February 26th, 2023
Cedar vs Pine Fence
Fencing is a significant investment, and it's essential to make an informed decision when choosing the right materials for your fence. Two of the most popular materials in the DFW area are pressure-treated pine and cedar. Both are durable, resistant to rot and pests, and can be stained. However, each material has its pros and cons, and it's essential to understand the differences to make the best choice for your needs.
Pressure-Treated Pine: A Cost-Effective Option Pressure-treated pine is a type of wood that has been chemically treated with a preservative to protect it from rot and insects. This material is significantly less expensive than cedar, making it a cost-effective option for many homeowners. The treated pine is stronger than cedar, which makes it a durable option for fencing. However, it's essential to note that treated pine is delivered wet, and it will require some time to dry before it can be stained. Additionally, this material is prone to warping, twisting, and cracking, which can affect the appearance of your fence over time. To solve these issues, there is a product called KDAT or kiln-dried after treatment lumber, which is kiln-dried after the treatment process and less prone to warping and twisting. However, this product costs more than the traditional treated pine but less than cedar.
Cedar: A Timeless Material Cedar is a popular choice for fencing due to its natural resistance to insects. This wood is known for its tannin oils, which insects do not like, making it an ideal choice for pest resistance. Cedar is also a lightweight wood, which is beneficial for the structure of your fence. Unlike treated pine, cedar has a beautiful natural appearance and does not need to be stained. Staining is a protective process that can add to the durability and longevity of a fence. However, a cedar fence can be treated shortly after installation for added protection. If you are looking for a high-quality fence that will last a long time and look great, cedar is an excellent option.
Combining Materials for the Best Results At Fort Worth Fence Pros, we believe that there is a happy medium when it comes to fence materials. Combining pressure-treated pine and cedar can achieve the highest quality fence at the most cost-effective price. We believe that KDAT is superior to cedar when it comes to fence rails and prefer to use this material for every fence we construct. On the other hand, we believe that cedar is the finest natural fence picket you can buy and is far superior to a treated pine picket. This way, you get the benefits of both materials, without having to sacrifice quality or affordability.
Picket Options When choosing pickets for your fence, there are some things to consider. Pressure-treated pine pickets are a cost-saving option, but they are prone to shrinkage and movement, which can affect the appearance of your fence. For this reason, it's advised not to build a board-on-board type of fence with treated pine pickets. Instead, treated pickets are best used for shadow box and side-by-side fence styles. On the other hand, cedar pickets are ideal for board-on-board fences, as they offer complete privacy. Rot boards or kick boards should always be made of ground-contact treated wood to ensure durability and longevity.
Pressure-treated pine and cedar are both popular materials for fencing in the DFW area. Both materials have their pros and cons, and it's essential to understand the differences to make an informed decision. At Fort Worth Fence Pros, we believe that combining materials can produce a cost effective and superior product.
If you live in an area with a lot of wood fences, you will also see a lot of broken, hanging, or missing gates. Wood fence gates take a lot of abuse, and most have not been constructed to take the abuse. Metal fencing tends to be stronger and has less issues. Here in North Texas, we use metal fence posts far more than wood posts. Metal fence posts can help reinforce a gate better than wood posts which can warp, crack, weaken, and decay like other parts of the fence. We’ll talk more about that. Vinyl fence gates hold up over time as well. Most wood gates are in constant motion, and they are constructed of separate pieces meant to operate as one. Hinges and latches weaken, rust, and fall off over time. A wood gate can last for decades if properly constructed but most fences are builder grade and are built with minimum standards of construction. A good contractors minimum standard can be better than a handyman-built fence but there are options to a higher standard of quality when you need gate repair.
