Compare Pine vs Cedar Fencing Costs
About Pine Fences
Pressure-treated pine and cedar are the two most popular types of wood fences, but they are vastly different.
Pine fences are popular because largely because of their affordability. Most of the pine used to build fences is Southern yellow pine that has been treated with chemical preservatives to prevent weather and insect damage, rotting and fungus. This is why you hear pine fencing referred to as pressure-treated pine.
While the chemical process helps with durability, pressure-treated pine typically does not last as long as cedar.
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How Much Does Pine Fencing Cost?
Pressure-treated pine fences cost anywhere from about $10 to $25 per linear foot, including installation. If you need 150 linear feet of fencing - which is fairly typical for a residential backyard - budget anywhere from $1,500 to $3,750.
A picket fence no taller than four feet would fall on the low end of that price range, while a six-foot privacy fence would fall on the high end. Decorative features such as a scalloped top add about $2 per linear foot. Removal of an old fence usually adds about $3 to $6 per linear foot.
Pine Fence Maintenance
Pressure-treated pine fences require regular maintenance to prevent rotting. They should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Any loose nails should be hammered in and any rotting boards should be replaced. Every few years, your pressure-treated pine fence should be repainted or re-stained. Regular sealing is also recommended to prevent cracks and weather damage.
Pine Fence Pros
- Price - Pressure-treated pine is the least expensive of fencing materials, priced significantly less than cedar.
- Better material for posts - Although cedar is overall the more durable of the two materials, pressure-treated pine stands up better when it is exposed to soil. Because of this, most cedar fences have posts that are made of pressure-treated pine and boards made of cedar.
Pine Fence Cons
- Look - Pressure-treated pine has a greenish tint that is caused by a reaction to the chemical preservatives. The tint will fade over time, and you can hide it with paint or stain, but many people consider it unattractive.
- Durability - Pressure-treated pine is more susceptible to warping, buckling, twisting and shrinking. It is more sensitive to the elements, and it is more susceptible to insect damage. Pressure-treated pine can start to look weathered in just a few short years, particularly without proper maintenance.
- Lifespan - Pressure-treated pine fences tend to last about 15 years or less - about half that of cedar fences. However, with impeccable maintenance, some homeowners can extend the lifespan well beyond 15 years.
- Chemicals - The chemicals used to treat the wood are considered hazardous to human health and the environment. They contain arsenic, a known carcinogen. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies have revealed that children exposed to pressure-treated wood have an increased risk for cancer.
About Cedar Fences
Cedar is a beautiful, high-quality wood that is easily recognizable for its reddish-brown color. The wood contains natural preservatives, so it does not require any type of chemical treatment. Cedar is popular for its distinct look, as well as its durability, though it is more expensive than pressure-treated pine.
How Much Does Cedar Fencing Cost?
Cedar fences typically cost about $15 to $30 per linear foot, including installation. For a fence spanning 150 linear feet, that works out to $2,250 to $4,500. Keep in mind that most cedar fences use pressure-treated pine for the posts.
Small picket fences fall on the low end of that price range, while tall privacy fences fall on the high end. The price is also impacted by factors such as ground conditions, the time of year and local labor rates.
As with pressure-treated pine, you’ll pay about $2 per linear foot extra for decorative features like a scalloped top and $3 to $6 per linear foot extra for removal of an old fence.
Cedar Fence Maintenance
Cedar fences require less maintenance than those made of pressure-treated pine, but you can’t ignore upkeep altogether and expect them to last.
Clean the fence about once a year using warm water and mild dish soap. Scrub stains with a brush, paying extra attention to any spots with mold or mildew. Once clean, rinse the fence with the garden hose.
Inspect the fence once a year to make sure board are in place and free of rot, and always trim bushes, vines and weeds that are growing on the fence, as they can cause significant damage over time. A waterproof sealant, while not required for cedar, will extend the life of your fence.
It’s important to know that cedar will naturally gray over time. Many people love this weathered look, but you can preserve the original reddish-brown color through regular pressure washings and resealing.
Cedar Fence Pros
- Look - Cedar has rich color and a beautiful grain pattern that is unmatched by pressure-treated woods. If you prefer the look of natural wood, cedar is the better choice.
- Durability - Cedar tends to last longer and hold up better. It is less likely to warp, buckle, twist or shrink. And it naturally rot and insect resistant.
- Maintenance - Cedar does require regular maintenance, but the maintenance is usually less than with pressure-treated pine.
- Lifespan - Cedar is known to last 30 years or more with proper maintenance - about double that of pressure-treated pine.
Cedar Fence Cons
- Price - Again, cedar is significantly more expensive than pressure-treated pine.
- Less durable in soil - Cedar doesn’t hold up as well as pressure-treated pine in soil, so it is rarely used for fence posts.