How to choose a fence picket when planning your fence project? Things to consider when making this decision are the following: Cost per picket, type of picket, longevity, and appearance of each picket. There are three main types of fence pickets that are readily available. These are pressure treated pine, Spruce, and Cedar. Let’s examine each.
- Pressure Treated Pine – Pressure treated pine fence pickets are the less expensive of all the
fence pickets sold. Unfortunately, it is also the fence picket I would recommend the least. The
boards all tend to warp and shrink even after just a few weeks of being installed. Under no
circumstance would ever install a toxic pressure treated fence at one of my customer’s homes.
- Spruce – Spruce wood is slightly more expensive than pressure treated wood but does not have
near as many problems with warping or shrinking as pressure treated does. Spruce comes in a
thick 3/4 inch thick which helps with not warping. Because of the strength and thickness of
spruce, this picket is a good choice for large breed dog owners. Spruce is a good choice for those
needed a good fence a low cost. Spruce comes in a bright yellow color and is very consistent in
color. Stain is a good idea when choosing spruce as the natural oils of spruce do not have the
longevity or the bug repellent as a cedar would.
- Cedar – Cedar is really the “King” of fence pickets. However, not all Cedar is created equal. Some
companies will sell a lesser cedar known as Yellow Cedar, California Cedar or incense cedar. This
is technically not a bad board however this is not near the quality of a true Western Red Cedar.
Western Red Cedar fence pickets range in color tones from light pink to dark red or brown. The
tree grows in Canada only making the price more expensive than other types of cedar grown in
the US. The biggest factor when choosing a western red cedar is picket is choosing the thickness
of the picket. Most of your big box stores sell cedar pickets that are only 1/2 inch thick. The
most important thing when choosing cedar pickets is to look for a 3/4 inch thick or more cedar
picket. Obviously the thicker the better. A good thick cedar picket even without stain will last
you easily 30yrs plus.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend using 3/4 inch thick Western Red Cedar and you won’t go
wrong. However a cheaper alternative is Spruce, but please remember to stay away from pressure
treated pine at all cost!