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Fence Boards - Oak or Pine?

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  • Fence Boards - Oak or Pine?

    Well, the barn goes up this week, so the new task is fencing! Going to do 2x4 woven wire with a top board.

    Talked to fence guy (number 1) and told him what I want - he'll be coming out this week to measure and get me an estimate, complete with a few options (black mesh vs. galvanized, etc.). In our conversation today, we talked about what to use for the top boards - he prefers treated rough-cut yellow pine - says the boards are thicker/heavier (1 1/4" vs. 1", I think), so they last a long time. Other option is white oak - not as thick, but cheaper (by 65 cents a board) - fence guy says that it's harder, and stands up to cribbing/chewing better than the pine. Current horse is NOT a cribber or chewer, but who knows about future horse/s?

    Wondering if there are any pros/cons that I'm not seeing - fence guy prefers the yellow pine, but the oak is cheaper... and this project is big enough (perimeter fencing for 6 acres +) that 65 cents a board could make a pretty big difference!

    Other factors - I'm not planning on painting anything right now - perhaps down the road a bit, but for now, boards/posts are going to be "au natural". Climate is MidAtlantic - hot humid summers, damp chilly winters. Occasional hurricanes and heavy snows, but certainly not the norm. Fence is intended to keep horse (and my dogs) in, and neighboring animals (geese, dogs) out. Centaur/vinyl top rail isn't really an option, because the increased need for bracing will make it cost more (per fence guy).

    What would y'all do?

  • #2
    Oak. Horses think pine is DELICIOUS.

    Oak is usually stronger than pine, too. Personally, I like the way oak weathers more than pine, too.

    Rough cut is the way to go in either case, it will save you money and you get true dimensions.


    • #3

      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


      • #4
        I would go with oak, it is harder and stronger than pine and I think it is prettier. It is way more than pine where I live or we would have used it for our 3 rail fence. Oak is the bomb!



        • #5
          Hands down, oak!
          "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



          • #6
            Rough cut oak, hands down, not even a contest.
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              I've got a mixture. Previous owners seemed to be indecisive. Some oak, some pine. Some nails, some screws. Some square posts, some round, some half round. If only I had detailed records one when each board was installed it would be a really useful study on fence strength and longevity.

              The pine stays straight as it ages. Oak seems more prone to warping.

              The oak starts out and stays stronger. When horses mess with it, the pine is more prone to breaking or splitting as it is pushed off nails.

              If you get a quote for the same dimension boards, the pine is probably significantly cheaper.

              We have electric on all our top rails now, but I think the ones with the most tooth marks on them are old, soft oak that probably should have been replaced anyway. I don't have any real chewers here, but they don't seem to have eaten any board that looks less than 15 years old, either pine or oak.


              • #8
                We use rough coat oak now after the pine weathered too fast


                • #9
                  Oak. Hands down.
                  Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                  • #10
                    I have post and split rail and used both oak and pine. The oak bowed severely and rotted. I lost most of those rails in just over 5 years. So next time I used pine and though the horses will chew on them if you have chewers at least they stay in place and don't bow. I prefer the pine over oak.


                    • #11
                      Oak, no other wood will hold up to horses.


                      • #12
                        Definitely oak. We put our 4-board oak fencing up back in 2000, never painted it, & it's still going strong. And as others have said, the horses have no interest in chewing on it.


                        • #13
                          I wasn't always a Smurf
                          Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                          • #14
                            what tangledweb said.
                            i've only used pine as replacements and they stay straighter than the oak, which can really bow. my horses will chew either but especially the old and softer oak.
                            either way, electric is your friend!!


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks, y'all!
                              This has been VERY helpful!

                              Will re-post once the decision has been made!


                              • #16
                                You didn't mention the posts, I used locust because they can last 100 years. There are ancient posts in my back yard still standing. I don't know why they don't sell locust rails.

                                Originally posted by Susan P View Post
                                I have post and split rail and used both oak and pine. The oak bowed severely and rotted. I lost most of those rails in just over 5 years. So next time I used pine and though the horses will chew on them if you have chewers at least they stay in place and don't bow. I prefer the pine over oak.


                                • Original Poster

                                  I thought about that, but fence guy hasn't said anything about posts yet... he's supposed to be coming out one day this week (while the barn is going up) to measure and get me an estimate...


                                  • #18
                                    I also have both on my place. The pressure treated pine has been up several years longer than the oak. It has outlasted the oak and stayed straighter. I have the pine as a top board above no-climb woven wire fence. I put a single hot wire along the inside of the boards. Where I have oak fence I also had to add hot wire.

                                    When the oak begins to go it really goes, kind of rots and get's soft and the horses bite big hunks out of the boards.

                                    Personally, I don't think I'd go with boards again. I'd put up the flexible polymer rails that Ramm Fencing makes if I could afford it. Sooooo much safer and durable.



                                    • #19
                                      Not sure if this is an option in your area but mine are poplar. The horses don't chew on them and they stay straight as an arrow.


                                      • #20
                                        I don't know why I've never seen it in PA. It may be cost prohibitive but I think someone did mention to me that poplar was a very good wood for fence.

                                        Originally posted by manentail View Post
                                        Not sure if this is an option in your area but mine are poplar. The horses don't chew on them and they stay straight as an arrow.