Need hardwood for a horizontal slat fence - best price?

dragonesseSeptember 2, 2008


We'd like to build a fence like this one:

Our carpenter tells us we need to use a harder wood than the standard fence lumber sold at the big box stores. He recommended mahogany or Brazilian ipe wood.

I'm worried about the cost going through the roof. Is there a more economical wood we could use?

Also, what would be a good place to look for discount wood if we did go with the carpenter's recommendation? We're in the Boston area.

Many thanks for your help!

Here is a link that might be useful:

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My local lumber supplier has sold a bunch of ipé for decking and outdoor furniture. The city I live in has a lot of park benches that they replaced the rotted out slats with ipé and they have patinated to a nice light gray without any care or finish whatsoever.

Sure, you can probably get something else for half the money, but then you'll be replacing it in a few years and be even, except for the labor to rebuild.

The guy that sold it to them told me of his conversation:
"Hello, this is the city of *******. We want some red oak to replace the wood that's rotted out of our outdoor benches."

"We have red oak. I'd suggest just putting in a standing order for every 2-3 years because the new stuff is only going to last that long, no matter what you do with it. Or we can sell you some ipé and you won't ever have to worry about it again."

Here is a link that might be useful: Woodfinder, enter ipe and your zip code

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 8:51PM
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White oak withstands weather much better than red oak.

So does cypress or cedar.

Ipe is better than all of those, however.

Initial cost versus maintenance costs is an age old problem. Prices have always gone up, and recently prices have climbed so fast, the payoff for doing it right the first time is less expensive than maintaining in four years.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 9:10PM
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Agree w/everything above. Just to clarify, hardness isn't what you're really after. What you need is rot-resistance, and that has nothing to do with hardness. Red oak, for example, is quite hard but rots quickly. I'd look at western red cedar for your project. Ipe is strong, hard and rot-resistant, making it great for outdoor structures that have to bear weight or wear well like benches and decks -- it's overkill for a fence, where extreme density and strength serve no purpose and the weight is actually detrimental.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 6:49AM
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Thank you so much for your helpful replies. I feel much better knowing there is general agreement on this here.

I will look into both red cedar and ipe.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 10:00AM
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I just had a fence built that is very much like the photo you shared. We used red cedar on a pressure treated 2x4 frame. The 2x4 frame is constructed like a normally framed wall (16 inch spaced members). We are only cladding cedar on one side currently, but the framing gives the option to clad the other side later if we wish. We are using 1x4 cedar spaced 1/2 inch apart.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 9:41PM
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modernhouse, that's fantastic! Thanks so much!

I'd love to see a photo if you wouldn't mind sharing.

Also, did you have to deal with any kind of an incline at all? We have a stretch that's pretty steep, so I'm wondering if it'll spoil the fence line to have it stagger steeply down...

Here is a link that might be useful: Horizontal fence on a slope

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 10:29PM
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