Cedar Vs Pine Fence- Which Is Best for Fencing?

Fences offer endless benefits for a home setup. Majorly, they are for protection and privacy purposes. However, you cannot disregard the beauty of well-designed wooden fences. In Cedar Vs Pine Fence, which one would you rather have?

If you are a professional woodworker, you must know that pressure treated cedar and pine are the most used woods for fencing.

Cedar, like pine, is a softwood. However, it is tougher and more resistant overall, with the ability to withstand the outdoor elements without requiring treatment.

Cedar is, therefore, a popular choice for outdoor woodworking projects such as tables and yard furniture. 

Additionally, cedar has many indoor uses ranging from items like wardrobes, chests, and musical instruments. It is famous for its red appearance and unique grain.

You can use both pine and cedar interchangeably for wood fences, depending on your preference. 

These two wood types work for fences equally well though they possess different aesthetic qualities and durability. 

In most cases, cedar is used when people want a beautiful and lasting fence, while pine is preferred for those who prefer something that won’t be harsh to the pockets.

In this post, I will lay out different reasons why you should pick either of the wood depending on your needs for fencing. You will have to strike the final nail in the coffin at the end of the day.

Keep reading for more insight on the subject:

What Is Cedar Wood?

Cedar belongs to coniferous wood, which is classified as softwood. Its needles or cones remain all year round. 

Cedar trees are classified under the Cedrus genus and the Pinaceae family of trees, the coniferous family of trees.

There are a few species of Cedrus existing in the world; these trees exhibit certain traits that make them very popular among homeowners and woodworkers.

What Is Pine Wood?

Pine refers to a coniferous wood that is found in a variety of locations within the Northern Hemisphere. 

It remains one of the most popular woods important in manufacturing and carpentry. 

There are many pine wood products in many homes around the world. The products exist in the form of wood flooring, windows, furniture, and a lot more.

Cedar Vs Pine Fence Head to Head Comparison

When it comes to wood fences, you can only think of pressure treated cedar and pine as the most common materials to use; even so, it is a difficult task to choose between them. 

Each wood has its advantages and disadvantages to the extent that you may be tempted to use both woods for your fencing project.

In this section, I will discuss the main differences between cedar and pine to have an easy time choosing the right one for your projects.

Image of wood fence but what are the different types of wood fences?Appearance

The first notable difference between cedar and pine is vivid to the naked eye. Cedar has a distinct reddish color, white accents, and a beautiful grain pattern. 

You will find cedar, a warm and rich-looking wood. 

On the other hand, Pine wood has a much lighter color; the colors range from cream to very golden brown.

Typically, pine wood needs pressure treatment to resist the elements and other potential wear and tear; it, therefore, does not bear the most natural look. 

It does acquire a slight greenish hue in places due to chemicals from treatment. 

Cedar does not necessarily need to be treated with chemicals in the same way as its pine counterpart. Therefore, cedar wood is generally more natural-looking with more attractive grains.

Environmental Concerns

Cedar wood is considered one of the most eco-friendly options if you are looking to fence.

Since cedar does not need to be subjected to any chemical treatment like pine wood, it does not pose any worry of potential chemicals seeping into the soil and the surrounding at large.

You cannot say the same for pine wood, as it calls for a chemical treatment that can negatively affect the ecosystem.

Use of Cedar And Pine

Overall, pine is preferred for use in the indoor setting compared to the outdoor environment. This wood type is readily available and, above all, pocket-friendly softwood.

Pine wood is favorable for wood furniture like kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, wood tables, and frames around doors. 

You can paint and stain pine to offer more aesthetic value for interior design and decoration. However, if you are going to use pine wood outside, you must subject it to chemical treatment.

Cedar, like pine, is a softwood. However, it is tougher and more resistant with the ability to withstand outdoor elements like sunlight and moisture without requiring any chemical treatment. 

For the above reasons, cedar makes a popular choice for projects in the outdoor areas, such as picnic tables and other yard furniture. 

Additionally, cedar is also effective for indoor uses, especially on items like wardrobes, chests, countertops, and cabinets. 

The red look of cedar wood offers it a gorgeous color.

When fencing, you can use both cedar and pine interchangeably; this all depends on your preference. 

Both pine and cedar wood are great for fences even though they have different aesthetic qualities as well as durability ratings. 

