Picket and other wooden fencing can add privacy, security and beauty to any yard. There are two major wood choices available to homeowners installing a new fence--pine and cedar. Installing a fence can be expensive, not to mention time-consuming, so picking the right wood is important.
Commercial pine is almost always pressure-treated, a process that infuses the cut boards with chemical preservatives. It's easy to tell which boards at the lumber yard have been pressure-treated because the process gives the wood a greenish tint. There are different grades of pressure treatment, which are measured from 0.25 through 0.60. According to Professor Gene Wengert, an extension specialist in wood processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, any post going into the ground should be a 0.40 or higher.
Chemical Free Wood
Cedar wood is not pressure treated, therefore there are no chemicals added to the wood to help it resist decay, weathering or insects. High quality cedar wood, when used above ground, is able to hold up against the elements almost as well as pressure treated pine, naturally.
Pressure treated pine can last for hundreds of years if it is maintained, but it is prone to warping and splitting. Well-maintained cedar wood will last for upward of 30 years, and it will almost certainly retain its original shape.
Pressure-treated pine has a green tint when it is brand new, but over the years it will turn a grayish color. Pressure-treated pine will need to be painted or stained regularly. Quality cedar wood has a red look to it and will maintain that look for the majority of its lifespan.
The Best Choice
Expert such as Professor Wengert, suggest using a mixture of both pressure-treated pine and cedar wood for the best quality and longest-lasting fence. Cedar wood should be used as the fencing planks, while pressure-treated pine should be used for the posts.