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What wooden outdoor fence to replace split rail?

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Forum topic by opalko posted 03-28-2018 05:04 PM 2351 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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opalko

148 posts in 3455 days


03-28-2018 05:04 PM

I hope this is the best forum to post in…wasn’t sure. After installing 1,100 feet of split rail fencing 8 years ago, unfortunately, it is now time to replace it. The fencing was from a major big box home center and one I buy from regularly, but the materials turned out to be poor quality and downright defective in the long run. The rails and posts were “treated lumber”, supposedly, but nearly 4 years into their use they started rotting and falling apart. Now, after 8 years, most rails are broken in their centers where they rotted, and some of the posts are doing the same (the posts have held out much better). Here is a picture from when I started installation 8 years ago…

and one from recently that shows how it is rotting..

I chose a split rail originally for the look, ease of installation, and that because we have 4 large dogs I could staple 2”x4” welded wire to the inside and keep the dogs in.

What types (not necessarily fencing material) of fence do lumberjocks here recommend for something 2 people that aren’t in a hurry can install, will last hopefully longer than this one did, and can contain 4 dogs?


13 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4067 days


#1 posted 03-28-2018 05:10 PM

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opalko

148 posts in 3455 days


#2 posted 03-28-2018 05:28 PM

I should clarify I’m looking for recommendations on types of fence construction.

View josephf's profile

josephf

216 posts in 2516 days


#3 posted 03-28-2018 05:29 PM

well sure doesn’t look treated to me .i am not there .which makes all the difference .you do not say where you are ,kinda important in gauging my response .different materials different places . sujest metal post and some sort of hog wire .use green post . try home supply they should have green wire .it will disappear . simple and last forever .

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opalko

148 posts in 3455 days


#4 posted 03-28-2018 05:31 PM

Location is Mississippi. Yes it was “treated” lumber. By the way, the chain stopped carrying this fence about a year after we bought it.

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CRAIGCLICK

117 posts in 493 days


#5 posted 03-28-2018 05:41 PM

Well, I just put in 400 feet of picket fencing at a rental property. 4 foot picket fencing with 4×4 posts and the rails that the pickets are screwed into are treated 2×4. It took me 3 weekends working by myself.

Your best bet is to go to a lumberyard to get higher quality PT materials….but even PT wood needs to be sealed on occasion if you want it to last…and that’s a WHOLE lot easier with split rail fencing than it is with picket fencing.

-- Somewhere between raising hell and amazing grace.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4067 days


#6 posted 03-28-2018 05:42 PM

Chain link or wire fencing with steel posts
in concrete holds up.

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

737 posts in 1522 days


#7 posted 03-28-2018 06:39 PM

From a style standpoint: It seems that what you have has served your purpose nicely and it looks good. You just need to find better materials. To my understanding, there are at least two types of pressure treatment; one for above ground use and one for ground contact. I suggest you go to a reputable lumber yard and get your new materials treated for ground contact; including the rails. Then, as Craigclick suggests, apply some sealer periodically.

Perhaps, if not every piece is bad, by keeping the same style, you can just replace pieces or sections as needed.

View LesB's profile

LesB

2126 posts in 3862 days


#8 posted 03-28-2018 06:40 PM

There is more than one grade of pressure treated wood. One is for above ground and another is for below ground. So if you go back to pressure treated be sure to get the latter type for the posts.
The proper way to set fence posts in the ground is to put drain rock in the bottom of the hole and set the post on it, add cement and finish the top of the cement so it is crowned and slopes away from the post to drain any water away. You can even add a silicon sealer where the cured cement meets the wood if you are in a wed climate.

After putting up many fences I prefer to use steel and cement in the ground and bolt the wood posts to the steel leaving a 1” gap between the post and the cement or put a piece of asphalt roofing material between the wood and the cement.. Two lengths of angle steel that bolts to opposite corners of the post works well but straight 1/4” steel strap on each side will do. Western cedar, cypress, black locus, and redwood are among the most rot resistant wood to use.
The cheapest and easiest material to treat the above ground wood with is linseed oil (diluted about 50 with thinner). Apply liberally every few years. Partially depending on climate you should get over 20 years out of a good fence.

