Cedar stands out as a durable and beautiful fencing material. It has many natural qualities that help it stand up to insects and weather elements. Cedar fences can last decades, but the specific lifespan depends on different factors, including those within your control, like maintenance.
Average Life of a Cedar Fence
Fences made of untreated cedar can last between 15 and 30 years, depending on how well you care for it and the specific cedar species used. If it's treated, a cedar fence may last up to 40 years. Cedar consistently outlasts other wood species. A spruce fence typically lasts only four to seven years. Pine lasts a little longer than spruce but still comes in well below cedar, usually lasting five to 12 years. You can expect to pay more for a cedar fence than you would for other wood fences, but you get a longer life out of the wood, so you get a much better return on your investment.
Why Cedar Lasts
Cedar offers a natural resistance to many outdoor elements. Unlike other wood varieties that may undergo chemical treatments to stand up to weather, cedar doesn't need any protective coatings. The natural oils in the wood protect it from things like rotting and insect damage, which keeps it strong and durable. Cedar holds its shape without the degree of shrinking and warping you get with other wood, even in moist conditions and harsh weather.
Maintenance to Extend Cedar's Life
Cedar is a relatively low-maintenance wood; however, you can give it a little help to last even longer. Protective coatings help shield the wood from potential damage. They also preserve the original color of the cedar. If left unstained or untreated, cedar naturally ages to a gray color. Some people like the look, but others like to preserve the wood's natural color.
Cedar naturally performs well in damp conditions, but a water-resistant sealer gives the wood even more protection against rain and other moisture. The coating keeps the wood from absorbing as much water, which cuts down on potential damage. A sealer with UV protection gives the fence a defense against the sun's damaging rays. You'll likely need to redo the sealer every year or two. Check the product label for the recommended time frame.
You can also apply a semitransparent stain with UV protection over your cedar fence. Apply two coats of the stain to get the best results, and be prepared to repeat the process every three years or so. An oil-based primer and latex paint treatment may last longer.
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.