Knock on Wood: The Pros and Cons of Wood Fences in St. Louis

wood fence

In 2018, the U.S. fencing industry made a whopping $8 billion in revenues. That represents a 6.4% increase from the past five years!  One possible reason for this boom is that privacy is a top priority for most home buyers. Younger shoppers with kids also want a backyard, but they want that area to be secure and safe. A solidly-constructed, beautiful fence can give them that and more. And when it comes to home fencing systems, wood fences are often the first to pop into mind. After all, they’re the classic, traditional choice.

But that doesn’t mean wooden fencing systems are all good news. There are pros and cons of wood in fencing systems, and it’s best you learn more about them first. This way, you can decide for yourself if they are a great fit for your property.

We’ve listed the good and bad aspects of wood fencing in this post, so keep reading!

What Makes Wood Fences Great

Wooden fences are beautiful, and they can make your home more private and secure. If properly maintained, they can also help boost curb appeal. This can then be useful if you have plans of selling your home in the future.

Beautiful, Timeless Appeal

Aside from stone, wooden fences played a big part in securing homes during Colonial times. That means we’ve been using them for over 400 years now.

It’s no secret that their timeless appeal is also because of their natural beauty. Stained (not painted) wooden fences highlight the unique grain pattern of each wood.

Availability in Various Styles

From the white-picket-fence style to a lattice style, wooden fences are available in many designs. You can also opt for the vertical board style for greater privacy.

They Offer Privacy and Security

The taller the wood fence, the more likely it is to keep out burglars and thieves. Also, if you’re concerned of peeping toms, a solid board (pickets touching each other) fence is the best choice compared to a spaced picket or shadow box designed fence.

They’re Part of the “American Dream”

With their long and rich history, it’s no wonder some homebuyers want a wooden fence in their future home. If you can make your fence look and perform as good as new, it might help you sell your house faster.

wood fence

The Less Likable Features of Wooden Fencing

As beautiful as a wooden privacy fence is, it can be hard and expensive to maintain. And you can’t be lax on its upkeep, as this can lead to safety and security hazards.

Why exactly is this the case though?

Prone to Wet Rot

Did you know that St. Louis, MO gets more rain than many other parts of the country?

That’s right.

On average, the city gets a yearly 43 inches of rain, whereas the nationwide average is only 39 inches.

This higher precipitation level can then make wooden fences prone to wet rot. Even if you have a rot-resistant pine fence, constant exposure to rain can rot away its lower parts. If your fence posts are also made of wood, wet rot can also damage their lower areas where the post comes out of the ground. Water can puddle on the ground around the post causing the post to rot at an accelerated rate.

From there, fungus — especially mold and mildew — can start growing on your fence. This can be a health hazard if you or anyone in your household is one of the 50 million Americans with allergies. Inhaling fungus spores can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks.

Even if fungi don’t develop, wet rot will soften the wood. This compromises the stability and integrity of the entire fence. Left unfixed, this can make the panels and posts sag and even collapse. The pickets can fall off the rails and the rails can fall off the posts as the wood softens lessening its hold on the screws or nails that are designed to be holding these components together.

Susceptible to Dry Rot

Back in the 1940s, residents of St. Louis, MO only experienced 10 super-hot summer days. Today, that has multiplied twice. The city now gets at least 20 very hot and humid summer days.

These high temperatures are the reason wooden fences in the city are becoming more prone to dry rot. The increased exposure to heat dries out the timber and makes them brittle. In severe dry rotting, even the slightest pressure can cause the wood to crumble.

As with wet rot, dry rot can also lead to cracking and breaking of the panels and posts. This then compromises the stability and integrity of the fencing system. Over time, this dry rot can make the fence components detach from the frame or even end up collapsing.

wood privacy fence

Likely to Warp

Because St. Louis is an “urban heat island“, it experiences huge temperature fluctuations. In wooden fences, these temperature changes expose them to various moisture levels. When this happens, some parts of the panels and posts take longer to dry than the rest.

The parts that dry faster are more prone to shrinking. In the long run, these shrinking areas are more likely to warp and get deformed. A warped wood fence doesn’t only look lopsided; it can actually be off-kilter and unstable.

A Haven for Pests

Termites cost the U.S. about $5 billion in damages every year. They love damp wood, so if you have wet rot in your fence, they’re sure to eat away at it. That can then hasten the degradation of your fence.

There are also carpenter bees that drill holes in wooden structures. They don’t eat the wood itself, but they do live and create their nest inside the holes they bore. They also defecate on the surface right below these holes, causing ugly stains.

Your Top Alternatives to Wooden Fences

As you can see, wooden fences have a lot of downsides too. That’s why to choose the right home fencing system, you need to consider the maintenance level too.

You want a beautiful fence, but you also want it to be affordable and low-maintenance. It should be more weather and bug resistant.

The good news is, you now have plenty of low-maintenance fencing choices, such as vinyl. And we’re not talking about cheap-looking plastic. Take a look below to learn more about your choices outside of wooden fences.

vinyl privacy fence

Vinyl Fences Made to Look Like their Wooden Versions

Quality vinyl fences are a great choice if you want durable and rot-resistant fencing. These fences use Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), making them very hard and strong. Best of all, this material is widely available, which is why vinyl fences are affordable.

Since they’re of “plastic” composition, you don’t have to worry about dry or wet rot. They also don’t make great food or home for pests, unlike wood. But you can have a PVC fence made to look like a wooden fence!

Ornamental Aluminum for a More Modern Look

An aluminum fencing system is a great way to give your home a modern feel and aesthetic boost. Made of ornamental aluminum, you can choose from a wide range of colors from black to green and even bronze. They’re also customizable, so you can choose various grades, picket sizes, and picket spacing.

You can even get features like reinforced rails, which can make them even stronger. The stronger your fence is, the greater the security it will provide you and your family.

Ornamental Steel for Better Weather-Proofing

If you want something stronger than aluminum, consider getting an ornamental steel fence especially if you expect your fence will be taking abuse such as kids using the fence as a soccer goal or if they’re playing basketball nearby and the ball can caroms off the rim or backboard and hits the fence at a high rate of speed. You can also get them in various styles, like “Warrior”, “Genesis”, and “Crescent”.

simulated stone fence

Simulated Stone for the Greatest Privacy and Sound Proofing

Simulated stone, or “faux stone”, is one of the easiest-to-maintain fencing materials. So long as you choose a reputable manufacturer, you never have to repaint or re-stain this type of fencing. Furthermore, high-quality faux stone fences are very resistant to warping and cracking.

But what makes these fences even better than wood is they offer even greater privacy. Unlike wooden fences that can still have slits, stone fences don’t have any holes to peep into. This kind of construction also makes them amazing sound-proofing fences.

A simulated stone fence also boosts curb appeal, as it’s simply great-looking. They look and feel like granite, and come in various colors like black, beige, grey, and brown.

Don’t Limit Your Home Security and Privacy to a Wood Fence

True, the cost of a wood fence may be initially lower than those of your other fencing options. But you also have to consider the high maintenance and eventual replacement costs of wood fences.

Whereas your alternatives – even the PVC, aluminum and simulated stone and wood fences – are more durable. They also better resist weather and pests, which easily outweighs their higher cost. And most of these alternative fence materials come with a lifetime warranty!

So, get that long-lasting, beautiful, and security-boosting fence for your home now! Once you’re ready to talk about your options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help you choose the right residential fencing system and even give you a free estimate.

Not yet decided on which fence is best for your home? Download this free guide:

The Ultimate Guide to Fencing


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