Best Wood For A Picket Fence [5 Great Options!]

Everyone has imagined this at least once—a great big house with a white picket fence out front, a true sign of a classic American home. A picket fence is easy to DIY and it adds a decorative touch to your house. One of the questions that often gets asked for this project revolves around what kind of wood should be used for a fence.

The best wood for a picket fence is redwood. It is very durable and resistant to rot, but it might be a bit more expensive than other woods. Other wood options for picket fences are cedar, cypress, or pine wood.

Installing a picket fence is one of the quickest and easiest fences you can install on your own. If you are looking to install one by yourself and you're looking for wood options, then you've come to the right place! We've rounded up the best wood options for your fencing project as well as other information you might need in this article, so do scroll down for more.

Beautiful Garden with open white gate. Best Wood For A Picket Fence [5 Great Options!]

What Is The Best Wood That I Should Use For A Picket Fence?

Wood has always been one of the choice materials a lot of homeowners choose when installing fences in their homes. This is because wood tends to bring a classic, natural look to your fence, and it is very easy to buy and install.

There are many different kinds of wood that you can use to set up your house's fence. When choosing the fencing materials, it is important to consider the durability, the resistance to rot and wearing, as well as the appearance of the wood.

Now that you've chosen wood as the primary material for your fence, you're probably wondering about the pros and cons of different types of wood. We've listed down the most popular wood choices that most homeowners use for their fences.

A white picket fence with a horizontal wooden rail

1. Spruce, Pine, Fir (or SPF) Woods

Spruce, pine, and fir (commonly known as SPF) are construction-grade lumber typically used by homeowners who are on a budget. This is because SPF wood is plentiful, and they tend to be on the softer side.

However, this shouldn't discourage you from using this as your fencing because builders favor this wood for those who are on a budget.


  • Has some resistance to insects
  • Treated pine does well against rot when exposed to the soil
  • Builders prefer using SPF as posts even if you are using a different wood for the fencing
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • It needs to be pressure treated
  • It is at risk of warping, buckling, or shrinking compared to other woods
  • Needs more maintenance than other wood choices
  • Longevity is not that great (can last about 15 years, but other woods survive longer than that)

2. Cedar Wood

Cedar is a great choice for fencing wood because it fits homeowners who are working with a budget but would still like to get their money's worth with a type of wood that has longevity. It also looks beautiful when stained, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a rustic-looking fence for their home.


  • Contains natural oils that can repel insects
  • Looks beautiful and natural with just a wood stain, but it is commonly painted for that classic picket fence look
  • Survives most weather conditions and colder, damper climates


  • Costs more than pine
  • Has the tendency to rot below ground, does not do well with soil

3. Cypress Wood

Cypress wood is a fairly hard, fragrant wood that is plentiful in the South. It is typically used for many different applications because of its durability and longevity. However, sourcing cypress wood can be difficult for those working on a budget because transport costs for this wood typically hike up the price.


  • Contains cypretine—a natural deterrent to insects
  • Looks better with a wood stain
  • Fairly durable against moisture, insects, and fungi


  • Can be a bit pricey because of transportation costs, it is generally cheaper only in the South
  • A little hard to work with because of the wood grain

4. Redwood

This wood is the most extensively used wood for fences. Redwood comes at a high cost because this can only be sourced from the California coastline, but the durability, longevity, and looks have made it a popular choice for many homeowners.


  • Very durable for fencing, exceptional for its aesthetic value
  • It has similar oils similar to cedar and it can withstand rot and insects
  • Looks beautiful with clear stain because of its natural beauty


  • Some redwoods are not sourced properly, making them severely endangered because of the high demand
  • One of the most expensive wood choices for fencing
  • Constant exposure to moisture, freezing, and thawing can damage redwood
  • It does not do well buried in the soil

5. Composite Fencing

Composite Fencing is not exactly real wood, but it does have wood fibers mixed in with a blend of other materials like plastic. It can be called "plastic wood," but composite fencing has become a popular choice because of its sturdiness and its wood-like aesthetics.


  • Very sturdy and durable, can last for many years
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly because it uses recyclable materials for production
  • It can withstand more severe climates


  • Cost can be quite expensive compared to wood
  • It is prone to fading because of the materials used

White wooden fence in suburban neighborhood

What Should I Consider When Choosing Wood For Picket Fence?

Before deciding which would to choose for your fence, there are a few things you should consider so you can pick the right one for your home. Wood is very durable, but certain conditions especially the climate of your location can affect the quality and longevity of your chosen wood.

Here are some factors you should look into before buying wood for your fence:

Local Weather Conditions

Some woods do well in different climates, while others do better in drier weather. To make your fences last longer, you should pick a type of wood that can withstand the local weather conditions your area receives to prevent decay.

Vulnerability to Insects

When choosing the type of wood for your fences, it is best to consider the insect infestation in your area. Most woods do release oils that make them repellant against insects, but not all of them do. You should also consider the amount of insect preventive maintenance you will have to apply to your fences to make them last longer.


Because wood is a depletable source, some types will be more expensive than others. If you are working with a budget, consider the kind of wood that will meet the durability that you need within the price range that you can offer. Also, you should consider the maintenance costs you will have to do for your fences as it ages.

painting terrace railings with a blue paintbrush by hand

How Do You Maintain A Picket Fence?

One of the things that make wood picket fences last for a very long time is a consistent maintenance routine to keep them sealed and protected from insects and aging. Wood can become damaged if left alone without any protection despite its known stability and durability.

Here are a few ways on how you can properly maintain your picket fence:

Inspect Your Fence Regularly

Wear and tear occur to all things that are left outdoors. Regularly inspect your fences for broken boards, splintered wood, or posts that need to be replaced.

You should also check if there are screws that need tightening or nails that have popped out to ensure that your picket fence is still in good condition to protect your property

Try to have a maintenance man look on your fences at least once a year to see if everything is still in tiptop shape. Make sure to fix any problems before it worsens because they can be a lot harder to fix and can be more costly if left alone.

Clean Your Picket Fences

Regular exposure to the elements can make your fences look less stellar than what it is. Use a power washer to clean down any built-up grime, moss, or mildew every few months.

Re-apply Stain and Sealants

Every few years, you will find that your wood picket fences will lose their shine and luster. Make sure to re-apply stains and sealants to protect your wood from heat, moisture, and insect infestation.

Blooming Fence of Flowers in the morning sun

In Conclusion

When deciding to put up a picket fence for your home, it is important to consider different types of wood that will work with the conditions in your area. These wood fences will last you a long time as long as you choose the right wood and you maintain it properly.