Timber vs. Steel Post and Rail Fences.
Which option is best for you?
Are you looking to design or redesign your equine property? You are free to embrace the old-world charm you’ve always admired and are so comfortable with or be open to new age ideas and ride towards the future. There are no wrong options here, whichever way you go, you will end up with a fabulous looking property. But the question is what’s right for YOU?
It’s really exciting to design your property afresh, but with multiple Post and Rail fencing options available today, it can also be challenging to choose. This is a big decision that will affect your horses’ safety, the appearance of your property and the peace of your mind.
At Stock & Noble, we understand this and to help you, we have put together a detailed comparison between the two types of Post and Rail fencing options dominant in lifestyle equine properties across Australia today – Timber and Steel.
In this article, we will deep-dive and clearly state the advantages and disadvantages of using both timber and steel fences and important factors you must consider before choosing either of them. After reading this article you’ll be able to evaluate the available options and make an informed decision for your horse property.
Timber Post and Rail Fences
A couple of decades ago timber was the most prevalent fencing solution in Australia. Easy to source and widely available, it was the preferred and most affordable option for post and rail fencing for a horse property. However, as the years passed, it’s been increasingly important to conserve our environment. Cutting down trees for commercial purposes became more difficult and less ideal for both our world and wallets.
Consequently, other options for fencing were explored and today if we look around Australia, we see it’s predominantly a mix of wood and steel.
What are the advantages of a Timber Post and Rail Fence?
1. Old world charm
For years we have seen picturesque images of equine properties lined with wooden fencing. Even today, when we imagine a horse property that’s what comes to our mind and rightly so. Timber has a kind of aura to it and this charisma is the very reason a lot of people still go for wood
2. Timber is familiar
Families have grown seeing Timber posts and rail fences at their horse properties for generations. Fencing contractors are much more confident about timber since this is what they’ve been installing for long. So, this option definitely has the feeling of familiarity on its side.
This is probably the greatest advantage of using a Timber post and rail fence. It gives you an opportunity to personalise. You’re free to cut and carve it in any shape and size that you prefer. This freedom of customisation helps you project your personality onto your property.
4. Naturally beautiful
Wood is wood. Gorgeous with its natural patterns, grains and tones, it’s a beauty to behold. Crafted to perfection by nature itself, it’s bound to make your property look spectacular.
What are the disadvantages of a Timber Post and Rail Fence?
Due to restrictions on chopping wood in Australia, the supply of timber has decreased over time, making it harder to meet demand. As a result, Timber post and rail fencing is becoming a more expensive option by the day.
While the initial cost of using timber or steel might be the same, a Steel post and rail fence is quicker to install and lasts for approximately 30 years with no maintenance, timber would need attention way sooner and needs regular maintenance. Thus, making the cost per year comparatively higher. The acute shortage of timber is also bringing the quality down. In a few instances, second-grade wood is being delivered to the installation site solely because there’s nothing else to use, hence resulting in a bad quality fence.
2. Not environment friendly
It’s a well-known fact that cutting trees is not good for our environment. The practice of destroying nature’s beauty to beautify one’s own property has been long criticised by climate change activists. Seeing the current situation of our world, it’s a much better idea to conserve than cut. So If you love wood so much, make sure you add more greens than what you take away.
3. Tougher to maintain
Timber post and rail fences demand regular maintenance. Every few years you need to clean and paint the fence to protect it against the damage caused by the sun, water, termites, and even animals. In addition to that, replacing damaged or broken rails can be very difficult in morticed posts and rails.
4. Chewed by horses
Horses love to nibble on the fences. Out of boredom or just for fun, we aren’t sure why? But it leads to big chunks of wood getting broken or chipped off which is neither great for your animals, nor for the look of your property. This increases the need for regular maintenance leading to a higher cost per year and can make an unpainted fence look “patched up”.
5. Eaten by Termites
Wood is the favourite home of termites. There are some areas in NSW and QLD that can’t even consider wood as an option, due to a huge problem with these tiny bugs damaging any and every kind of timber.
6. Prone to water damage
The structural integrity of wood can be compromised due to water. It seeps into the cracks and crevices of your fence and when this water fails to dry on its own, it causes timber to rot, grow mould, warp, and fray. Therefore, you need to invest more money and time to replace the damaged wood, an arduous process that could go on for years.
7. Higher risk
Since timber is a natural product there are many variables involved in its successful installation and overall performance. Sometimes it’s hard to predict what would and could go wrong. For example, a popular choice of wood these days is Pine. These trees are faster to grow, easier to source, and cost cheaper than hardwood. However, they also tend to buckle and twist and not last as long. Additionally, the wood that you prefer to use for your property might not be acclimatised to your location and develop mould or break sooner than you expect.
