The Good Fence Guide
This month’s focus…wood fencing
Entry Level Fence – The Basic DIY Fence
When it comes to fencing in the garden, the most popular (and cheapest) option is to install standard 6 foot wide lap panels supported by timber or concrete posts. Widely available, these panels sold by DIY centres are often made with cut-price low grade materials. This keeps the costs down but the sacrifice is quality and longevity – buy too cheap and you are looking at just another temporary fix.
Most professional fence installers aren’t interested in fitting the cheapest lap panels because the inherent quality issues invariably end up back with them. So if cheap lap panels are what you decide on, it is likely that you will be installing them yourself, or finding a “handyman” to do it for you. Chances are, many of the problems you are having with your fence are because it was just such a DIY effort. Installed with the best of intentions perhaps, but fencing really is a product where you get what you pay for.
Once it is up – then of course you have to treat it. Even DIY panels labelled as treated will have only the barest minimum of protection. To stand any chance of the fence lasting you should set aside at least another weekend to coat your panels with an expensive coat of preservative. However the trouble with modern treatments is that they are water based – so from the very start they are not as effective as traditional creosote (which was banned because it contained toxic carcinogenic chemicals). This invariably means they don’t last as long and you will be forced to repeat the process every few years. It’s a big job that suddenly doubles in size when you realise that you really need to treat BOTH SIDES of the fence for the protection to be effective.
Close Board Fencing
Close board (or feather edge fencing) systems are the next step up. They are what most professional fence installers recommend to clients who prefer timber fencing. You could install these fence systems yourself but normally they are only available from specialist suppliers and their erection is not normally considered to be a DIY job. As with anything, however, there is a massive variation in service and standards out there. It pays to be cautious. Find a professional however and you will benefit from their experience of day-in-day-out fitting fences and remove much of the hassle. Rather than being supplied in complete 6ft wide panels, close board systems utilise better quality vertical boards that are nailed together, board by board, to form the fence on site. As they are made to measure they may be suitable for awkward boundaries. Many companies will treat the wood for you after set up, but going forward that is going to be your ongoing role. Treated regularly they should last – but there will always be a battle between the elements and the wood and nature has the odds stacked in her favour.
However you look at it, whatever you paint it with, a wooden fence will struggle to look as good as new even if you use the most expensive treatments. You can delay the effects of the weather but it will be a constant and potentially expensive time consuming battle.
The pros of Wood
- Natural appearance
- Value options available
- Versatile – many design & style options Can be finished with your choice of stain/paint
- Easy to fix decorations, lights and planters to
The cons of Wood
- (Annual) maintenance required
- Weathers quickly
- May rot due to moisture
- May warp due to moisture
- Can become infested with destructive beetles and burrowing insects.
- Posts liable to rot undermining the rest of the structure
- Wide variation in quality – of fence materials and installation companies
By Olly Daglish – Director of Colourfence Cornwall, a pre-painted fencing solution guaranteed for up to 25 years. For more information visit there website