Cedar is a preference of individuals who desire a beautiful and lasting wood fence, while pine is a choice of those who prefer something that is more pocket friendly.

Climatic Conditions Considerations

The prevailing climatic conditions in your area are one major player in choosing between cedar and pine wood fences. 

In particular, it would help if you seriously considered the levels of rainfall and humidity before settling on either of the wood types.

For example, if you take cedar wood, you will find it drier than its pressure treated pine counterpart. 

Cedar, therefore, does so well in the dry climates. If you use cedar in very wet and humid places, the boards may take in water and start to expand over time, which will lead to damaging effects.

On the other hand, Pine wood does better in more humid areas. However, it would be best to allow pine to dry before using it following pressure treatment. 

Giving pine enough time to dry is critical, especially if you will use it in very dry places, because it may start to shrink or buckle due to wet conditions.

Maintenance

The significant difference when talking about pine and cedar wood is the pressure treatment of pine wood. 

Pressure treating pine means that there are absorbed chemicals and preservatives inside the wood intended to protect the pine wood against weather, bugs, and other outdoor destructive elements such as termites.

If left unprotected, these termites will lead to wood rot, break down, and eventually decay.

Additionally, pine fences call for consistent maintenance practices to prevent rotting over time. 

These woods need to be cleaned and checked from time to time, ensuring that you replace all the rotten and damaged parts.

Regular and consistent sealing, repainting, and or re-staining pine wood are necessary as they play an essential role in extending the service life of pine wood.

On the other side, Cedar wood does not demand pressure treatment to stand against destructive elements like sunlight, moisture, and even bugs.

It is why cedar is considered stronger than pine wood overall.

Cedar calls for very minimum maintenance that does not mean that you should not care for this wood.

It would be best to consider cleaning cedar wood every year. All you need to clean cedar fences is a simple water and soap solution.

Also, ensure that you conduct a routine check on cedar fences for loose and damaged parts. Replace all the damaged and rotten parts while fixing the loose sections.

You can clean with a pressure washer. However, ensure that you use the proper pressure settings to avoid damaging the wood boards. 

Usually, a pressure setting of not more than 1200 psi would get the job done.

Durability

Image of fence so What Screws to Use For Fencing?Cedar wood is universally accepted as the stronger and more durable of these two wood species. 

It does not call for special treatment and can stand up well to the elements known to cause destruction. Additionally, it has lower chances of warping and shrinking.

Pine wood, on the contrary, is susceptible to buckling, warping, and shrinking.

When used in the outdoor environment, it is vulnerable and needs proper care and maintenance to serve you for an extended duration.

Failure to accord your pine wood proper care will not be long before it fades and starts to appear damaged and weathered within just a few years of use.

As much as cedar is more durable, pressure treated pine offers a stronger resistance to soil. 

For this reason, many people choose pine over cedar for fence posts. Cedar, on the other hand, makes excellent fence panels.

Lifespan

A pine wood fence commands an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. On the other hand, the cedar wood can last between 20 and 25 years with the proper maintenance. 

Overall, it implies that pine lasts about half as long as cedar wood; however, you can extend the lifespan of your fence by ensuring it is in the right state through constant inspection.

Smell

Cedar wood steers clear of pine wood when it comes to the smell. Pine fences, for example, do not have a discernible scent. 

On the other hand, Cedar wood is reputable for its pleasing aroma. This pleasant odor from the cedar wood may explain why it is so famous for indoor wood furniture and cabin flooring.

The reason cedar smells that nice is because of the compound called thujaplicin. You should note that there are many different types of cedar wood, and the odor of each cedar varies in intensity. 

Western Red Cedar has the strongest smell of all cedar species.

Should I Seal or Stain My Cedar Fence?

As much as you can use only a good quality stain on your cedar fence for daily use and protection against wear and tear such as foot traffic, it would be even better to seal it.

While sealing your wooden fence, I recommend that you go for a durable sealant. 

Consider applying a single coat of clear, weatherproof sealant using a paint roller, brush, or sprayer to realize the best results possible.

How to Stain Fence

As I have indicated previously, staining your wooden fence offers it protection in the outdoor environment against elements such as moisture and UV rays.

