A Guide to Choosing the Best Wood for Fence Posts

Sarah Coggan
Written by Sarah Coggan
Updated May 19, 2022
A house with a wood fence
Photo: qingwa / iStock / Getty Images

The key to a long-lasting fence is choosing the best wood

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Embarking on a new home project is always exciting … and a little nerve-wracking. If you plan to build a new fence, choosing the best wood is your first step. Lumber supply stores carry a variety of types of wood, all of which have their pros and cons. Knowing what features you need is the key to selecting the best wood for your fence.

What to Consider Before Shopping for Wood

When selecting the proper wood for your fence, first consider your region. Some types of wood, like redwood, can withstand heavy rainfall, while pine would last longer in a dry area. A wood that is less resistant to water will be prone to rotting, mold, and mildew. Choosing a dense, rot-resistant wood will save you money in maintenance should you live in an area with high moisture.

Your budget for a fence will determine the types of wood available to you. Though redwood, IPE, and black locust wood are resilient and durable, they cost more than pine and fir. The difference between these species often comes down to their natural resistances. A costlier wood likely will not need as much maintenance or treatment as its more affordable counterparts. On average, the cost to install a wood fence is $2,900.

Keep your needs in mind as you consider the various types of wood fencing. 

1. Cedar Fencing

A cedar fence
Photo: JPLDesigns / iStock / Getty Images

Cedarwood is a popular choice for fence posts because of the wood's unique color and grain texture. In addition to looking great, cedarwood is naturally resistant to rot and repels insects with its natural oils. While many types of wood require chemical treatments to enhance their durability, cedar can go untreated and last up to 30 years.

Though it will create a long-lasting fence that will likely save you money over time, the initial costs of using cedar are usually higher than pressure-treated pine, at $2 to $3 per foot.

2. Pinewood and Pressure-Treated Wood Fencing

A pine fence
Photo: soupstock / Adobe Stock

When you see pressure-treated wood, it is usually southern yellow pine. Pinewood comes in yellow or white shades and stains well, making it easy to modify to your liking. It is one of the most affordable types of wood fencing, at $1 to $5 per foot

Pressure or chemical-treated wood can withstand weathering, but untreated pine will require treatment. Although sealant will help preserve this wood, pine will last longer in drier areas. Pine fencing is easily damaged as it is softwood. So you may need to perform periodic maintenance to restore or replace damaged or scratched fence posts.

3. Redwood Fencing

A redwood fence
Photo: CampPhoto / iStock / Getty Images

Redwood is a dense and nonporous wood species that makes a beautiful fence. Due to its dense fibers, redwood naturally repels pests and is far less prone to warping than other softer woods. It has natural weatherproofing properties that make this wood perfect for a long-lasting fence, and it will even withstand heavy rainfall. 

As this wood is durable, attractive, and resistant to the elements, it does come at a higher price point, at about $8 per foot. Though applying sealant isn't required, it will still preserve the appearance of your fence, which can incur an additional cost. However, redwood is one of the most common types of wood for fences as it is resilient without much maintenance. 

4. Black Locust Fencing

A black locust wood fence
Photo: skiserge1 / iStock / Getty Images

Black locust is a resilient wood species that will create a long-lasting fence. It is a stiff hardwood resistant to bugs, rot, and mold. In fact, black locust wood can withstand humidity and intense rainfall without taking damage. If you live in a high-moisture area, this may be the best wood for your fence. 

This wood may be more expensive than other woods, depending on where you live. Native to the Appalachian region, black locust wood is more common on the east coast of the United States. However, if you have access to the wood, it is a smart choice for fencing as it requires little to no treatment. This material costs between $5 to $10 per foot.

5. IPE or Brazilian Walnut Fencing

An IPE fence
Photo: JRstock / Adobe Stock

IPE is a tropical hardwood species that is longer-lasting and more durable than a softwood like pine. Naturally resistant to rot, pest infestation, and even fire, IPE wood requires no chemical treatment for preservation. IPE presents a strong and attractive option for environmentally-conscious homeowners who would rather avoid using chemicals. 

Wearing gloves and a mask is essential when working with IPE. When cut, the wood releases dust that can cause an allergic reaction when touched or inhaled. IPE costs $3 to $5 per foot.

6. Cypress Fencing

A cypress fence
Photo: Jason / Adobe Stock

Though cypress is a softwood, it is resistant to insects and rot. A popular choice for its attractive grain appearance, cypress is widely available at $2 per foot. Like other softwood fencing, cypress fences can last up to 25 years with proper care. If you desire an attractive wood with a unique natural pattern, cypress could be the best wood for your fence. 

Compared to other softwood, cypress is stiff and dense. While unique and appealing, the grain pattern can be challenging to cut. Working with this wood requires patience to not split or crack during fence assembly. 

7. Bamboo Fencing

A bamboo fence
Photo: andrey gonchar / Adobe Stock

Fast-growing bamboo is a more sustainable wood for fencing when compared to rarer, slow-growing species. Homeowners and landscapers choose bamboo for its elegant tropical appearance. Bamboo fencing can withstand water and humidity. So, it will remain unweathered and rot-free in damp regions. 

Though it is resistant to water damage, bamboo is still prone to warping and discoloration. Protective treatments will solve this issue but will cost additional time and money. Your fence may also require metal supports and rails, which can add to the overall cost of your project. Bamboo fencing can cost $6 to $12 per foot.

Building a strong, durable, and attractive fence starts with selecting the best wood. A lumber supply store or local fencing contractor can assist you in making the best choice for your needs and budget.

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