Desktop – Leaderboard

Home » How long will my fence last?

Posted: May 4, 2014

How long will my fence last?

mennodueckConstruction Questions

By Menno Dueck

A few years ago, Cynthia and Carl decided to fence their back yard. They studied How To manuals and watched numerous videos before digging the first posthole. At the end of the project, despite spending their vacation time and money, they were proud of their accomplishment.

Unfortunately, it now seemed to be falling apart. This spring they noticed posts were leaning and boards were twisting and coming loose.

Frost heaves, heavy rain, scorching sun are not fence friendly. I don’t know anyone who wants to redo their fence in a few years, so here’s some material tips for the ‘Do It Yourselfer’ or to discuss with people you hire.

Posts should be either pressure treated material or cedar. The general rule of thumb is to have one third of the post in the ground and two thirds above. For backfilling and compaction below and around the post, use loose gravel or concrete. Do not fill the space with the dirt or clay from the digging of the hole as moisture will be drawn to the post, causing rot. Over time, pressure treated wood will rot if exposed to enough moisture. Post tops should be protected with a cap, either cedar or plastic, which allows water to run off and snow to slide.

Rails, which go from post to post (and what you fasten privacy boards to) should be pressure treated as well and placed on edge to prevent sagging. Attaching them with brackets adds to stability. Privacy boards may be sealed or stained and should never be in contact with the ground.

Using nails may be cheaper, but they will eventually rust and cause you problems. Boards shrink over time and nail holes will widen leading to instability. Dipped screws are a superior product and much easier to remove should the need arise. Constant nailing is also very hard on the hands, arms, shoulders; screwing is gentler on the body.

There are many web sites, books and videos that give step-by-step instructions on building a fence, but if you don’t choose the right materials, how long do you think it will last? Do you want to take it all down in a few years and start again like Cynthia and Carl?

Past articles are posted on under Blog.

Menno Dueck

Ask Menno Consulting

Dueck Enterprises Inc.

Article Share