Fences For A Better Yard

Many homeowners want the privacy of fencing, which is often mandatory in neighborhoods with houses close together. Most privacy fences are made of wood and installed at six or eight foot heights. Some of the solid wood options for fences include Southern Yellow Pine, Cedar, and Redwood. In order to ward off insects, fungal decay and microorganisms, the pine wood should be “pressure-treated”. This will increase the life of the fence for up-to-15-20 years, with continued maintenance.

Considerations Before Installation:

Wood Types shadow-box fence

  • Southern Yellow Pine is a popular soft wood, pale in color and usually pressure-treated to resist rot and termites.
  • Cedar naturally resists moisture, rot and insects. It’s easy to seal or stain. If left untreated, it weathers to a gray.
  • Redwood is insect- and rot-resistant. It contains little or no pitch or resins, so it absorbs and retains stains very well.


Should be metal, set in high-strength concrete. Six-foot-high fences usually have posts set eight feet apart while eight-foot-high fences require narrower spans for strength. Many municipalities do not approve of wooden posts due to their limited durability and strength.


Should be galvanized or stainless steel. Standard steel fasteners will cost less but will corrode up to five times faster and cause rusty stains on the fencing.

Backer Rails

Should be 2 x 4 rather than the 2 x 3 size, which can sag over time. Six-foot fences include three rails, while an eight-foot fence needs four backer rails for support.

Fence Design

Some of the most common fence patterns include:

  • Dog Ear – A simple traditional fence design. Picket tops are cut off at an angle, providing a ‘dog-ear’ to the fence picket.
  • Board on Board – Creates greater privacy, as the boards overlap, covering the space between each picket.
  • Shadow Fence – Allows more light to show through the fence with boards staggered on both sides of the backer rails.


Occurs naturally after the installation of the wood fence and can take three weeks to six months to dry out. It will dry much faster in the hot 100 degree temperatures than in the cool and rainy months. The wood should be completely dried out before staining. If the lumber is wet from water or treatment chemicals, the stain will not penetrate into the lumber to give you the desired color or protection. Sealing that moisture into the lumber can cause the lumber to expand and crack especially during the colder months of the year.

Protection and Maintenance of Your Fence

Wood fences require protection from the elements to ensure years of durability and strength. Yearly maintenance should include pressure-washing and sealing.

Two of the most common questions homeowners ask after their fence has been built are:

  • Should we stain or seal?
  • When should we stain or seal?


Applied to protect the fence from the elements, keeping the natural color of the wood. It protects the lumber from weathering but provides very little protection against UV rays.


Protects against weathering but the darker the stain, the better the UV protection. Over time, UV rays can cause wood to bleach or lighten in color, but should not affect the functional lifetime of the wood. Sealer and stain can be combined for a single application.

Color for Design

When choosing a stain for your fence, consider the stain color in comparison to your home. If you want to see the grain and natural properties of the wood, consider a semi-transparent stain. If the lumber has a fair amount of “defects” such as knots or chips, then you might choose a darker solid-colored stain to conceal the defects.

Kathi-FleckKathi Fleck and her husband Don created LoneStar Property Solutions in 2007. Their goal was to provide their clients with a great remodeling experience: high quality workmanship, reasonable rates, and exceptional customer service.  When Kathi isn’t managing her clients’ dream projects she’s busy teaching classes on remodeling for homeowners and helping them understand the process of undertaking a remodel and how to coordinate all of the elements. Kathi also writes articles several times a month related to remodeling and you can find those articles on the LoneStar Property Solutions website.  You can check out Kathi and LoneStar Property Solutions on Facebook, Twitter, and Houzz!

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