same natural charm, in the long run, they could save you a lot of money. Usually, fences made from wood are cheaper to install upfront, but over time, maintenance costs can really start to add up. With materials that look like wood, but are actually plastic, you'll incur fewer costs over the life of the fence.
Key Hiring Tips
From large to small projects, before you select any contractor be sure to take the time to properly screen them. The time it takes now to screen a contractor will help ensure success for your home improvement project and avoid problems down the road.