There are quality wood fence gates that can be constructed, and it takes a professional who knows how to do it and is willing to take the time to build a quality gate. But, even a well-constructed wood gate will still have weak points. The hinges will be screwed to wood on the gate and on the fence. This is the weakest point in wood gate construction. This along with a well-constructed gate is a good option that can last for many years. The best option to build a gate that will last practically forever is to use steel fence posts, a steel gate frame, and steel fasteners. The steel fence posts will attach to steel hinges. The steel hinges will attach to the steel gate frame. The steel fence latch will attach to the steel gate frame. You can imagine how sturdy and long lasting this set-up can be. It should open and close smoothly for a very long time needing minor adjustments to get it back in line if it’s not closing perfectly. A steel framed gate should cost $250 to $500 more than a non steel framed gate depending on the size of the gate and not including the cost of steel fence posts. You may already have sturdy steel fence posts or have them priced into your new fence. If you’re building a new fence or rebuilding a broken gate, we think steel framed gates are the way to go!
Wood Fence Repair and the Tools Needed
If you’re just looking for the list of tools we keep on hand when doing fence repairs you can skip this and go straight to the list below. We may have more tools on hand but the list below is a comprehensive list of tools you can use to do all your fence and gate repairs. You don’t need to buy a nail gun you can use screws if you prefer as a nail gun may be the most expensive item on the list. As for fasteners, you can use nails or screws. If you are going to use screws we recommend an exterior rated polymer coated or hot-dipped galvanized screw for pressure treated wood. If you are using cedar we recommend double hot-dipped galvanized screws. If you are going to use nails we highly recommend using ring shanked stainless steel nails. We like to use screws to attach rails to posts and nails for fence pickets to rails. When attaching rails to posts you will need an 18d to 20d nails or 3-1/2in. to 4in. long screws. To attach pickets to rails you will need 8d to 10d nails or 1-1/4in. to 1-3/4in. screws.
Replacing some fence pickets is not a horrible task it might actually be quite simple. In general, nothing is easy but you never know you might get lucky. Replacing broken, bent, or leaning posts is another topic. You can do it yourself but be prepared for some work. If you have wood fence posts you will probably want to replace them with wood fence posts vs steel fence posts simply for aesthetics. If you are replacing a gate we recommend considering replacing it with a steel frame and steel fence posts. This is a gate that will open and close properly for a very long time. If you have a pressure treated fence you will want to use pressure treated pine for replacement. We do not ever recommend using anything other than cedar for fence pickets but there are fences everywhere made of other types of wood still standing after 20 years. This article is not a course on fence construction, but we have covered some of the basics of fence repair and a list of tools you may need is below. If you look at the project and decide it's not something you want to pursue, call a local fence company they will be happy to get you squared away.
Post hole digger
Are Cedar Fences Good
When it comes to residential fencing in Texas, cedar is by far the most popular material in use. And if you want complete privacy, wood is still the most cost-effective option. A vinyl fence is a great option but vinyl fencing is very expensive, it is nearly twice as expensive as a cedar wood fence. Fences not only provide privacy if wanted but they can also define property lines, keep children and animals in while keeping strangers out. Wood is not the best security fence on the market. If your property allows for a chain link fence this would be the best fence for security measures and they’re reasonably priced compared to a wood fence. Cedar fences can be built for various uses and style preferences. Homeowners might choose from a shadowbox fence leaving some space between pickets, a side by side fence, a board on board fence, a horizontal fence, and a ranch rail or country fence, and a split rail fence. Cedar fence pickets and boards can be purchased pre-stained but staining is not necessarily needed for a cedar fence. Staining will keep the fence from graying over time and it will protect the fence and give it the best chance of lasting a very long time. Cedar fences generally last for 20-30 years provided it’s not destroyed by animals, weather and other such factors. Western Red Cedar or WRC has been the proven and tested long lasting standard for wood fencing for a long time. During the Covid pandemic WRC was in short supply and a new cedar was introduced into the market as a reduced cost alternative. Japanese cedar or CRC which is grown in Japan and China is a slightly less expensive alternative that has not been put to the test of time. It is wood and it is cedar, which is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects. But customers and fencing contractors will not know for a long time if this is a better or worse alternative to WRC. If WRC is not available, CRC is probably going to be your best option. If you have the option and funds to pay for WRC it’s going to be the best bet given the track record of WRC. For some cost savings customers will often opt to use cedar pickets, cap, and trim, while using pressure treated fence boards for runners and the rot board. This is a viable means to save some money while still constructing a strong and long lasting fence. You always want to use cedar pickets, cap, and trim. If you build a fence using treated pickets you will soon understand why we recommend against this. Pressure treated fence pickets will shrink, cup, warp and other such movements which tend to make for an unsightly fence. Cedar on the other hand is a stable and strong wood that you can build a side by side fence and achieve better than what is considered a semi private fence. Cedar is a stable wood, it’s strong but light putting less weight on the structure, it’s naturally resistant, and can’t be beat when it comes to aesthetics.
