Problems with Timber Post and Rail fencing – and their solutions.
Timber Post and Rail fencing is probably the most popular fencing seen in horse properties across Australia and New Zealand. It looks stunning and hardwood especially lasts long and maintains its quality and aesthetics over the years.
However, Timber comes with its set of problems and there are new Post and Rail fencing options available for horse property owners these days. At Stock & Noble, we sell a wide range of fencing solutions across Australia and New Zealand. Our objective is to ensure our partners get the finest equine products available today and can build beautiful properties that truly make a statement.
Our portfolio doesn’t include Timber Post and Rail fencing, and we will try our best to not be biased. We aim to give you a complete and true picture based on well-known facts and our experience with owners who have Timber fencing.
In this article, we will lay out the most common problems with Timber Post and Rail fencing faced by property owners in our region. We will also discuss the solutions, so you get an overall picture of your investment and the steps you need to take when you choose Timber fencing.
The biggest problems with Timber Post and Rail fencing for horse properties:
- Timber is naturally prone to decay
Solution: Buy Treated Timber, hardwood and paint the fences.
- Timber gets eaten by termites
Solution: Use Termite repellent during installation.
- Timber posts can break sooner than expected
Solution: Ensure proper water drainage around the post and use only dry Timber.
- Timber rails are expensive and time consuming to replace
Solution: Hire a professional, look for alternate fencing solutions.
- The best quality Timber is tough to source
Solution: Explore and research different suppliers, look at premium alternate Post and Rail fencing options.
Problem 1: Timber Post and Rail fencing is a natural product that is prone to decay
Timber is naturally beautiful, but this beauty is also subjected to rotting over the years. The more Timber Post and Rail fencing is exposed to the moisture, the faster it will rot, split, warp, and crack.
In damp environments, coastal areas and places with high rainfall, the Timber absorbs moisture and expands. When the sun shines, the wood contracts. This process of expansion-contraction over time results in the splitting and cracking of wood. The water seeps into these cracks and rots Timber Post and Rail fencing from inside-out.
Moisture is also to be blamed for the growth of moss and mould on Timber, especially in the areas that do not receive enough sunlight. They slowly damage your entire fencing. If they are not checked in time, there is no option left but to replace your Timber Post and Rail fencing.
Solutions to stop Timber Post and Rail from decaying
Once the Timber falls prey to water and starts decaying, there is not much you can do. However, there are ways in which you can help prevent and protect your Timber Post and Rail from moisture:
Paint your Timber Post and Rail Fencing
If you use a superior quality fence paint with higher volume solids, it creates a protective layer on the top of your fencing. This layer helps in blocking moisture from seeping into the Timber and adds life to your fencing. Remember to prepare the Timber and follow the best practices of painting Timber Post and Rail fences.
Choose Treated Timber fencing
Typically Treated timber is known to last between 10-15 years, while untreated Timber fencing might need to be replaced within 5 years. You can look at some of the best places to buy Timber Post and Rail fencing in Australia.
Get hardwood fencing not Pine
Red Gum and Iron Bark are some of the best quality hardwood options available in Australia. They last much longer and are more resistant to natural decay as compared to the cheaper option of Pine. Pine is known to be softer and no matter what you do water will find its way into this wood.
Use only dried Timber for horse fencing
If Timber has not dried out properly, natural sap inside the timber can cause rotting from the inside out. So, make sure you never use green Timber for Post and Rail fencing. The wood should be completely dried and then installed for more optimal performance.
Problem 2: Timber gets eaten by white ants or termites
Termites’ love for Timber is a well-known fact. The worst thing is they attack the structure from within. Termites usually make their way through the soil, get into the post, and start eating it from inside. So, by the time you realise what is happening, your post might already be hollow and on the brink of breaking apart.
In Australia, some areas might be relatively free of Termites, but in our experience, they can arrive any day and you should always be on the lookout for these little creatures. The most common sign of their presence is wooden shavings around the post.
Solutions to stop termites eating Timber Post and Rail
Once termites attack your Timber fencing, it is an awfully hard and expensive process to get rid of them. The only thing you can try and do is treat the soil around it with anti-termite products available on the market.
However, there are some solutions you can consider at the time of buying and installing your fence. Please note that these options are preventive and might work or might not work based on how termite prone your area is.
Use a Termite barrier
Before you paint your fences, you can apply a product that is known to repel termites.
White ants always come through the ground. So, consider applying the barrier or an anti-termite product specifically on the end that goes inside the ground.
