Fencing. Done well, it can add incredible value to your garden and property, making those relaxing afternoons with friends and family that bit better.
This blog post contains everything we think you’ll need to know about timber fencing for your next project. We discuss the best species, the current trends, how to install your panels and posts, as well as some top-tips for keeping it in tip-top condition!
The best timber species for fencing
What timber should I use for my fencing? Which species are on-trend?
Here are a few solid recommendations that you can’t go wrong with. Inform your choice by balancing performance properties, cost and project size.
The part of the fence it’s being used for should play a role, too — for example, some timbers are more suitable as fence posts than others.
Without further ado…
1. Western Red Cedar
A timeless classic that never seems to go out of fashion. It’s no wonder why.
Western Red Cedar is a beautiful, durable timber choice that can be at home in almost every garden. It’s also resistant to warping or shrinking, with astonishing longevity. Because the species contains naturally-occuring insect repellent oils, it’s ideally suited to any fencing project.
These incredible benefits do come at a premium, though — so be prepared to pay a slightly higher margin for your Western Red Cedar fencing than you might for another timber species.
What you may part with in terms of cash, however, you’ll save in terms of time — Western Red Cedar requires much less maintenance than some other species. Cedar also smells fantastic, which can’t be drawback on those relaxing summer days in the garden, can it?
2. Siberian Larch
Photo credit: Henry Woide Godfrey / Woide Angle Photography
Over the course of the last decade, Siberian Larch has become a very popular species for exterior projects, fencing included. Against both Western Red Cedar and hardwood fences, it’s a very good value for money option, yet still has great durability characteristics.
Therefore, for those with cost in mind, Siberian Larch is a solid choice. It comes in two grades: unsorted and sawfalling. The latter has more knots and therefore an even lower price. The species is also both very naturally long lasting and beautiful.
Similar to Western Red Cedar, Siberian Larch requires very little maintenance once installed. It can be left unfinished to achieve a traditional silver finish.
3. Hardwoods — such as Iroko or Sapele
Photo credit: Paul Newman Landscapes.
Tropical hardwoods, such as Iroko & Sapele, are strong timber fencing species contenders. They’re not only very hard and durable, but a very aesthetically-striking option. Tropical hardwoods are used for top-of-the-range fences, built to last — because of their hardness and density, their resistance to rot and decay is exceptional.
This does come at a premium though; expect to be paying a higher price for hardwood fence components. This may make it uneconomical for many projects, but nevertheless a species that shouldn’t be discounted.
Tropical hardwood fences can be treated with oils to guard against UV rays. This also gives the timber a more contrasting look, allowing the grain of the timber to ‘pop’.
What types and styles of timber fencing are there?
Whether horizontal or vertical, fencing can come in a variety of types. Your choice will depend on the level of privacy you desire, as well as your desired aesthetic.
For a high level of boundary marking, featherboard may be the most appropriate. For more decorative purposes, picket fencing may be better; there are also options such as waney-edged fencing, and overlap.
For something more grandiose, you may choose decorative fencing. This encompasses styles such as lattice fencing.
Installing timber fencing: tips from the trade
Once you’ve made a decision about which species and style you’re after, and want to install the fencing yourself, we’re sure a few tips from the trade wouldn’t go amiss.
- Measure the length of your garden to decide how many posts and panels you’ll need.
- Posts come in a variety of heights. There’s also the option to choose concrete posts.
- There are a variety of methods for securing the posts. This can include post ‘shoes’, cement or post spikes.
- As discussed, you’ll want to ensure your posts are treated with a timber preservative to prevent rotting (in particular, the part that will be in the ground).
- When planting your posts, you need around 2ft of the post in the ground; It’s best to mark this out on the post before planting. To each side of the post, there should be a width three times the space of the post.
- It may be helpful to use 6ft markers between each post.
- You may want to place a few inches of gravel in the post holes; this allows water to drain away — preventing the posts from rotting
- Make sure the posts are level across both sides; wooden stakes are useful here.
- When the posts are ready, you’ll probably want a gravel board to prevent the fencing from touching the floor, fighting against rot.
- Use stainless steel or galvanised screws / nails. They’re more resistant to rust.
- Always have a spirit level on hand to check your fencing is level once they have been installed.
- You might want to top off your fencing posts with some caps — but make sure they’re pre-drilled to prevent end splitting.
Timber fencing maintenance & paint tips
We’ve all seen those damaged, shabby, weathered garden fences — yes, timber fencing can look fantastic, but when it’s neglected, it can quickly develop into something of an eyesore. Here are a few top tips for keeping your fencing tip top, so it looks its best and is built to survive the British weather onslaught.
Treating your timber fencing panels and posts
Wooden fences can easily be protected from the elements with a coating of preserver or oils. A preservative with UV protection and inhibitors will slow down the bleaching effect of the sun, avoiding the silvery-grey aesthetic, if undesired.
Decking oil can also be suitable for fencing treatment. These oils come in a variety of colours, including clear, so there’ll be no problem finding the right one for your fencing project.
Depending on the level of exposure your fence has to rain, wind and sun, it’s a good idea to re-coat every 2–4 years. The more it’s exposed to the natural elements, the more frequently you’ll need to treat your fencing. Before recoating, make sure to give the fence a quick hose down as well as brushing away any dirt.
When it comes to fencing, the biggest rot threat is to the posts. Therefore, to prevent post rot…
- Use a robust timber species for your posts (if you’re not choosing concrete).
- Soak the ends of the posts with a wood preservative before planting them; ensure they’re given around 24 hours. A bucket may prove useful for this!
Treating damaged fencing panels and post rot
The age-old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ does apply, but there’s always something that can be done to timber fencing that’s already felt the wrath of the natural elements.
Small breaks in the fencing panels can usually be fixed by gluing split pieces when the wood is fully dry. If the fence panel has extensive damage, don’t worry, you most likely won’t have to replace the whole fence — simply the damaged part.
What if my fence has already greyed and weathered? A power washer can usually be used to reveal a new layer of the timber’s original colour, or if that is not enough, then our Owatrol Net-Trol will strip timber back to its original look.
How long does a timber fence last for?
This depends on a couple of factors: the species of wood you use, as well as the pre-installation and follow-up treatment. There’s no reason why a well-maintained fencing project can’t last for decades — regularly-treated cedar, for example, can have a lifespan of over 40 years.
How much does timber fencing cost?
This depends entirely on the size of the project, as well as the species used. Species such as Siberian Larch are more affordable, whereas those species at the luxury end such as Western Red Cedarcommand a higher price.
- Siberian larch fence cladding — from £2.25 per metre + VAT
- Western Red Cedar fence cladding — from £3.80 per metre + VAT
How high can I build my timber fence?
In the UK, there’s no nationwide policy; instead, fence height restrictions are set at a local authority level. However, fences are usually permitted to be up to a height of 2 metres.
At Duffield Timber, we stock all the fencing supplies you’ll need to get your project off the ground — posts, boards, slatted screens and protective oils.
Get in touch with our expert team to discuss your project!