Archive for Wood Fences

Cedar vs. Pressure Treated Fencing Materials

Which the better fencing materials: cedar or pressure treated pine?

Western Red Cedar is the best lumbar for any type of board or picket fence. Western Red Cedar is the sturdiest and longest lasting grade of cedar wood. It provides the strength and stability needed for a reliable fence but is also soft and pliable for more decorative and intricate styles. Western Red Cedar fence boards provide a beautiful and durable solution for your fencing needs. With its natural tannins, Western Red Cedar resists insects and decay making it the natural choice for your fencing project. Western Red Cedar does not warp, shrink or split. A fence using cedar will have a nicer look after 10 years than a fence that used pressure treated pine. Western red Cedar is a light weight wood which causes less stress on the posts and framework, resulting in a longer lasting fence.  The natural decay resistance of Western Red Cedar comes from the chemical components (thujaplicins) found within its heartwood.  The natural water repellency and lubricity of Western Red Cedar comes from a variety of phenolic compounds found within the cedar. Cedar lumbar costs more than the fast grown southern yellow pine, but it is well worth the extra expense. Cedar should last 30 years or more and will stay straight.

Pressure treated pine usually originates from the southeastern U.S. and can be a southern yellow pine or mixed pine species. It is a fast growing tree. After this tree has been cut to size it is first kiln dried to remove all the moisture. Then it is bundled into tanks and a water based solution of micronized copper azole is forced into the wood fibers under pressure. This process makes the wood very heavy and gives it a dark green appearance. This pressure treated pine is guaranteed not to have insects or decay damage for 20 years. It is not guaranteed against shrinkage, warping or splitting. Pressure treated boards can warm and shrink as quickly as in a month after installation. It is recommended to use pressure treated posts and a Western Red Cedar fence.

Staining a Cedar Fence

When you decide to stain your cedar fence you naturally want a stain that will let your fence look its best, require as little maintenance as possible and give you a color that you can live with.  Many homeowners find the process of staining intimidating, here are a few thoughts on choosing the best fence stain brand for a cedar fence. The first thing you need to do is choose an oil-based stain. Be very careful on this count as both water-based, gel, and latex stains are available, but neither of them absorb as well as the oil-based ones do. They also don’t do as good of a job at offering your fence UV or water protection, which are the primary reasons for staining a fence in the first place. From there a lot depends on how you’d like the wood to look and how much maintenance you’d like to do on the fence. Transparent stains require the least maintenance by far. These stains will also preserve the natural beauty of the wood, allowing the grain to show through. They may fade a bit but they will last for some time. Semi-transparent stains will let the wood grain show through, but not some of the finer details. They’ll last a little longer than the transparent stains do. Opaque or solid stains tend to need replacement every five years or so. A solid stain visibly fades in 3-5 years. However, if you are concerned about having a certain color for your fence then this may well be the way to go, as you can get creative with blues, greens, golds, roses, grays, and other colors. Don’t worry if the stain says it’s a “deck” stain. You just need to be sure that it’s a good oil-based stain rated for exterior use. When you stain your fence be sure to add two coats of stain as this will help it last longer. You should also be sure to follow our guidelines on staining a wood fence to achieve the very best results. Remember, if you install a cedar fence it will need 5-7 weeks to dry in the sun before it will be ready for any kind of staining or treatment. Ignore this rule and it simply won’t matter what kind of stain you purchase because the results will not be what you hoped for! Remember to consider your location, whether or not your fence is in full or partial sun and other factors when choosing your stain.

How to Care for a Wood Fence

A wood fence can be a great way to give a home a definitive border and ad curb appeal to the house. Cedar wood works well for outdoor structures, such as fences, because of its attractive red tone, and its resistance to warping, insect infestation and rot. Over time, dirt and weather will turn the wood gray. Cedar can be stained to enhance the color, or left a natural shade. Proper care can keep the wood looking new for many years. It can also save you from having to make costly repairs, as untreated wood suffers more damage from the elements. But over time, wood fences rot away. Here are some ways to make your wood fence last longer.  Within the first year of installation, the wood may warp or split as it dries.  In 5-8 years the fence may start to lean but it should last 10-15 years overall. It’s impossible to completely prevent the natural weathering that occurs to a wood fence over the years. You can slow the process by protecting the wood regularly.  The stain you use to cover the wood must cover every part of the wood exposed to moisture. It’s also important to use galvanized or stainless steel hardware in the wood because these metals won’t rust and they resist warping. To prevent the wood from turning gray in the sun, use products that contain UV inhibitors.  Your wood will need regular maintenance at least every 3 years to prolong its life and help it stay strong and beautiful.

The first step in wood maintenance is to clean and remove all mildew. Spray the fence with a power washer with a pressure of 1,500 to 2,000 pounds per square inch. This level of pressure should not damage the wood. Keep the nozzle 18 inches from the fence surface and move the spray evenly over the fence. Do not linger too long in one area. The outer gray layers will wash off, exposing the red wood underneath. Wear old clothing and eye protection as the spray will bounce off the fence back toward you. Combine 3 quarts of warm water and 1 quart of oxygen bleach in a bucket. Spray the solution on the fence with a garden sprayer, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes. Scrub the fence with a scrub brush to remove mildew and dirt. Rinse the fence with clean water when you are finished. Do the fence in sections to keep the oxygen bleach solution from drying before you scrub. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Wash the fence each year in spring or early summer. Allow the fence to dry for at least 2 days after washing it before painting or staining.

Although it’s tedious and time consuming, it’s most effective to apply the product with a paint brush.  Traditional paintbrushes work very well.  Use a smaller 2-inch brush when working in small areas, between the fence boards, in cracks and on fence posts and rails.  Rolling the stain or sealant on is the least reliable method.  It leaves uneven marks that will need to be touched up.    After applying one coat, allow it to dry completely and then apply a second coat of paint or stain. When applying coats, complete an entire section at a time, without breaks, to avoid lap marks. If you have not painted or stained your fence, you will need to apply a clear sealant every year to protect to wood and maintain a strong seal against moisture. If you are staining your fence, apply the stain before applying the sealant.  Allow the stain to completely dry before applying the sealant. Bushes and vines should be kept off the fence. The vine will keep the fence moist and it will rot faster.  Avoid placing sprinklers or hoses near the fence to minimize any water damage to the fence.