The white picket fence has indelibly registered something on our consciousness as a symbol of the ideal of the perfect home life.
It evokes a feeling of security and comfort that defines many people’s idea of their future.
But in terms of a long-lasting and frugal purchase for your home, are timber pickets really going to give you bang for your buck?
Here we take a look at the pros and cons of timber and picket fencing and take a look at the more modern alternatives available.
Timber and Picket Fences: The Pros
- The cost is generally lower than metal alternatives
- Installation is a cinch – you can even DIY
- If certain sections become broken, they can be easily replaced and matched with a similar wood
- Easy to change the colour and finish for a new look
Timber and Picket Fences: The Cons
- Subject to the elements: prone to rotting, softening and fading
- Difficult to maintain - needs varnish and seal regularly
- Doesn’t provide a high level of security – easy to break through with simple hand tools
- Prone to insect infestation
From the above, although timber has the advantage of being a cheaper option upfront, it’s not necessarily a cost effective option in the long run.
Maintenance and replacement fees will hike up the cost overall, and you may even pay the price of your home or business not being fully secure.
If you really do still want to proceed with timber you should take these points into consideration:
Stick to the classic and resilient hardwoods like oak, jarrah, blackbutt or beech fencing that hold up best in the elements.
It may mean spending a little more money but it will be more cost effective in the longrun.
Use Metal Posts to Strengthen the Fence
While you can still have the aesthetics of timber in the posts, it’s not a sturdy or strong enough material to stand the test of time or the elements.
Using steel or aluminium to bolster the fence in the posts will help to add some strength to the fence.
Consider the Alternatives
Without completely changing the aesthetics of the fence to tubular metal, with modern coating and treatments you can now actually enjoy the look of a timber fence, but with all the benefits of an aluminium fence!
Aluminium is a versatile material which can be moulded into almost any shape. It can then be coated – using powdercoating techniques – to give it the appearance of a timber fence or even a traditional white picket fence!
Most people wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference between that and real wood, and you’ll enjoy all of the advantages of Aluminum Fencing, including:
- No risk of rotting, warping and insect invasion
- Resistant to rust
- Doesn’t need to be repainted and varnished
- Longer life than wood fences
- Not subject to cracking and splitting as wood sometimes is
Smartwood: The Modern Choice for Fencing
Smartwood is the term for aluminum fencing that is made to look like wood. It can be a very practical choice with many advantages.
Installing a Smartwood fence will add significant value to your property, especially if you live in an area exposed to a lot of the elements, such as the seaside – Smartwood is the best option.
Smartwood fencing requires little or no maintenance. Chances are it will last for life. You can choose from a number of finishes according to what matches the exterior of your home. They can be installed vertically or horizontally to mimic the look of a classic picket fence.
Making Your Decision
The ageless romantic appeal of the traditional timber picket fence may not be realistic.
It will most likely wear off as you realise your investment is not so easy to maintain.
In the end, it’s a personal choice, but it’s just important to be realistic and well informed.
Unlike the old days, we have all kinds of choices for fencing material now.
Consider your values carefully and you’re sure to make the best choice.
Ricky Hee is Managing Director of Fencemakers, a leading provider of Gates and Fencing in Perth, Western Australia.
Find Ricky on Google+.