When building a wood fence, you want the strongest, most durable material available in order for the fence to last for years. To help you choose the most appropriate materials for your reclaimed wood fence, The Lumber Baron created a quick reference of how each of the 4 most popular wood types used in fencing compare.
Redwood is one of the most popular types of fencing. The lumber contains natural oils which resist rot and insect infestation. Using reclaimed redwood increases the durability of the lumber because it typically comes from the denser heartwood of old-growth trees. The biggest drawback for using redwood is the cost of the material, but that cost is offset by the fact that fewer repairs will be required over time.
Like redwood, cedar contains oils which prevent decay and repels insects. Unlike many softwoods, cedar is likely to warp, which means less maintenance and repair resulting from exposure to the elements. Cedar tends to be less expensive than redwood, but it is also less durable over long periods of time. Because it is easy to work with, cedar lumber is often used for lattice fencing, picket fences, and other decorative fence types.
Douglas fir can be found in the same forests as redwood and grows to a similarly large size. It has a yellowish-white color which darkens to an orange color as you get closer to the heartwood. Reclaimed Douglas fir does not contain the same pest and rot resistant oils as redwood, however. For this reason, building a fence with Douglas fir will produce a nice-looking fence but will require repairs and board replacements in as little as a couple of years. Because it is more economical, Douglas fir is often pressure treated to increase durability and used for fencing and posts.
White oak is sometimes used as fencing material, but it is not generally the most appropriate choice. Because oak is a hardwood, it is more difficult to work with and more likely to exhibit splitting or separation after installation. Furthermore, oak has a tendency to warp due to extreme weather conditions. Oak has a nice grain structure and appearance but is not well-suited for natural wood fencing.
Keep in mind that the grade of lumber you select will affect the longevity of your fence. For best results, use select or clear grade lumber because knotty wood is going to have more vulnerabilities to moisture and insect damage. And while all types of lumber are more durable after sealing or painting, using lumber which is naturally resistant provides a level of protection which should not be overlooked.