Fence Design Inspiration: The Classic Split Rail Fence

If you are looking for a classic fence design that never goes out of style, you should consider a split rail fence for your Southern Colorado home.
Monday, 16 August 2021

If you are looking for a classic fence design that never goes out of style, you should consider a split rail fence for your Southern Colorado home.

As the trend of farmhouse and ranch decor is gaining popularity, more and more Front Range Colorado homeowners are looking beyond common chain link and cedar privacy fencing and are incorporating split rail fence design into their outdoor spaces. The split rail fence design has been around for centuries. While it might have started out as a way to keep livestock in their pens, modern split rail fences are popular because of their simple, clean lines and low material costs. 

If you are considering the classic yet modern split rail fence design, here is what you need to know.

Split Rail Fence: The Basics

Material Choices

Several types of wood can be used for split rail fences (including pine, spruce and hemlock), but cedar is the preferred building material of most fence installers. Aside from the fact that the wood weathers to a beautiful color of gray, it also is the most water-resistant, it is resistant to bug infestations and will last the longest amount of time. It also requires the least maintenance.

But, while wood is the most popular choice for split rail fences, it is certainly not the only choice. Vinyl split rail fencing is also available. With the variety of colors in vinyl, many Colorado Springs and Denver homeowners are choosing this option, especially when the fence is near a home or being used for decoration. The only downside to vinyl is that it typically is priced to cost about twice as much for supplies compared to a wood split rail fence. Installation tends to be the same price as wood.

Estimating Material Costs For Split Rail Fencing in Colorado

A standard split rail fence in Colorado has posts that rise three to four feet out of the ground with rails around 10 feet long. The number of rails that go along the post is dependent upon how high the post rises from the ground. For instance, generally, a post that is three feet tall will usually use two rails and a four-foot post will use three. 

These guidelines are the standard measurements for posts and rails. But remember, post sizes can come in any size and rail sizes may be shorter. The shorter railing you choose, the more posts you will need to complete the project. Because it can be difficult to properly measure the amount of fencing materials needed, not to mention determining property lines, we recommend calling a reputable fence company for a free estimate.

Future Maintenance Of Your Split Rail Fence

The best part of using a split rail fence in Colorado and Denver areas is that they require little to no maintenance. In instances where thousands of feet of fencing are used, such as on a ranch or farm, this makes care for the fence much less of a financial or physical burden.

Staining or painting your split rail fence can also help to prolong the wood’s life because although it needs no regular maintenance. Note that the wood does eventually rot or can be damaged from the weather. If you choose to build your fence from wood other than cedar, painting the wood is a good plan.

If you choose a vinyl split rail fence, you can power wash the fence a couple of times a year if you’d like, but again, no maintenance is needed for the fence.

Design Alternative: Post and Rail Fence

If you like the concept of split rail fences but want something a little more refined looking, consider a post and rail fence. Similar to split rail fences, this type of fencing is made up of posts that have slots cut or formed into them. 

Post and rail fences are commonly found in rural areas and are used to house livestock, for ranch or pasture fencing, to show property boundaries and sometimes for decorative purposes. Because post and rail fencing has such a variety of uses, the fence also comes in a larger number of styles. For pasture fencing or to contain animals, simple and functional materials are chosen, however decorative post and rail fences often have ornate posts and post caps.

Material Choices For Post And Rail Fences

The wood used to make a post and rail fence varies quite a bit because of the difference in cost. Cedar is again the preferred material for most fence installers, but spruce can be an inexpensive but durable alternative to cedar.

Another option for post and rail fencing is pine. However, while it is less costly at installation, pine is also less durable, which can mean higher costs for maintenance. In general, it is best to use treated wood as it is more durable and requires less maintenance.

Wood is the most common for a post and rail fence, but vinyl is available as well.

Estimating Material Costs for Your Post And Rail Fence

For post and rail fences, the rails are usually strung between posts that are anywhere from four to 12 feet from each other. The fences range from a height of four to six feet depending on fence regulations in your area, and there are usually two to five rails between each post.

Another thing to consider is whether you’ll buy rails and posts separately or buy pre-assembled panels. If you plan to buy the fencing in pieces, you’ll need to purchase corner posts, line posts and rails, which is helpful in customizing the fence if it is for decorative purposes. Installing the fence yourself isn’t especially difficult, but it is rigorous and time-consuming, which is why it’s a good idea to consider hiring a company to install the fence.

Future Maintenance for Post And Rail Fencing

The maintenance of a post and rail fence requires more work than a split rail fence. If the fence is bare wood, it will require stain or paint every few years to keep it looking attractive. Depending on the climate of the area, the fence may need to be painted more or less often based on how you think it looks.

Cedar and pressure-treated woods do not require maintenance. Similar to the split rail fencing, vinyl is mostly maintenance- free aside from a power wash a couple of times a year. Although these fences don’t need much care, it’s always a good idea to continue to check the fences for any damage, especially if they’re used to contain animals.

Closing Thought: Split Rail Fencing Is Not For Everyone

Aside from the aesthetic properties, split rail fence design began in North American Colonies as a way to keep livestock and other large animals in place and to mark property boundaries. The practicality of the design diminishes dramatically if you own a small dog or another animal that spends time outside. The gaps between the rails simply will not keep in a household pet.

If you are unsure if a split rail, post and rail, picket, vinyl fence, or any other type of fencing is right for you, contact the fence installation experts at Blicks Fencing. We have been installing fences for our friends, neighbors and fellow business owners up and down Colorado’s Front Range for over 30 years. Put our knowledge and expertise to work for you! 

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