Is cedar still my best choice for wood fencing in Sioux Falls, SD?
Due to the limited amount of old growth cedar trees and tight restrictions on forestry throughout the United States and Canada, most of today’s cedar consists of new growth. This new growth derives from a cedar species known to grow quickly and yield very little heartwood.
In short: no. Today’s cedar fencing, harvested from sapwood, cannot hold up to its reputation as the preferred choice for wood fencing. Its quality and lifespan are considerably shorter than yesterday’s heartwood cedar fence panels.
What are my options over cedar?
With the restrictions and limitations on harvesting old growth cedar, the wood industry has moved on to more abundant species such as Douglas fir, white fir, and incense cedar. These species are in great abundance in older growth trees, providing more options for fencing boards. Because species such as Douglas fir are harvested primarily in terms of heartwood, they are outperforming cedar in the North American fence industry. So, while you may not enjoy that rich cedar smell, you’ll get several years from these wood fence panels. Besides, after a while, the smell of cedar is just too much to handle.
Is treated wood better than western red, incense cedar or Douglas fir?
Treated materials just can’t compare to the natural beauty of cedar and Douglas Fir. However, treated and stained white and red pine have proven to be an excellent choice for fence posts. Pine is very dense and provides considerable strength; when imbued with ACQ or ACQ2 pressure treatment, the wood becomes almost impenetrable. Treated materials may be easily stained, providing a darker color than cedar and Douglas Fir. The contrast in colors provides a nice combination.
However, red and white pine will form “checks” as the posts begin to dry after treatment. These checks consist of long, thin cracks running along the grain of the post. This is a natural process to be expected that does not compromise strength or longevity. You should only be concerned if the cracks form deep enough where you can see daylight on the other side.
Also, red and white pine posts are prone to slight twisting. Again, this is part of the natural maturation process of the material. This twisting is a result of uneven drying of the post. It does not compromise the quality or longevity of the post.
Do I need to stain my Douglas fir or cedar fence?
If you want to maintain that reddish and blonde cedar color, consider staining your fence within six weeks of installation. Be sure that the wood is dry prior to applying stain. In other words, it has not rained for at least a week. This continued dry weather will make the wood thirsty and therefore receptive to staining.
Only hire insured professional staining contractors. Staining is a messy, messy business that can easily result in overspray landing on your house, your neighbors’ houses, automobiles, etc. We recommend staining on calm dry days, taping off adjoining structures (such as homes, sheds, etc.), and laying a drop cloth to avoid overspray on the lawn.
Brush staining wood fence panels is difficult due to the coarse surface. While the rolling-on stain process is easier, it tends to result in more runs and drips. Spraying is optimal if you have a good eye for when enough is enough. For the best results, first spray your fence and quickly follow-up with a brush to even out the application.
Stain should be applied evenly with large continuous strokes. Unlike paint, if applying more than one coat of stain, you must apply the second coat while the first coat is still wet. Otherwise, the second coat will not stick and eventually peel.
You should anticipate re-staining your fence every 2-3 years. Be sure sprinklers are not constantly spraying your fence. This will cause uneven discoloration. Though Douglas fir holds its natural color longer than cedar, both species will gray in six to twelve months.
What is the difference between sapwood and heartwood?
Made from the part of the tree featuring lighter-colored rings, sapwood is the “working” part of the tree. Water and sap flow through the sapwood much like blood through your arteries. While this part of the trunk is vital to the tree when it is living, it doesn’t make for very good stock for fencing and exterior applications. The reason is that sapwood contains a lot of moisture, shrinks considerably when dried, and is susceptible to fungus.
The inner, darker section of the trunk is called heartwood. Heartwood is formed from layers of “retired” sapwood and becomes the strong spine of the tree. Heartwood is the preferred wood type for fencing, as it is resilient to fungus and doesn’t contain nearly as much moisture as sapwood, which means it will shrink less when dried. Many mills that specialize in cedar actually remove the sapwood and use only heartwood.
Once the tree has “promoted” some of its sapwood to heartwood status, the sap will stop flowing through that part of the wood and the converting material essentially dies. As part of the conversion process, the pores will begin to plug up with organic matter which causes the cell walls to change color due to the presence of chemicals called extractives. The extractives are responsible for the rich character, odor, and colors found in heartwoods.
Should I use cedar or treated pine fence posts?
If the concrete footing is placed so as to shed water from the posts, cedar or treated pine is fine. American Fence Company of Sioux Falls uses premium cedar post or ACQ2 treated and stained posts. Though the treated pine posts are subject to checks and a slight twist, these posts have proven to outlast cedar. Cedar is less prone to cracking and twisting but it will occasionally warp. If not stained, cedar posts will eventually “grey out”.
Are treated materials safe for my family and pets?
Only use industry-approved ACQ treated posts. Stay clear of using CCA (Cooper Chromate Arsenic) materials. If unsure how the materials are coated, look for a tag at either end of the post or inquire with your fence contractor.
What about wood gates in Sioux Falls?
Only heavy duty 4” x 6” posts on the hinge side of your 6’ gate. We recommend three hinges per gate. Make sure all hardware is powder-coated to avoid rusting.
Will I have maintenance issues with my wood gates in Sioux Falls?
Gates are set with two independent gate posts on opposite sides of your gate opening. Gate posts are subject to unsettled soil, frost, extreme change in temperatures, and exposure to the sun: all of which can cause gate posts to change or move. Even the slightest change in position of the hinge post will result in an exponential movement of the latch hasp. Bottom line: your gate won’t latch because the latch hasp no longer aligns with the latch receiver on the gate post.
What can I do to fix my gates in Sioux Falls?
A standard drop fork latch will not be impacted by movement in your gate posts. These are the latches that look like two-prong pitch forks and move up and down. If you have this type of latch, you should be fine. Latches that use a horizontal rod that strikes or falls into a receiver when the gate is closed will need to be adjusted. Latches that look like a standard door lock assembly will also need adjustment. If you have either of these latching or locking mechanisms, you should request four-way adjustable hinges. These are hinges that adjust up and down and in and out. With these hinges, you will be able to adjust your gate to changing conditions.
What nails should I use for wood fence panels in Sioux Falls?
A galvanized or aluminized nail that is counter sunk to avoid popping-out is your best bet.