If you own horses, building safe and secure fences is a top priority. Horses require tall, highly visible barriers they will respect. The type of wood you choose for fence posts and rails plays a key role in strength, longevity, and maintenance needs. Read on for an in-depth look at picking the right wood for horse fence.
Key Factors in Choosing Fence Wood
There are several important considerations when selecting wood for horse fencing:
Horse fencing must be sturdy enough to withstand hits from horses’ strong bodies. It also needs to support tension from rails and mesh. Opt for dense woods with natural resistance to impacts.
Horses have relatively poor depth perception. Highly visible fencing helps them perceive barriers, avoiding accidents. Lighter colored woods are ideal.
Wood that withstands ground moisture, rain, sun, and insects without rotting holds up best in outdoor fence applications. Seek out durable, decay-resistant wood varieties.
While cost shouldn’t be the only concern, you likely want to contain fence expenses while still using quality materials. Compare pricing on woods in your desired grade and dimensions.
Some premium fence woods may not be available or easy to source in certain regions. Using locally available wood varieties keeps material and transport costs down.
Best Woods for Horse Fencing
Here are top wood types to consider for horse fence construction:
Pressure Treated Pine
- Affordable softwood, readily available pressure treated for outdoor use
- Treatment helps resist insects, decay and moisture damage
- Lower strength than hardwoods but reinforced posts can provide support
- Needs resealing every 2-3 years
Eastern White Cedar
- Naturally decay and insect resistant softwood
- Handles weather extremes well with good longevity
- Lightweight, easy to cut and install
- Lower durability for high traffic areas or when ground contact
- Naturally decay and insect resistant
- Highly resistant to moisture and rot
- Beautiful appearance that ages gracefully to silvery gray
- Expensive but long lasting when properly installed
- Low strength ratings, best for garden fencing
- Extremely dense, durable, weather resistant hardwood
- High strength – ideal for post and rail fencing
- Toxic to insects, no need for treatment
- Grows naturally in eastern and central US
- Very dense, decay resistant hardwood
- Natural chemicals make it resistant to insects and rot
- Important fence building material historically
- Limited commercial availability today
Do your research to find the best species available in your region that fits your budget.
Posts vs. Rails – Where to Use Each Wood
The intended use of each wood component affects what type of wood to select:
As the foundational supports, posts need to be your strongest and most durable wood selection. Oak, black locust, or pressure treated pine posts provide sturdy bases.
Rails and Boards
These horizontal fence pieces can utilize lighter, more affordable woods like spruce, hemlock or poplar. Avoid brittle woods prone to cracking.
Woods like cedar and redwood hold up well for the vertical picket boards. Pine can also work if properly treated and sealed.
Matching the right woods to the stress level of each fence part optimizes durability and cost efficiency.
Sourcing Quality Fence Wood
Once you’ve selected your preferred fence woods, source materials carefully:
- Buy from a reputable lumber company familiar with horse fence construction needs.
- Hand select boards and posts or request higher quality grades to inspect each piece.
- Reject warped boards, knots, cracks or other defects.
- Use a moisture meter to avoid wet, green wood that will warp and twist.
- Ask for wood harvested during colder months when sap levels are lower.
- Purchase enough materials to complete the entire project to ensure consistent appearance.
Taking time to carefully inspect and source quality wood leads to better long term fence performance. Consider having a professional fence supplier Houston handle sourcing and construction.
Prepping and Sealing Wooden Fence Panels
Properly preparing and sealing your custom fence panels is also very important:
- Let panels acclimate onsite for several weeks before installing to prevent warping.
- Sand each board smooth to prevent splinters and facilitate finishing.
- Seal all sides with two coats of exterior stain allowing proper drying time between coats.
- For paint, prime all surfaces first before two topcoats of exterior grade paint.
- Allow panels to fully cure before installation for best moisture protection.
- Reapply protective finishing every 2-3 years.
Adequate sealing protects the wood and your investment in quality fencing that will last for decades with proper care and maintenance. Enjoy your hand crafted wood for horse fence!