How long does a cedar fence last?


Thinking of installing a new cedar fence? You might be wondering how long that new fence will last before you must fix it or completely replace it.

This article will answer your questions and provide tips and tricks to help your new cedar fence last as long as possible.

Confusing Answers: timelines for the longevity of cedar fencing:

If you’re looking for a general idea of how long cedar will last, that is all you will find… a general idea that gives you a year range at best.

Your new cedar fence should last between 15-20 years…” said the contractor to the customer.

The truth is, there isn’t a general answer that fits all scenarios for every customer. Here are a few examples of some things that can differ from one property to the next:

  • The fence is built in the shade vs. direct sunlight
  • Vegetation and heavy brush are against the fence
  • Sprinklers are hitting the fence
  • One fence was cleaned and stained annually, and the other fence was not.
  • The bottom of the fence is touching the dirt and the other is not.
  • The posts can be different types when comparing fences (pressure-treated, cedar, galvanized steel).

As you can see, there are just too many variables to provide a perfect answer. There are, however, some things you can do to assure that your new cedar fence lasts as long as possible:

How to make my cedar fence last as long as possible:

  1. Start with a strong foundation; dig an adequate hole size and depth for the style of fence you are building. Don’t let the wind knock over your hard work!
  2. Use galvanized steel posts like a Postmaster from Master Halco. These posts do not rot and will last longer than any wood product available. Sure, they may cost a little more upfront, but you won’t have to replace any posts in the future (which is not fun if you have had the pleasure of doing so).
  3. Use concrete to set your posts. A regular old bag of 60lb concrete from your local lumber supply store will do just fine. Follow the instructions on the bag and be sure to tamp the concrete around the post.
  4. Trim back or remove completely any vegetation that might push against your new fencing.
  5. Be sure to set your new fence height, so the cedar pickets are off the ground! Cedar by itself has natural characteristics that fight against rot and bugs. These fighting features tend to fail when the cedar is touching the dirt or wet vegetation at ground level.
  6. Use an outdoor-approved fastener for attaching your cedar pickets to the rails of your new fence. Warning: galvanized coated fasteners approved for outdoor use will lose some of their coatings during the first rain. The coating will streak down the cedar board, and your fence will look like it’s crying. Your neighbors will all laugh at you. If you want to prevent the humiliation and save face with your neighborhood, try to find an aluminum twisted shank nail for a nail gun application or if you are feeling like you want to spend a lifetime hanging pickets, go ahead and use an outdoor coated wood screw. Just be sure to tell your friends you will be unavailable for the next 3 weekends.
  7. Once you have the fence completed, let the cedar dry out and then stain it. For helpful staining tips, check out our post on staining.
  8. Keep up with annual cleaning and staining for your cedar fence.

Be mindful of the tips listed above, and you can expect the longest life possible for your new cedar fence.

How long, you ask? “Oh, I’d say if you do all of these things, you can expect 20+ years….” Said the cedar fence contractor.