How much does a split rail fence cost?

Split rail or “ranch” style fencing provides rustic charm and durability to any environment. As with any construction project, do your homework first or you’ll shell out a small fortune and wind up with little to show for it. You could hire a contractor, which ensures the job will last. Outside help will cost you around £3,250.

You could also do the work yourself. Applying your own muscle can save about half, at least in your wallet. Your time and effort will more than cover the difference.

First things first

The first step in determining the exact cost of your project is to decide the type of wood you want. Pine, most common for fencing, is generally the least expensive. You may also choose cedar or redwood, but you’ll pay a bit more for them.

A 10-foot Western red cedar naturally decay-resistant fence rail runs £5.40 each. Each post will cost you about £6. Since exact pricing depends on location, your best bet is to check with your local lumber company or hardware store.

While you’re deciding what kind of wood to use, measure the area where you’ll be installing the fence. Square-shaped yards are easiest to measure. However, since square-shaped yards are rare in rural areas where split rail fences are most common, you’re better off measuring all sides. Remember the carpenter’s adage: Measure twice, cut once.

Add the lengths of all sides to determine the exact rail length. Measured in linear feet, or the number of feet in a straight line, rails come in either eight- or 10-foot sections. For example, you’ll need 400 linear feet of fence rails for a 100-foot by 100-foot area. To build a fence around an acre lot you’ll need 1,070 linear feet of fencing.

Keep in mind that since fence rails overlap at the posts, sometimes by as much as a foot, you’ll likely need to buy an extra rail or two. You’ll probably need an extra post or two as well. You can always return any unused and uncut material.

Don't forget the extras

Once you’ve tallied all your lumber don’t forget about the concrete for the footers under each post. A 10-pound bag of Quikrete adds £1.60 to your bottom line. You’ll need one bag per post. Another alternative is to buy larger bags and mix only a portion of the concrete as needed.

No fence project would be complete without gates. To complete the gate, you’ll need latches and hinges. A seven-inch black powdercoat heavy gauge steel hinge set, which includes a pair of hinges, one latch and several screws, is £9.70.

If you need to keep pets in and critters out, consider applying some wire mesh to the inside of the rails. A 60” x 50’ roll of Redbrand 14 gauge galvanised welded wire mesh runs £26.

The prices and options may seem endless and overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. A little shopping and paperwork now will save you a ton of aggravation and legwork later.

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About the Author

Ben J. Hanneman works out of his home in Southwest Virginia. A former sports editor/photographer trapped in the body of an NBA forward, he enjoys spending time with his family, taking pictures of them and then writing about the incredibly creative, insightful and witty things they come up with to describe their world.