How do I Choose the Best Wood Picket Fencing?

Dan Cavallari

Wood picket fencing can add an aesthetically pleasing touch to any yard, and it can give your yard privacy from neighbors or nearby streets. When choosing wood picket fencing for your yard, be sure to consider a few important things: what kind of wood you want to use for your wood picket fencing, what kind of posts you will use, how you want each individual picket to be spaced, how tall you want your fence to be, and how you want to construct your wood picket fencing. The fencing will also have to be either stained or painted, so consider color as well.

A house with a picket fence.
A house with a picket fence.

The style of your wood picket fencing will dictate the look of your yard, as it will be one of the most notable features. Ask yourself whether you want to stain the wood or paint it, as the color of your fence can add or detract from the looks of your yard. Then ask yourself if you want your pickets to be traditional style pickets — straight with a triangular shape at the top — or if you want a more elaborate design. Some wood picket fencing have an ornate cutout at the top, and the pickets themselves can vary in size to form a wave design. Think about how each design will impact your yard before settling on a final design.

Strength of wood is important if the fence is intended to contain large animals such as cows or horses.
Strength of wood is important if the fence is intended to contain large animals such as cows or horses.

The materials of your wood picket fencing are important as well. Metal posts will change the look of the fence, but wooden posts may need more maintenance or replacement down the road. The type of wood you use to build your picket fence will also change the look and feel of it. Cedar boards are an attractive choice, but they are also more expensive than other types of wood. Pine is generally cheaper but not as attractive, and it is prone to warping.

Some companies manufacture prefabricated sections of picket fencing. These panels are easy and quick to install, but they are generally more expensive than the raw materials. The alternative is to build the fence from scratch yourself, but this is a time-consuming task and will take a reasonable amount of experience and knowledge to accomplish. Prefabricated picket fence panels are simply screwed or bolted to posts cemented into the ground, meaning the biggest part of the project for you will be pouring the concrete footings for the posts. If cost is an issue and you have the time and expertise, consider building the picket fence from scratch. You will be able to complete the project on a tighter budget, and you will be able to customize the fence to your liking.

The style of would chosen for a picket fence will dictate the style of the yard.
The style of would chosen for a picket fence will dictate the style of the yard.

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Discussion Comments


If you want to save money by installing pine picket fencing, there are steps that you can take to make it last for years.

To begin with, make sure that you choose treated pine picket fencing. This will help prevent cracking and splintering. Next, apply a coat of paint primer before you paint your fencing. This will also help to protect your fencing materials from the elements, such as rain, sun, ice, and snow.

When you are ready to apply paint to your pine picket fencing, choose one that is rated to last a long time outdoors. There are many brands available, but you don't want to choose the cheapest for this job. Apply two coats for additional protection.

As the years go by, check your pine picket fencing for signs of wear and warping, and fix damaged areas before they get worse. Re-paint areas of your fence as needed, and give it a thorough paint job every 2 to 3 years to further protect it from the weather and to help it last for decades.


Some lumber suppliers and home improvement stores sell wood picket fencing that is already stained or painted white. Choosing this type of picket fencing will make the project of installing it easier and less time consuming, because it won't need any work other than putting the fencing materials into place.


I think that the most attractive look for a picket fence is the traditional, white style. To achieve this look, I think that the best wood to use is a basic, neutral color. This makes it easy to prime and paint white.

If you prefer a variation of this classic style, a good alternative is to match the color of your wood picket fencing to either your shutters or trim. This will create a contemporary look that will compliment the primary color of your home.

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