Cedar Fence - Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the best type of material for a wooden fence?
The best and longest lasting fences are build with Northern White Cedar.
- Why is cedar the best?
The heartwood is resistant to decay, making it especially desirable for service in contact with the ground.
- How long will it last?
Cedar's natural resistance will give it a life expectancy of 15-20 years.* A comparable fence made with spruce would have a life expectancy of 3-7 years.
- Do the posts need to be treated?
No, tests have proven that dipping a cedar post in creosote will not affect the life expectancy of the post. Posts should go 36" into the ground.
- What type of joint should I use between the post and panel?
Use dowel-end backer rails, which fit into a drilled post. "Nail on" type panels don't have the strength to last.
- Should I use "backer rails"?
Yes, use cedar backer rails; either the rustic round rail, or the molded dowel 2"x3" rail.
- What are the best pickets to use?
#1 cedar pickets are 100% solid wood, solid knots, with no bark. The most commonly used picket is Stockade Picket which measures 2 7/8"x7/8" and will not shrink as spruce pickets do.
- What type of nails should be used?
Use either galvanized steel or aluminum nails. #1 panels should have 5 nails per picket (4 nails on 4' height).
- Should the panels be stained?
They can, but ordinarily a cedar fence is left unfinished to weather bleach naturally to a beautiful silver gray.
- What is wood "checking"?
When full round timber dries, the exterior surface (sapwood) shrinks faster than the inner surface (heartwood). The result is the familiar "check" which is technically neither a split nor a crack. Click Here for more information about checking.
*Extremely wet or shaded conditions will shorten the life expectancy of the fence. It is not recommended to set Cedar Posts in concrete footings, this will result in shorten lifespan of the post.
Identifying Picket Styles
We offer 7 Different Picket styles that are available in many different configurations. Such as Spaced (a gap between each picket, typically 1-3/4") or Solid (up tight to each other for privacy), Scallop Top (Concave or Dips Down in Center) or Reverse Scallop Top (Convex or Arches Up in Center) as well as 2- Styles of Cap Strips that can be added along the top of the fence. This allows our customers to pick a fence that suites their needs and blends nicely with your existing landscaping.
The styles we carry are Stockade Picket, Cottage Picket, Bishop Picket, Dog-Ear Board, Flat Top Board, Gothic Picket and Victorian Picket (Please See Below).With the exception of the "Bishop" Picket, all styles are available standard in 4',6' and 8' Lengths and can be cut to custom lengths. Stockade Picket is the most common and least expensive style. It measures 7/8"x2-7/8" and has a slightly pointed top and a rounded face. The Cottage and Bishop Pickets are a 1x3 Flat-board style while the Dog-Ear, Flat Top and Gothic Pickets are 1x4 Flat-board style. The Victorian Picket is a 2x2 Picket with an Apex Top, it is the only picket style that is available in Western Red Cedar, all others are Northern White Cedar.
Identifying Cedar Posts
We offer a wide variety of Cedar Posts to accommodate your unique installation needs. The most common post we use is a 5" Diameter Round Cedar Post. This is the least expensive post option, while still allowing for plenty of "heft" to ensure a long last fence. Our Round Posts are "Non-Tapered", meaning they are a consistent size and diameter throughout the entire length of the post. They have a rough texture to them, they are not as finished as our square posts but they are completely stripped of bark. Round Posts have a slight, finish taper at the top.
We also carry finish square posts in 4x4, 5x5 and 6x6 Size. These measurements are "Nominal Measurements" meaning a 5x5 post actually measures approximately 4-1/2"x4-1/2". Square Posts typically last longer that Round Posts largely due to the additional amount of material, however in some cases they cost twice as much. If customers are interested in square posts, we typically recommend a 5x5 Post. This size is close in price to a 4x4, however offers a much longer life expectancy and the more substantial post gives the fence an elegant look. This size post is also much less expensive that a 6x6. Included in the price of a Square Post are 4- Post Top Options (Please See Below)- Flat Top, Chamfered Top, Pyramid Top and Gothic Top. At an additional cost you can add a Decorative Red Cedar Post cap, please visit our suppliers website for available styles and options: Nantucket Post Cap
For determining what length post you need, first measure the height above ground you require and then add 3 to 4 Feet for the amount in ground. Square Posts are available in even lengths (6', 8', 10' & 12') while Round Posts are available in even and odd lengths (6', 7', 8', 9' & 12').
We stock all our Cedar Posts as "Blanks", meaning they do not have holes drilled in them. Our Fencing uses a "Mortise & Tenon" style joint, where a round dowel on the fence section fits into a drilled hole on the post. While we have a set standard for our hole spacing, not all fences are created equally so it is very important to accurately measure your posts hole spacing before purchasing or ordering materials. If you are planning on purchasing a "Drilled" post, please call and order ahead. See below for how to correctly measure your post.
Installing a Fence on a Slope
There are three main ways to install a Cedar Fence on a slope (or grade). They are Stepping, Racking or Straight (please note these methods also apply to Ornamental Aluminum Fence and Vinyl Fence). With Stepping the top of the fence stays level and each section drops down to keep as small of a gap as possible between the bottom of the fence and the ground. When you Rack a fence, the top of the fence sections angle down (or up) to match the pitch of the grade. This is the most common method we use for installing a fence on a grade. Racking the fence allows for very little gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground. When done correctly, the fence can have a nice elegant flow that matches the terrain well. Straight is when you keep the top of the fence consistent and level. This is the least common practice as it results in large gaps under the fence. We typically use this method if a customer is trying to maximize the height of the fence. Please see below for a comparison of the three ways to install a fence on a slope.