Redwood proves to be a durable and attractive fence material

People enjoy their privacy and fences can be the perfect solution if your customer isn’t interested in using plants to create privacy screens.

This doesn’t mean that a fence has to be generic and boring. Depending on your client’s location, you can create a beautiful fence using redwood as the material.

“Redwood is the material of choice for fencing in California,” said Charlie Jourdain, business development manager for Mendocino Forest Products / Humboldt Redwood. “It is widespread here because it is grown and produced sustainably here. It is inherently resistant to termites and rot, easy to work with, and has an attractive appearance. “

Advantages and disadvantages of fence materials

If your customer is trying to decide between redwood and other popular wood fence materials like cedar, pine, and cypress, here are some pros and cons.

Cedar is the material for residential fences. It is resistant to rot and insects, and has a desirable color. It requires regular maintenance, but well-maintained cedar fences are known to last anywhere from 15 to 30 years, depending on the level of care. It’s more expensive than other options like pine.

Photo: Barbara BournePhoto: Barbara Bourne

Pressure-treated pine is the most cost-effective option for fence materials, but over time it looks unattractive and is more prone to warping, twisting, and shrinking. Pine fences typically last 15 years or less, but with good maintenance they can last beyond that average lifespan.

Cypress is a popular alternative to cedar, especially in the southeast where it is readily available. It is usually cheaper than cedar in this region. It does well in humid climates and is also rot and insect resistant.

Redwood is the high-end option when it comes to fencing material, but it is cheaper than tropical wood materials. It is inherently resistant to insects, rot and warping.

“A redwood fence typically lasts 25 years or more with little or no maintenance,” says Jourdain. “Treated wood and cedar fences will have performance issues in half of that time.”

The main disadvantage of redwood is its availability outside of California and some western states are quite limited.

Fencing styles

Once your customer has decided they would like to use redwood for their fence, the next step is to determine the design style and function of the fence.

Some of the questions to ask your client should be, “What views do you want to keep or block?” “What needs to be protected from the sun or the prevailing winds?” “What mood are you trying to convey?”

“Redwood fences can use horizontal or vertical planks, dog-eared or square planks, or a variety of other profiles and designs,” says Jourdain.

When fencing, don’t forget about zoning laws in the cities where you work. Virtually all cities have fence height restrictions, and while some zone codes consider grids to be part of the fence, others do not.

There are four main types of fences: lattice, picket, board-on-board, and panel.

Engman Knottyrustic Retouch 6Lattice fences are light and delicate, while picket fences are usually no higher than three meters, offer plenty of air space and are better suited for decorative functions or as a barrier for small children and pets.

Board-on-board fences are a great option to keep an eye on the neighbors as they look the same from both sides. It can vary in height and offers good privacy and protection from wind and sun.

Panel-style fences are your time-tested option that provides a solid barrier. However, there are limited design options with this look. Alternating panels can add variety to the fence.

There are many other design variations of these four main styles, but once you know what your client’s look like, you can choose the right redwood for the job. There are garden and architectural qualities of redwood that are suitable for different functions.

Garden qualities are knotty, robust and economical. Architectural qualities are more suitable for decorative fences.

Garden qualities include Construction Heart, Construction Common, Deck Heart and Deck Common, Merchantable Heart and Merchantable. Construction Heart has knots of limited size and is suitable for posts, rails and fence boards.

Construction Common contains sapwood, which is visually dramatic on large fences. It works best in fence boards, trellises, or gates. Deck Heart and Deck Common are similar to Construction Heart and Construction Common, but are ranked by strength.

Merchantable Heart has larger knots and knotholes and works well as fence boards, posts, and rails in low fence projects. Merchantable has larger knots and knotholes and can be cut for rough or rustic fence boards.

Photo: Barbara BournePhoto: Barbara Bourne

Architectural qualities consist of Clear All Heart, Clear, B Heart and B Grade. Clear All Heart has no knots of the best face. It can be used on or near the ground. Clear is knot-free and is suitable for architectural fence panel construction that does not lie on the ground.

B Heart allows limited knots and is 100 percent heartwood, while B has grade limited knots and contains sapwood. It should be used for aboveground applications.

Redwood can absorb and hold surfaces very well, but does not apply lacquers, clear film-forming surfaces, oil treatments and “shake and shingle” colors.

“In fact, most people will never put any type of finish on their redwood fence,” says Jourdain. “These fences will naturally take on a pleasant driftwood gray color. Surfaces such as semi-transparent stains can slow down the weathering process, change color to match the home or other architectural element, and increase lifespan. These types of stains need to be reapplied about every five years. Redwood fences can also be painted to create a solid color appearance and to maximize protection from the elements. “

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