Maintaining Timber Fences & Picket Fences: Is It Worth the Effort?
Many homeowners love the idea of a house surrounded with a white picket fence. Both picket fences and timber fences have been part of the look that defines the ‘ideal dream home’ for decades.
The popularity of timber as a fencing material stems from its historical abundance, as well as its economical and lightweight properties. However, despite the traditional popularity of white picket and timber fencing, it has to be asked – in this day and age, are there better options out there that require less maintenance and less frequent repair?
Benefits of Timber and Picket Fencing
Aside from tradition, there are a number of factors that keep people coming back to the idea of timber and picket fencing. These include:
- Easy installation – by a professional or DIY installation. Wood is one of the easiest materials to work with
- An instantly recognisable, timeless style
- Easy alteration of height and additions
- Broken or damaged sections can be easily replaced
- Typically inexpensive with a variety to suit all budgets
- Easily painted if you have a change of heart or need a refresh.
Drawbacks of Timber and Picket Fencing
Wooden fencing is notoriously difficult to maintain. It must be sealed and coated from day one, and requires frequent top-ups of varnish and paint to stave off weather-wear.
Wood can and does rot over time too – from both weather and pests. Timber fencing is prone to infestation by termites and other insects like no other fencing material (this is especially common if the posts are inserted directly into the ground as picket fences often are).
Timber fencing posts are also prone to warping over time if they are placed close together, leading to cracks and widening gaps between slats. This will have an impact of the privacy levels offered over time.
What are the Alternatives?
Practical and popular options include aluminium and steel fencing which are virtually maintenance-free but can still offer an impressive and attractive appeal. Both steel and aluminium fencing are one of the strongest and most durable fencing options on the market and won’t be presented with rotting, sagging or warping problems renowned in timber picket fences.
The benefits of aluminium and steel fencing as an alternative to timber picket fencing include:
- Better security (wooden fences can be easily broken or scaled)
- No maintenance required. Aluminium in particular will not rust or wear with weather
- Not prone to invasive insects
- Durable enough to withstand various and extreme weather conditions
- Aluminium in particular is still a low-cost and lightweight option for residential fencing
Aluminium and steel fencing are both easily maintained by an occasional hose-down with no need for ongoing painting and staining. For homes with automated gates, this is a more viable fencing option with its resilient steel posts.
The Best of Both Worlds? Smartwood Fencing
For homeowners who can’t get past their love for the warm aesthetics of wood, but who don’t want to put up with the maintenance fuss, warping or rotting, there is another alternative: Smartwood (or wood-look aluminium). Some would say it offers the best of both worlds.
Smartwood fencing has a style that is so similar, if not identical, in appearance to traditional timber and picket fencing that it’s difficult to tell the difference without a trained eye. It is made from aluminium panels that are coated in a wood-look (or white picket look) weather resistant coating.
As opposed to timber and picket fencing, Smartwood doesn’t need to be repainted and its natural timber finish will create that timeless, warm look for the exterior of any home. Other benefits of Smartwood fencing include:
- The increased safety benefits that come with aluminium fencing
- Absolutely no maintenance, no coating and no revarnishing required
- Increased durability without sacrificing the timeless look of timber
- Perfect for seaside locations or homes that face extreme weather conditions
- Style and colour availability ensures homeowners can have just about any timber style fencing for their property.
Timber and picket fences will always be part of the ‘ideal dream home’ and there’s no denying their ageless appeal. Whilst both styles of fencing can be visually pleasing, there are certain characteristics of them both that make them a less desirable choice for many homeowners. However, with a growing choice of materials available, including the emergence of Smartwood as a viable fencing material – there’s no reason for homeowners to put up with the limiting drawbacks of timber anymore.