How Long Does Split Rail Fence Last? [And How To Prolong Its Life]

One of the deciding factors in choosing what fencing material to use is its longevity. So if you are planning to use a split rail fence and wonder how long these fences last, we researched the answer for you. 

A wood fence, such as a split rail fence, lasts about 15 years on average. With regular maintenance, you can increase the lifespan of your wooden fence to 20 years or more.

Keep reading to learn how to make a split rail fence last longer. We'll also cover what factors can expedite the degradation of this fence type and what the considerations of having a wooden fence are. 

A grass meadow and a small fence next to a small pond, How Long Does Split Rail Fence Last? [And How To Prolong Its Life]

How To Extend The Life Of A Split Rail Fence

A well-maintained wood fence can last for many years. However, if you don't take the proper precautions, your fence may get bleached and fade, and eventually rot.

Split rail fence for a small ranch farm

It will eventually fail. Thankfully, there are a few basic things you can do to ensure that your round wooden fence will last. We list them down below:

Purchase The Correct Fence Material

While there will always be some maintenance to be done, getting the appropriate wood fence in the first place is critical.

Always look for pressure-treated lumber; untreated lumber should only be used in arid conditions. Untreated lumber deteriorates quickly due to moisture, rot, and vermin, whereas pressure-treated lumber can endure time and exposure to the weather.

If you want to know if the wood you will use for your fence is pressure treated, check out this article: How To Tell If Wood Is Pressure Treated

Perform An Annual Inspection And Repair

A small tall split rail fence

You should walk the entire length of the fence at least once per year. Examine the fence for symptoms of deterioration and decay, such as areas where the rails are warped or do not function perfectly in the fence posts.

Examine the fence posts for signs of deterioration as well. Look for evidence of washed-away dirt around the bottom of every post. Make repairs as soon as you notice evidence of deterioration or degradation.

Use Armor For Fences

Fence post protection prevents lawn maintenance damage and extends the life of your fence posts, decks, patios, pergolas, mailboxes, and other outdoor structures.

The innovative two-piece design offers you application flexibility: install on one side of a privacy fence, a different color on either side of the fence post, or complete coverage around a mailbox post.

The unique corner radius is intended to protect your post while reducing damage to grass trimmer lines.

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Fence Cleaning

Clean your fence once a year or so. This is easiest to do using a pressure washer, but other tools can be used depending on how much time and effort you are willing to invest.

Regular cleanings ensure that mildew, mold, and other organisms do not gain a foothold on your fence.

However, be careful when cleaning your split rail fence with a pressure washer. These washers produce extremely powerful sprays of water.

This will not only eliminate mildew, mold, and filth, but it will also remove the stain from your fence. If you set the force too high or aim the stream in one location for too long, the wood will deteriorate.

Before you begin, check that you have the proper nozzle tip and pressure setting; otherwise, you may do additional harm.

Fence Sealing

Proper sealing and regular resealing of your wood fence can make it last considerably longer. Pressure washing your wood fence entails allowing it to sit for about a week before adding a new coat of sealant or stain to avoid rot and degradation.

Applying sealant and stain can be done in a variety of methods. However, to speed things up, you can use a standard garden sprayer. You only need to ensure that all wood surfaces are completely coated.

The quality of the sealer you choose is also crucial. Mixtures with a high solid content will also need fewer coats, reducing the time needed to apply them.

Find a solution that contains a UV protector as well, and your wood fence will last much longer.

How To Waterproof A Split Rail Fence

Wooden split rail fence for a small road

It all comes down to preparation and employing the appropriate products when it comes to waterproofing your wooden fence. To increase the longevity of your fence, you can follow these steps to seal your fence: 

Step # 1: Prepare and clean your fence.

This is the most critical step before applying a fence water seal or stain. The wood must be clean for the waterproofing to penetrate and adhere to the fence. 

Step # 2: Remove any paint or seal on the fence.

If you previously waterproofed or dyed your fence, you must peel the surface of the wood to remove it. Even if the stain is no longer visible due to weathering, it is still present within the pores of the wood.

This prevents the fresh sealant from penetrating the wood.

Step # 3: Neutralize the wood's pH.

Because the cleaners you employed increased the pH of the wood, you must balance it. After stripping or cleaning the fence, use an acidic wood brightener.

While brightening the wood, the wood brightener neutralizes the pH. It also allows the wood sealant or stain to penetrate.

Step # 4: Apply sealant.

After you've completed all of your fence prep work, you can apply waterproof fence paint, sealer, or stain. Before applying any sealant, ensure that your fence is dry. Look for wetness between the slats and towards the ground.

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If you want to decide whether to seal your wood fence with paint or stain, check out this article: Sealing Wood Fencing: Paint Vs. Stain

What Factors Speed Up The Degradation Of A Wood Fence?

Damaged wooden split rail fence

It is common knowledge that wood can deteriorate over time. And there are several factors that can induce this. The three main causes of wood degradation are: 


If wood is repeatedly wet and dried, exposed to high and low temperatures, and exposed to direct sunlight, the surface can deteriorate. Surface roughening, checking, cracking, and wood cell erosion are all symptoms of this degradation.


Many insects destroy wood. Termites, beetles, and carpenter ants are the three most dangerous insects for wood fence owners to be cautious of.

Some insects target trees or wood that has been partially moist due to contact with the ground or that has become wet due to defective construction, poor maintenance, or past insect activity.

You can usually find these insects with protozoa, fungus, and bacteria that help them digest the cellulose and lignin in the wood.


When fungi that degrade wood metabolize it, the strength of the wood decreases. The amount of strength loss depends on the type of fungus, the wood species, and the lumber dimensions.

What Materials Should You Use For Your Split Rail Fence?

White painted split rail fence for a private ranch

Pine and cedar are the most commonly used materials for this fence type. Rails are typically 8' to 11' long and can be circular, half-round, square, or diamond in shape. The rails slide into the posts' holes, and their weights are the ones that hold them in place.

Posts are designed to receive two or three rails. Two-rail fence posts are about 6' long, and three-hole posts are about 7' long. End, corner, and line posts are all predrilled.

You can check this article to know how durable a pine wood fence is: How Long Does A Pine Wood Fence Last?

In Conclusion

A grass meadow and a small fence next to a small pond

Split rail fences last for about 15 to 20 years if properly maintained. There are several ways to prolong a split-rail fence's life, such as cleaning, sealing, use of wood protection tools, and regular inspection. However, it is equally important to choose the right fence materials that are durable and suit your needs.

On another note, if you want to use a picket fence for your next fencing project, you can check out this article to learn more: Best Wood For A Picket Fence [5 Great Options!]

Before we part ways, you can check these articles on related topics:

How To Paint A Fence That Has Gaps

How To Lighten A Dark Stained Fence?