White Cedar Fences
White cedar fences are not known for their durability, but this one has surprised me with how long it has lasted. We built this 10-foot fence over 15 years ago from rough cut white cedar and though it has turned nearly black, it is still stable and strong. Being 10′ high with a retaining wall beside it, I am shocked at how straight it remained. Why did this white cedar fence defy expectations? 8×8 posts, 6′ on center, footings 5′ deep with 3′ of concrete in the base, and 2′ of screenings at ground level to keep the posts dry. Rough cut lumber is a full 2″ thick, and I think that must have helped– I will keep an eye on this one.
The way it looks it may last 25-30 years. On the flip side of the coin, the client was unhappy with how the fence looked and stripped off the headpiece that secured the posts at the gate (s), she didn’t like the look of it. She preferred not to have anything there, so none of the gates have worked in more than a decade. And the porch built by a competitor at the same time… It is ready to go into the bin. It all comes down to knowledge and techniques in the trades. Many claim to know–Few actually do and recognizing which is which is difficult for most homeowners.
Do White Cedar Fences Last?
Many people ask if white cedar fence lasts or not.
This fence in Ajax is 10′ high and has lasted 20 years. My suggestion is that if you are using white cedar for a fence, buy rough cut. You will pay less for the materials and it will last longer. Since White cedar is not as strong as red cedar or pine, the extra thickness will help durability. We use gravel at ground level and seal the base of any untreated post that goes in the ground these days. It all comes down to the design— Design a fence to last and do everything right, and it will last longer than you would expect.
Building Tall Fences with White Cedar
To make a large tall fence like this 10′ beauty last longer, put the posts in by keeping the concrete in the bottom half of the hole, and top it up with gravel or screenings. This enables the post to stay dry at ground level. Use plenty of galvanized nails and the nails should go 3/4 of the way through the support members. Nails work better than screws for any fence, so keep the screws for hanging your kitchen cabinets.
Keep in mind that white cedar will turn black in about a decade, so if you don’t like ominous looking brutalist architecture, stick with red cedar.