Fence Repair vs Replacement
The first thing you want to do is decide if this is a project you can take on yourself. Ok, now that you have decided you want to fix this fence on your own let’s get to work. The first thing you want to do is assess the damage. You can look down the line of each section of fence to see if it’s leaning one way or the other. You want to check the posts in those areas for being loose or broken. While you’re walking down the line of each section you can grab every post and assess the condition and whether or not it needs to be replaced. So write down how many posts need to be replaced and where they are. If more than 25% of your posts need to be replaced you might want to ask yourself again if this is something you want to take on.
Next you want to check the runners or the horizontal boards that the pickets are secured to. Also check the kicker or rot board which is the horizontal board (usually a 2x6) along the bottom of a fence and any top cap and trim work. Are any of these boards broken, warped, or something that you might want to replace at this point? If so, write them down by board size, where they are, and how many you need of each. Know that if any of the runners need to be replaced you will need to look at the structure closely to see if you have to dismantle the entire section and every picket to replace that runner. If you can replace only the runner by removing the screws and nails on that board only that would be ideal. Just remember not to re-secure any pickets that you are going to replace. Kicker boards and top trim can be replaced once you get the main structure back in shape. Adding a kicker board and top trim can add to the stability of the fence provided the boards are not so old that you can’t properly secure them. When repairing an old fence you are better off using screws in place of nails you will need the extra grip of a screw.
Gate repair is not so easy. It is just like the rest of the fence in that it’s wood and posts but you do add a little geometry to the construction when it comes to gates. You can try watching some videos on youtube and evaluate if you want to do this part or hire someone. If you’re handy it shouldn’t be a problem. Any of this repair work will take time, the gate is just another piece of the puzzle. You may need to replace the posts if these are loose at all. We generally recommend using steel polls for every fence and especially gates. If you want to build a gate that will operate the way it is intended for a long time to come, you will want to consider installing a steel framed gate as well as steel poles. You can imagine the difference as it can be significant. If you do have to remove any fence posts you need to know that this can be difficult without the proper tools. If you have a stubborn post you will need to use some leverage and again there are videos on youtube.
At this point before you do any fence repair, you want to consider at this point if the fence is worth salvaging! Are you trying to rebuild nearly an entire fence? If you are it’s not worth it. If you need to replace half of it, how long will it be before the other half needs repairs or replacing? If it’s worth salvaging you want to put together your list of materials needed including posts, pickets, runners, kicker boards, trim, post cement, gate hardware, screws, and tools. You can look on the internet for pricing and get a pretty good estimate of what the materials cost will be. If you think the fence is salvageable but you’re having second thoughts about the amount of time and work needed maybe you want to bring in a professional to take a look and get their opinion and an estimate. Now you can see pretty much how much your are going to pay for labor. Many fence companies will have a minimum charge before they will come out. Most companies will have a minimum anywhere between $1500 to $3000. Anything less can probably be handled by a handyman. Handymen are not always the best option when it comes to gate construction. If you have some minor work needing repairs like replacing a few pickets, a handyman will be your best option.
If you need significant work and don’t want to replace an entire fence, let a professional fencing contractor come out and look at it.