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Installing a wooden fence is a big project. Most people realize the expense of the fence posts, pickets and rails but may fail to take into account the price of gates, hardware and sealant. The costs can vary widely depending on the size of the fence and its height; taller fences can be quite a bit more costly. Even the type of wood used can influence the overall cost of the job.
Not all wood is created equal. Pine, cedar and cypress are common choices for fence building with cedar and cypress costing more than lower-quality pine. Because of how the woods themselves differ, some builders recommend using pine for the posts and cedar for the pickets to maximize overall durability and longevity. The reason behind this is that treated, decay-resistant pine performs better in the ground while cedar is more resist to the effects of sun and rain. The lower expense of pine fence posts compared to cedar posts that cost twice as much can make a difference in the project budget without compromising quality.
Redwood is another choice, although it is far more expensive than other options. The primary advantage redwood has is aesthetic value, although it must be stained or treated to avoid turning grey with age and exposure. In the short term, redwood is certainly more eye-catching than other natural woods.
Wood Fence Sealants
In addition to painting or staining, it's always a good idea to apply waterproof sealant to a wooden fence to protect it from the elements. The sealant is applied after a stain or alone. In general, most sealants should be reapplied every six to 24 months, depending on manufacturer recommendations. Clear products are the most common, although sealants with pigment are growing in popularity.
Size in Linear Feet
The length of a fence, usually given in linear feet, is another factor that determines the overall cost of the project. Longer fences cost more, of course, but polygonal fences that are not square or rectangular involve additional costs associated with more posts, hardware and labor. These must be factored into the budget for the project.
Height of the Fence
The height of the fence also affects the project expenses with shorter fences costing less than taller ones. The difference between 6-foot and 8-foot pine pickets, both popular heights for privacy fences, varies from a few pennies per individual picket to much more than that; however, even those few cents will add up, especially for longer fences.
Homeowners should ask themselves how much fence they really need. For those trying to fence in the family dog, few small dogs can leap a 6-foot fence, but without proper precautions, digging underneath is a possibility best thwarted with the installation of reinforcing bar. For those who are seeking to block road noise or prying neighbors, 8-foot fences might prove the better choice, depending on the topography of the lot.
As a rule, gates cost more than standard paneling but are a useful feature, even for fenced areas that are accessible through the exterior door of the home. In addition to function, gates can also be decorative showpieces that significantly enhance the appeal of the fence. As a rule of thumb, gate costs start at about 25 percent more than a single panel of the same material.
Gates do not necessarily need to be made of wood. They can be constructed from wrought iron, chain link or mixed materials, some of which are harder on the budget than others. For gates facing the front of a property, spending extra can add curb appeal. For rear- or side-facing gates, this is a place where some money could be saved by choosing a lower-cost option such as chain link or a plain wooden gate.
The size of the gate required also influences the price. In general, a standard gate is 4 feet wide. Gates large enough to move a vehicle through can cost much more, especially for automated driveway gates. For most yards, a standard gate works well and will generally accommodate a wheelbarrow and riding lawnmower if necessary.
Lattice work, post caps and fence toppers are popular add-on items for wooden fences, giving them more individuality and flair. Of these options, fence panels with lattice work are the most expensive; however, they add height and style to the fence. It isn't uncommon for lattice work to double the price per panel. Generally, the more complex the design, the more expensive the panel will be.
Post caps and fence toppers can be somewhat more affordable, depending on the type and number used in the project. At the high end of the range are products such as solar-powered post caps for illumination.
Fence toppers include rails for the top of the fence to give it a more finished appearance. These cost a few dollars per section depending on the wood type, length and widths required, and beam ends make the rail even more polished-looking. Lattice fence toppers are also available as an alternative to pre-assembled latticed panels.
Cost Considerations for Wood Fencing
A number of important factors go into calculating the final cost of a wood fence. These include the length and height of the fence, the type of wood used in construction, and the cost of the gates and other features or additions such as post caps and lattice work. Because of this variety, it is possible to have a fence built that fits into many budgets from luxury options to more basic, cost-saving choices.