When it comes to timber, there are too many moving parts making it near impossible to guarantee that your fences will look and stay great in the long term. The kind of wood available in your area, the problem of termites, damage caused by sun, water, horses and more. It consumes your time, money and energy, and also chews away quite a bit of your weekend to maintain.
Steel Post and Rail Fencing
Over the years, Steel post and rail fencing has come up as a strong alternative to wood. Especially preferred by people who’ve had a bad experience with timber before or are looking at a modern and affordable option that’s environment friendly. Today we see several locations in Australia are moving towards steel, with only a few pockets of exclusively timber properties remaining now. Victoria has mostly timber but is also catching on to the trend of steel. Brisbane too has a mix of steel and timber equine properties. There is also another option of PVC or plastic fencing available in Australia.
What are the advantages of a Steel Post and Rail Fence?
1. Easier to maintain
Steel is pre-galvanised, which means that each post is coated in molten zinc for corrosion resistance, then cut to size and rerolled to achieve an even layer of zinc coating. Henceforth, the posts are strong and resistant to extreme weather, ensuring a long-lasting fence through all seasons.
2. Fire resistant
Steel is fireproof, keeping your property and horses protected against any unlikely event.
3. Impervious to Termites
These little bugs have no interest in steel homes. Steel post and rail fencing is the safest option to choose if termites are a frequent problem creator in your area.
4. Long-lasting and durable
Steel post and rail fences are renowned for their durability and ease of maintenance. With long-term resistance to rust, fading, and chalking, the protective powder coating does not chip, peel, or crack. The rails also do not warm or sag over time like wood does.
5. Peace of mind
Wood requires regular maintenance and no matter what kind of wood you install, you do need to devote time for its upkeep. On the other hand, a Steel post and rail fence is a zero maintenance, stress free option. Your weekends will be restored with these fire resistant, flood proof, and horse proof rails, so you can do what you really want – enjoy your family and property.
6. 100% recyclable
For an environmentally conscious individual, Steel post and rail fencing is an absolute no-brainer. It’s 100% recyclable, great for the environment and an ideal choice today, seeing the way climate change is impacting the world for us and our future generations.
7. More affordable
Compared to a wood fence, Steel post and rail fencing is faster to install, thus saving you labour dollars. Since it lasts for decades and requires little maintenance, its annual cost drops dramatically, making it a much better and more cost-effective choice.
8. Horse proof
While horses may nibble on a Steel post and rail fence, the paint is a lot more difficult to damage. In contrast to wood, it is unlikely you have to repaint the fence or worry about chunks falling off.
9. No unwanted surprises
Best of all, when you invest in a Steel post and rail fence you are in control of everything from the moment you say yes. You know it’s going to look great, last for decades, and not buckle, twist or crack or get eaten by termites. Irrespective of your location, the performance and aesthetics of steel fencing will not change. It will look and stay perfectly uniform and consistent. Then your property is in desert or snow, mountains or flats. This knowledge helps in predicting your cost, time and energy leaving no room for unwanted surprises year after year.
What are the disadvantages of a Steel Post and Rail Fence?
1. Limited options
Steel post and rail fences typically come in preset sizes and unlike wood, you do not get an option to customise the sizing as per your choice. However, you can choose the number of rails on your fence, resulting in a different look and feel to your property.
2. Lacks the look of timber
Steel post and rail fences look great, but they cannot match the raw, natural feel of real wood.
3. Distant from the past
Steel is not something that you might have grown up seeing all around you. It lacks the familiarity and comfort that timber fencing offers.
Which is better for you?
Steel or Timber Post and Rail Fences?
Honestly, both Timber and Steel post and rail fences are great options. It completely depends on what appeals to you more and suits your needs.
If you’re moved by the rustic charm of wood, find comfort in following a known path, and desire social proofing then timber is the perfect option for you.
Our recommendation is that if you choose timber, go for hardwood. Pick one that’s locally sourced and is already acclimatised to the location of your property. This will give your timber the best chance of lasting longer.
If you’re conscious about the environment, believe in riding towards the future and taking logical decisions with an open mind, want to make your life easier and stress-free, wish to save time and money, gain peace of mind and get enough time to enjoy your property, then Steel post and rail fence is the option for you.
Check out our premium quality Steel post and rail fencing solutions that will enhance the look and life of your property.
To learn more about Steel post and rail fences and find the right solution for your horse property connect with our fencing expert today. Get detailed information and an estimate with zero obligation of purchase.