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What timber is best to use when building a picket fence and what timber to avoid


Picket fences are both a practical and stylish option to consider when building a fence for your house.


The openness of picket fences means they are the perfect way to welcome people into your home, while also maintaining the sense of privacy provided by a full fence. Plus, they have that classic appeal to them which makes them ideal for a wide variety of house styles.


However, despite the flexibility of the picket fence, there are some things that you should consider. The biggest of these considerations is the type of wood you choose to use.


If you choose the wrong wood for the project, your fence may be extra susceptible to damage, weathering and warping. But, the right wood will last you for a long time and will manage to keep looking fresh for years to come.


So, what are the wrong types of wood?


  • Untreated Softwood

Much like the name suggests, softwood is quite literally a softer type of wood and can be found in trees such as spruce, fir and pine (see below). This means that they may not be a great option to use structurally (like holding up a fence). Plus, the untreated version of this of softwood is susceptible to damage from insects, termites and water.


  • Untreated Pine

Although a cheap and accessible option, untreated pine is not the best option for a picket fence. Why? Pine is not very durable on its own (it needs to be treated for that). So, you can expect to be doing a lot of maintenance on your picket fence if you choose to use untreated pine.


There are lots of reasons that your fence may look a little worse-for-wear over time. By understanding what these factors will be for you (insects, weather, water etc.) will help you to decide the perfect wood for you.


Some of the best options for picket fences include:


  • Treated Pine

Unlike its untreated self, treated pine offers an affordable option for your picket fence. When pine (or other softwoods) are treated, many of the issues that amplify their deterioration go away. This means they are better able to fight off damage caused by rot, insects and water.


However, as it is still a softwood, there may be some additional maintenance requirements that pop up over time. But, if you are prepared for a little bit of maintenance, treated pine is a great and wallet-friendly option.


  • Cedar

Cedar is a naturally durable wood and has an in-built ability to ward off insects – its natural oils repel them!  Plus, cedar is resistant to rot and water damage making it an excellent option for those looking for a lower maintenance picket fence. The biggest downside to cedar? The price-tag. However, if you can afford it, cedar is a wonderful wood.


  • River Red Gum

If you’re looking for picket fence that looks fantastic with only a varnish, red river gum might just be the wood for you. Why? River red gum has a beautiful colour (varying from pink to dark red) and is super durable, so is perfect for a strong yet stand-out fence.