Wooden Fence Post Buying Guide: Choosing Suitable Wood Posts for a Long-Living Fence
Authored by Carol J. Alexander
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Authored by Carol J. Alexander
Choosing the right wood for your fence is the difference between spending the time to replace it every couple of years and kicking back and enjoying life for the next 20. After all, every species of wood is not conducive to the life of a fence post–buried in the ground, subjected to the weather, and pierced with staples, nails, and barbed wire.
When considering a suitable wood, think about where you live. Do you get heavy rains or live in a dry climate? Do you have extreme temperatures? And what about wood-boring insects? Some wood species are more suitable for wet conditions. Others resist insects. Choosing a wood species conducive to your conditions will save you money and time in the long run.
Your budget also dictates the type of wood you’ll use. Though some species are more resilient, they’re more expensive. The following six wood species are those best suited for fence posts. Here, we discuss their key features, benefits and typical lifespans.
Pressure-treated pine will last longer than any wooden post you can buy. Pressure-treated wood is treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) to repel insects, prevent rot, and help it withstand the elements longer than non-treated lumber. When choosing posts, look for a label that shows they’re treated at 0.4 lb/cubic feet. Pressure-treated posts typically last 25 to 30 years and are your most affordable option.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, black locust is native from Pennsylvania to northern Georgia and west to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Although, you can find it growing in every contiguous state. If you live in an area with plenty of black locust, you can probably get fence posts made from this hardy tree for a reasonable cost. Untreated black locust lasts 20 to 25 years.
Native to the south-central United States, osage orange drops its telltale knobby yellow-green fruit in the fall. Also called hedge apple or monkey ball, the softball-sized osage is known to repel spiders. However, to arborists and woodworkers, osage orange wood is known to be one of the hardest woods in North America. This property alone makes it ideal for fence posts. Untreated osage orange lasts 20 to 25 years.
Best known for its aromatic properties, cedar is also a prized wood for outdoor use because it’s resistant to rot and insect damage. Typically, you’ll find cedar in outdoor furniture and decking, but it also makes a formidable fence. Untreated cedar fence posts last 15 to 20 years. Treated, they’ll last 20 to 25.
The world’s tallest tree, the coast redwood, grows naturally on the coast of northern California and southern Oregon. While not as hard as other options, the redwood is impervious to insect and rot damage. Untreated redwood fence posts last 10 to 15 years. Treated, they’ll last 20 to 30.
Another aromatic option that used to be used to flavor root beer, the sassafras tree, also makes a great fence. It’s native to the eastern part of North America, from Ontario to Florida, and grows as far west as east Texas and Missouri. Again, it's not as hard as other options, but the aromatic resins in sassafras repel insects and help preserve it in moist conditions. Untreated, sassafrass fence posts last 10 to 15 years. Treated, they’ll last 20 to 25.
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