Types of Wooden Fence Posts and Rails
A wooden fence offers privacy and security, keeping unwanted guests away from your home. It also gives your yard a classic look that makes it feel cozy and intimate.
To keep your fence looking great, you’ll need to regularly wash it and replace warped planks. This will help you protect your wood from rotting and other natural damage.
A wooden fence’s posts serve a crucial structural purpose, firmly embedded in the ground at consistent intervals to bolster and stabilize the rest of the fence. They are also a vital part of the visual appeal of your outdoor space, seamlessly blending functionality with aesthetic charm. Wooden fence posts are available in a variety of lengths and pack sizes, catering to all types of fencing projects.
If you want to reuse your existing wooden fence posts, make sure that they can handle the weight of what you plan to build on them. This is especially important if you live in an area with heavy rain. The type of wood you choose is another important consideration. Some types of wood are naturally resistant to water and can withstand the effects of rain better than others. Cedarwood, for example, is an attractive choice that also resists rot and repels insects with its natural oils.
Before you start digging holes for the fence posts, use a string to draw the perimeter of your planned fence and mark each spot with wooden stakes. You will need to dig a hole that is square and at least 2 feet deep for each post. You can use a post-hole digger to dig the holes. To prevent rot and insect infestation, you should also fill each hole with concrete after digging it.
Most new wooden fence posts are pressure-treated to protect them from rot and insects. You can choose to purchase them this way, or you can treat them yourself at home using an approved wood preservative. If you decide to purchase treated posts, look for a grade that is high in CCA (chlorophene acetic acid). This chemical is effective at treating the wood and preventing rot.
If you’re replacing existing wooden fence posts, consider using metal posts instead of concrete. These are like the street sign posts you see on a city street. They’re made of galvanized steel and have holes punched regularly along their length to hold the rails. A two-piece bracket goes around the posts and holds them in place with nuts and bolts on either end. You can buy these online or at a home improvement store.
When building a wooden fence, you’ll need not only wood pickets and posts but several other types of materials. Learn what these are and how to use them to build a fence that blocks direct view, restricts air flow, and meets your privacy needs.
To ensure that you’ve placed a post at the proper height, pull a builder’s line (also called a mason’s line) across from one end of the yard to the other. If the line is perfectly vertical, the end posts are properly aligned with one another, and the anticipated edge of the last picket will be in the right place as well. If the line is sagging or pointing in a different direction, the end posts are not aligned with one another, and a correction will be required.
Fence rails span between the end or corner posts and create points to fasten fence pickets. They are available in a variety of widths and configurations, from a simple straight stretch to a more elaborate design. In the latter, the top and bottom rails curve down at the ends to give a more attractive look that’s more cottage-like than a traditional straight wood fence.
The pickets that make up a wooden fence can be made from many different kinds of lumber and other materials, depending on your budget and desired appearance. For example, 2X4 pressure-treated southern yellow pine, cedar, and other rot-resistant woods are common. These may be “dog-eared” and cut for fencing at a length of 6 feet, or they can be pre-cut in panels that are nailed to the backer rails.
Whatever type of material you choose, it’s a good idea to apply a wood preservative or stain before installing the pickets, especially if they are untreated or will be exposed to water frequently. If you’re using paint, an angled paint brush works best to get into tight spaces and around corners.
Before starting to build, it’s also a good idea to discuss your plans with the neighboring owners of any properties that are bordered by your new fence. Some communities require that you have a permit to construct a fence, and the neighbors may have a different set of requirements for their property lines. Finally, it’s a good idea to call the local utility locator hotline to determine if any buried services, such as water, gas, and electricity, run below your proposed construction site.
A wooden fence’s rails are the horizontal boards that connect each post to its other side. They provide support for fence boards and infill materials, such as pickets. Damage to a wooden fence’s rails can weaken the structure of the entire fencing system. Wooden fence rails should be made from a durable, weather-resistant material such as pressure-treated wood or woods that naturally resist rot, like redwood and cedar.
When building a new wooden fence, it’s important to carefully plan the layout of its rails. A rough sketch of the fence’s footprint can help you determine how many rails and posts are needed. You can also use this drawing to create a list of the materials you’ll need to complete the project.
Once you’ve planned out the layout of your fence’s rails, it’s time to mark the location of each support post. Start by driving a heavy stake into the ground a few feet past where you want to locate each end or corner post. Tie a length of twine to the stake and stretch it tightly to other nearby corner stakes. Then, using a mason’s line and a straight edge, mark a line on the ground that runs parallel to the end stakes, overlapping each one by about 6 inches.
There are two main methods for attaching a fence’s rails to its posts. A traditional and sturdy method uses mortises, or holes cut into the fence post through which the rails are inserted. A less durable method, used primarily for economical reasons, involves nailing or screwing the rails to the fence post.
Once you’ve attached the fence rails, it’s a good idea to protect them with a wood preservative. This will keep the wood safe from moisture damage and insects, as well as add a beautiful, natural color to the rails. You can find a variety of paints, wood sealers, and wood stains at your local home improvement store. If your rails are made from wood that’s naturally rot-prone, such as cedar, it is especially important to treat them with a chemically treated product, which will protect the lumber from damage.
If you like the look of a wooden fence but don’t want to commit to a full-fledged solid board structure, consider using lattice. It’s a popular design element that’s easy to customize. It’s also relatively inexpensive compared to solid wood or vinyl. You can even use it to create a gate or accent wall in your backyard.
Lattice comes in many forms, including vinyl, aluminum, and wrought iron. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Aluminum is the most rust-resistant and least expensive metal. However, it doesn’t withstand strong winds or heavy snowfall. On the other hand, wrought iron is extremely durable but costs the most. Regardless of which material you choose, the type of lattice you choose will determine the look of your fence.
The most common type of lattice is wooden, which allows for more customization options. You can stain or paint it to match your home’s color scheme, and you can add a picket gate for a more complete look. You can also choose from different types of hardware, such as hinges and latches.
Another great way to personalize your fence is by adding a walkway. Brick or cobblestone walkways are a great complement to a wood fence, and you can choose from a wide variety of colors and styles.
If you’re looking for a more modern touch, you can try laser-cut metal lattice. These are available in various sizes and colors, making them ideal for both residential and commercial spaces. They’re a great choice for homeowners who are interested in creating a unique and stylish backyard.