Are Fence Pickets Pressure Treated? Explained

When it comes to building a fence, one of the most important considerations is the type of materials used, particularly when it comes to the pickets. This is a common question among homeowners and contractors alike, as pressure-treated wood has long been favored for it’s durability and resistance to rot and decay. This treatment process extends the lifespan of the pickets, making them an excellent choice for outdoor structures like fences. But the decision to use pressure-treated pickets isn't always black and white, as there are some factors to consider before making this choice. In this article, we will explore the benefits and potential drawbacks of pressure-treated fence pickets, allowing you to make an informed decision for your next fencing project.

Should Fence Pickets Be Treated?

When it comes to fence pickets, the question of whether or not they should be treated is often raised. In general, fence pickets don’t necessarily need to be pressure-treated. Unlike fence posts, which are in direct contact with the ground, pickets are typically above ground level and not subject to as much moisture and insect exposure.

Pressure-treated wood is a type of lumber that’s been treated with chemicals to protect against decay, rot, insects, and other environmental factors. This type of treatment can significantly extend the lifespan of the wood, especially when it’s in contact with the ground. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to use pressure-treated posts to ensure the overall durability of your fence.

However, it’s still important to choose a durable and rot-resistant wood species for your pickets, such as cedar or redwood.

Alternatively, you can also opt for composite pickets made from a mixture of wood fibers and plastic. These composite materials are designed to mimic the look of real wood while offering superior durability and low maintenance. They’re highly resistant to rot, insect damage, and warping, making them an excellent long-term investment for your fence.

Proper maintenance is key to preserving the pristine appearance of a pressure treated wood fence. Regular re-application of stain or paint every few years is crucial in preventing weathering and deterioration. However, before you begin this process, it’s essential to exercise patience with kiln dried wood. Waiting several months, preferably at the end of a dry season, gives ample time for the wood and chemicals used in pressure treating to fully dry, ensuring a successful and long-lasting finish.

How Do You Keep a Pressure Treated Wood Fence Looking New?

Another way to keep a pressure treated wood fence looking new is to regularly inspect and repair any damaged or loose boards. Over time, exposure to the elements can cause the wood to warp, crack, or develop other signs of wear and tear. By addressing these issues promptly, you can prevent further damage and maintain the integrity of your fence. Additionally, it’s important to keep the area around the fence clear of debris and vegetation. This helps prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rot and decay. Regularly cleaning the fence with mild soap and water can also help remove dirt, grime, and mold that can accumulate over time. Lastly, consider applying a water repellent or sealant to further protect the wood from moisture and UV damage. These products can enhance the natural beauty of the wood while providing additional protection against the elements.

In addition to the exposure to sunlight and drying conditions, the type of wood used in a non-pressure treated fence plays a crucial role in it’s lifespan. Untreated soft woods, such as SPF, tend to deteriorate faster compared to other hardwoods. Therefore, it’s important to consider the environmental factors and wood selection when estimating the longevity of an untreated wood fence.

How Long Will a Non Pressure Treated Fence Last?

Are fence pickets pressure treated? This is a common question that homeowners often ask when considering the longevity and durability of a fence. While pressure-treated wood is highly recommended for fences due to it’s resistance to rot and decay, there are instances when non-pressure treated wood can still last a considerable amount of time.

If the fence is exposed to decent sunlight and the rain and dew have ample time to dry, an untreated wood fence could last a long time, possibly even a decade. One such factor is the presence of shade, which allows water to accumulate and remain on the woods surface for extended periods of time. This excess moisture can promote rot and decay, causing the fence to deteriorate faster.

Additionally, the type of wood used for the fence will also play a significant role in it’s lifespan. Untreated soft woods like SPF (Spruce, Pine, Fir) tend to rot quicker compared to hardwoods or pressure-treated woods. Soft woods have a higher susceptibility to moisture damage, making them more vulnerable to rotting over time.

Regularly inspecting the fence for any signs of decay or damage, such as soft spots or discoloration, can help identify and address issues early on. Applying a wood preservative or sealant can also provide some level of protection against moisture, pests, and UV damage, although it won’t be as effective as pressure-treated wood.

How to Choose the Right Type of Wood for a Non-Pressure Treated Fence Based on Climate and Environmental Factors.

  • Research different wood types suitable for fence construction
  • Consider the climate of your area and how it may affect the wood
  • Look for wood options that are resistant to rot and decay
  • Check if the wood is suitable for the local environmental conditions
  • Consider the maintenance requirements of different wood types
  • Take into account the durability and lifespan of the wood
  • Consult with local experts or professionals for advice on wood selection
  • Weigh the cost of different wood types and ensure it fits your budget
  • Consider the overall aesthetic appeal of the wood for your desired fence design
  • Make an informed decision based on your research and specific needs


Whether pressure treated or not, proper installation, regular maintenance, and periodic inspections are crucial in maintaining the longevity and aesthetics of your fence.

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