In this section, I’ll walk you through the staining of wood fences. Keep reading for a step by step guide:

Materials Needed for Staining Fence

  • A Stiff-bristle brush
  • Garden Hose
  • An Oil Based Wood Stain
  • Wood sealer
  • Pressure Washer
  • Pail/Bucket
  • Bleaching Argent
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Drop Cloth
  • Stain Stripper
  • Natural-bristle paintbrush
  • Sanding Block
  • Sandpaper
  • Pan
  • Roller
  • Roller Cover
  • Sprayer

STEP 1: Picking the Best Weather for Staining

Before you stain your wood fence, ensure that you are updated with at least the weekly weather forecast and settle on a day with temperatures ranging between 50 and 80 degrees. 

The days must have low to moderate humidity with no precipitation expected for the next 24 hours. 

STEP 2: Prepare the Wood Fence for Painting

Check the condition of your wooden fence and decide whether you need to strip and or sand the surface.

Is Your Fence Previously Stained or Finished?

Here, you will need to apply wood stain or stripper to the slats as per the directives by the manufacturers. 

Follow by scrubbing the slats using a stiff-bristle brush to loosen the previous finish.

Looking to Stain a New Fence?

The first thing you must do is ensure that the wood is dry. Usually, the best thing to do here is conducting a water/sprinkler test.

Here, you will need to sprinkle some water on the wood’s surface and observe. If you notice water beading, then it means that the wood is not dry, and you might have to allow it extra time to dry.

If the wood absorbs water, it shows that the wood is dry, and you can go on with the next step.

STEP 3: Clean the Fence and Allow It to Dry

Use clean water from a pressure washer or garden hose in this step. Cleaning at this step helps remove dirt that has accumulated on the surface.

If you are cleaning with a power washer, ensure that you work with pressure levels of not more than 2,000 psi. That pressure level reduces the chances of damaging the wood.

STEP 4: Spot and Treat Mold With Diluted Bleaching Agent.

The next step is to re-inspect your wooden fence for possible molds or mildew. If you notice any of the above, prepare a diluted bleach solution in a water pail.

Have your rubber gloves on, then apply the bleach to the wood using a garden sprayer, allowing it to settle on the surface for a while before you can rinse with the pressure washer. 

Allow the wood to dry completely before going to the next step.

STEP 5: Use Wood Filler to Fill Cracks and Imperfections

If you notice dings, dents, chips, cracks, or gouges on the fence posts, fill them with wood fillers to stain over a level surface.

STEP 7: Protect Nearby Plants from the Stains.

With the help of a painter’s tape, protect all the areas surrounding your work areas so that the stain does not spill over to places they should not.

STEP 8: Apply the Stain 

Pick the tool of your choice; it could be a brush, roller, or sprayer for the staining.

I recommend that you use a natural-bristle brush as it offers the best method of staining a wooden fence.

STEP 9: Let the Stain Dry Before a Second Coat

Once you have stained the entire fence, allow the wood stain to dry as per the instructions by the manufacturers.

Once the first coat has dried, apply a second coat until you achieve the desired color.

It would help if you applied a thin coat as they help improve stain adhesion and a better finish.

STEP 10: Seal the Wood Fence

Usually, a well-done staining job will serve your fence just right for the daily wear and tear.

However, if you are looking to offer your fence enhanced protection and prolonged durability, you should consider sealing the wood.

For the best results, go for a single clear, weatherproof sealant coat. Apply the sealer with a paintbrush, sprayer, or roller.

Ensure that you back-brush unsealed grooves and recesses with the help of a broad brush for a consistent appearance. 

Allow the sealant to dry completely before you can do any other further decoration on the fence.

Conclusion

We have learned a great deal about cedar vs pine fences. One thing that comes out is that you can use these woods interchangeably for exterior projects without putting so much doubt on either. 

As I wind up this post, I would like to revisit, albeit in summary, our main topic of discussion, which is:

Cedar Vs Pine Fence

In the post, we have noticed that pine wood should be the option if you are looking for a pocket-friendly option for a wood fence with desirable service life.

If you go with pine wood, ensure that it is pressure treated to help withstand elements such as bugs over an extended duration.

On the other hand, cedar is costly but comes with a longer service life than pine wood. 

This wood type also does not require chemical treatment, making it more eco-friendly.

Overall, the wood you choose will serve you right. Even as you make your choices, I recommend that you stain and possibly seal both woods for more improved durability.

As I hit the brakes on this post, I hope you have gathered enough to take you to the next step of installing a fence of your choice. If you have a question that you would like to ask, kindly do so in the comment section below.

Until next time, happy fencing!

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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