I also like Loren’s idea of chain link. There are some nice looking colored fencing materials out now. I have seen some great looking black chain link. The one problem with do it yourself chain link is getting it properly stretched tight.
I see a lot of PVC plastic fences that are quite durable but here in western Oregon they have to be power washed every few years to remove the mold and algae that grows on them.

-- Les B, Oregon

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opalko

148 posts in 3455 days


#9 posted 03-28-2018 07:19 PM



From a style standpoint: It seems that what you have has served your purpose nicely and it looks good. You just need to find better materials. To my understanding, there are at least two types of pressure treatment; one for above ground use and one for ground contact. I suggest you go to a reputable lumber yard and get your new materials treated for ground contact; including the rails. Then, as Craigclick suggests, apply some sealer periodically.

Perhaps, if not every piece is bad, by keeping the same style, you can just replace pieces or sections as needed.

- bilyo

Yes, I have thought about replacing the rails that have gone bad with new ones but I have yet to locate anyone in my area that sells treated rails. I have even considered taking treated 4×4’s and making a sled/jig to taper the ends off (that’s all these rails are)! Note that the rails are what are going / gone bad, not the posts…

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 923 days


#10 posted 03-28-2018 09:20 PM

Those old split rail fences were not treated for constant ground contact. Back then the treatment was “CCA”, copper chromium and arsenic. The highest you could get was 4.0 {not real sure what that meant} but 4.0 was the stuff everyone used around here for marine piers and bulk heads because it don’t rot, not even in salt water. I had the same fence at my old house and it did the same thing. I had a cousin that did piers and bulkheads and when he looked at it he said. “no wonder, it’s only 2.0”.
Our local Amish community prefers poplar for the horizontal boards and they don’t care what the verticals are because they dip the end that goes in the ground in roofing tar. If they can get it locust is the best, but that is getting tough to come by these days around here…too many Amish.

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bilyo

737 posts in 1522 days


#11 posted 03-28-2018 11:56 PM



Yes, I have thought about replacing the rails that have gone bad with new ones but I have yet to locate anyone in my area that sells treated rails. I have even considered taking treated 4×4 s and making a sled/jig to taper the ends off (that s all these rails are)! Note that the rails are what are going / gone bad, not the posts…

- opalko

Sounds like a plan. Your biggest problem will be making the tapers such that you can slide the new rail into the hole of one post far enough to get into the second post and then slide it back to center. Keep in mind that when cutting the tapers you are cutting away the outer part of the rail where most of the pressure treatment chemical is. This makes it more important to get rails rated for ground contact. If my memory is correct the main difference is that the treatment for ground contact has more chemical in the center. You could also use a brush on treatment like this after making the cuts.

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runswithscissors

3052 posts in 2444 days


#12 posted 03-29-2018 11:14 PM

The little plastic tag at one end of the 4X4s at the BORG will say “for ground contact” or “not for ground contact.” Not every sales “associate” in those stores knows about this, unsurprisingly.

Whenever I have had posts rot off, it was always within the top 6” or so of the ground. Everything deeper was blocked from oxygen/air exposure (I assume) and stayed solid. Mostly those were posts set in clay and rock soil, with very poor drainage. This of course is the reason for the concrete at and just above the soil level, tapered to allow drainage. I have never seen a need for concrete all the way down, except for once where the soil had the consistency of styrofoam beads. No amount of depth or tamping would hold them up in that stuff.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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HerbC

1801 posts in 3279 days


#13 posted 03-30-2018 05:45 PM

You’re in Mississippi, locate a local sawmill that saws cedar (eastern red cedar) and buy pieces of “heart” cedar to use as replacement rails. The sapwood rots quickly but the red heartwood will last a long time.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!

Herb

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!" http://lumberjocks.com/HerbC/blog/17090

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