Use a Post saver sleeve
There are a few options of termite-proof sleeves available in the market. You can put your post inside this sleeve and then install it as per instructions.
Treat the soil
While installing the fence, around your fence post, mix a solution like “Termidor” into the soil. In this way, termites should be repelled from making their way through the ground and will not be able to reach the Timber posts.
Consider other Post and Rail fencing options
If your area is highly prone to termites, it is a good idea to look at other materials for Post and Rail fencing, for example – Steel, PVC, and Flexible plastic. Termites do not attack these materials.
Problem 3: Timber posts can break sooner than expected
When a Timber Post and Rail fencing is installed, the posts are cut or morticed in the middle to fit in the rails. This compromises the structural integrity of the post and makes it weaker.
Since the post is already weakened, the constant exposure to the elements results in the splitting and cracking of wood at the weakest point. In some cases, this point is at the top of the posts. The rails become loose and usually, the post can only be fixed through replacement.
Solutions to stop the rotting of Timber posts
While the process of installation cannot be changed, there are a few things that can be done to control the rotting of posts:
Ensure proper water drainage
While installing the posts, you can do a couple of things. Firstly, put gravel in the bottom of the hole. Secondly, where the surface level meets the post, shape the ground to drain water away from the post, not into it.
Proper drainage will ensure there are fewer opportunities for water to be stagnant and rot the wood.
Keep grass around the posts shorter
The grass around the posts should be kept short and away from wood since weeds attract moisture and can decompose the wood faster.
Use dry timber only
If you use green or wet wood, it will follow its natural process to dry up by getting rid of the moisture inside. Consequently, the post will warp and split. It is always better to use dry timber which has already lost its sap and is less likely to change its shape.
Look at options of stronger posts
Today there are much stronger, stable, and sturdier options of posts available in Australia. Check out Plastic Posts or Steel fencing system if you want no rotting, less maintenance and a longer life for your Post and Rail fencing.
Problem 4: Replacing Timber Rail is expensive
When Timber rails are morticed in, replacing it is quite a time-consuming task. You must dig around the ground, loosen the post, pull the rails out, put new rails in and then reset the post. To replace a single Timber Rail could be half a day job, that too if you hire a professional.
Also, if initially your Timber rails were cut to a length of your preference, it is difficult to source a small quantity of the exact type and size of the rail. The additional labour time and the higher cost of material both make replacing Timber rails an expensive endeavour.
The solution to replace Timber Rail fencing in a cost-effective way
Unfortunately, there is no way around it. Replacing Timber Rails will cost you time, money, and energy. The only solution might be to not get Timber Post and Rail fencing in the first place.
If you compare it to the ease of other options like Horserail, PVC and Buckley Steel fencing system you will notice the difference. For example, replacing a Steel rail of Buckley can be done simply by sliding the rails into the rubber grommets on the post. It is approximately a 5-minute job and anyone can do it.
Problem 5: High-quality Timber Post and Rail fencing is tough to source
Currently the lead time in Australia for the best quality hardwood is 6 months. That is right. So, if you want premium Timber for your horse property, you need to wait for months, plan way in advance and there is no guarantee that you will get exactly what you are looking for.
If you are ready to compromise on quality, the alternative is Cypress, which is denser than Pine and closer to hardwood. It is also comparatively easier to source than hardwood.
Solutions for sourcing hardwood for Post and Rail fencing
The steps to source the best quality Timber Post and Rail fencing are – to have enough time in hand, do your research thoroughly and speak to as many suppliers as you can. Some might have better connections and will be able to source the Timber you are after. It is going to be a challenging task, but possible.
If you dream to build a high-end forever property, you can also look at options like Buckley Steel fencing system which are designed to match the look of Timber Post and Rail and have the finesse and durability of steel. However, it is an expensive option. If you are interested, you can learn more about the cost of different Post and Rail fencing options in Australia, and, compare different Steel Post and Rail fencing suppliers.
Are you ready to tackle Timber Post and Rail fencing at your horse property?
You learnt the problems that are common with Timber Post and Rail fencing. From nature-led decay to being a favourite of termites, from weaker posts to the higher cost of replacing rails, Timber fencing has its issues. In this article, we have quoted the problems, but we have also given you the solutions to tackle each one of them.
However, if your heart is set on wood and you have more questions about the cost, maintenance and availability, then some of the best Timber fencing suppliers we have listed should surely be able to help you.
If you’re open to exploring the new-age alternative of Timber Post and Rail fencing, feel free to speak to our fencing expert and we would do our best to help you find the finest fencing solution for your horse property.