KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE OUT! TREATED PINE FENCE IN!
Knoxville, Tn – local fencing companies are replacing a multitude of “KNOCK OFF CEDAR” fences that were installed between 6 to 10 years ago! These cedar fence panels rot out quickly usually in 4-5 years and finally fall down between 6- 10 years! The replacement fencing if wood will be treated pine fencing, or homeowners may upgrade to vinyl or aluminum with lifetime warranties. What happens to all that termite infested cedar fencing…landfills!!!
WHAT IS A “KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCING”
“KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE” is a light weight northern cedar of light color. Also goes by the names of red cedar, swamp cedar, cypress cedar, chinese cedar, atlantic cedar, fir, spruce, mid atlantic cedar…you get the drift. Called a “KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE” because it is ofter confused (intentionally by some salesmen) with the very expensive, longer life, WESTERN RED CEDAR. For an eye opener, see our CEDAR BAIT & SWITCH blog articles dealing with cedar fencing.
KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCING FILLING UP LANDFILLS
All of this rotted out and termite infested fencing is being replaced with treated pine fencing warranted against termites and fungus for 10 years. What happens to the old “KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE“? Since it is rotten away the cedar fencing is no longer of any use. The subterranean termite damage is usually severe enough to make it a total loss. You could burn the cedar fencing in a bon fire, but there is just way to much cedar fencing to burn. So most of the “KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE” will end up in the county landfill. What a waste of valuable space.
DOES “KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE” COST THE SAME AS WESTERN RED CEDAR
Great question! First, let’s look at where the WESTERN RED CEDAR comes from and where the “KNOCK OFF CEDAR” comes from.
WESTERN RED CEDAR is the cedar product you probably think about when talking about cedar fencing, cedar arbors, and cedar house siding. It is a great long lasting lumber and is naturally resistant to insects because it creates a chemical in the wood itself called tannin. This tannin repels fungus and termites and other wood eating insects. This old growth WESTERN RED CEDAR lumber is a slow growth lumber and produces higher amount of natural tannin than does the “KNOCK OFF CEDAR“.
Old growth WESTERN RED CEDAR TREES are about 200+ years and super large trees. The KNOCK OFF CEDAR trees are normally 20 to 30 years old, small diameter of less than 12″ and contain a high percentage of the lumber “SAPWOOD“. This SAPWOOD has little resistance to insects and the first part of the fence to deteriorate.
These KNOCK OFF CEDAR lumber pickets will usually be only about 3” or less wide.
WHY ARE ALL OF THOSE BOARDS SO NARROW?
SMALLER TREES = NARROW PICKETS = LESS RESISTANT LUMBER
Sometimes a long narrow picket board looks great on a fence, but a 6′ long 3″ wide picket board is stretching the limit. Normally, we will use narrow fence pickets on spaced picket fencing up to 5′ tall. Tall, narrow pickets nailed tightly together will result in a busy look for the fence. The privacy and shadowbox fencing with 3″ pickets 6′ tall looks more like a crude and busy colonial stockade fence rather than a complement to the home. Now don’t get me wrong, the 3″ wide pickets do have their place in the natural wood fencing as a true picket fence, but not a privacy or shadowbox fence.
Since the lumber comes from harvestable young trees with small diameters, the picket fence boards HAVE TO BE NARROW to get as much lumber out of the tree as possible. Notice the different colorations in the new KNOCK OFF CEDAR picket boards? The sapwood is a different color than the heartwood. The soft sapwood quickly rots away and is easily eaten by subterranean termites and mold, and fungus. KNOCK OFF CEDAR pickets with sap wood (the outer layer of the trunk) and heartwood in the same board will rot faster than a picket of all heartwood. You may notice a lot of large loose knots on the KNOCK OFF CEDAR PICKETS. This is yet another indicator that the cedar fence is a low cost “KNOCK OFF CEDAR“. Large loose knots, (represents a tree limb) reflect the nature of the tree as being a young tree 15 to 30 years old (compare to WESTERN RED CEDAR at 200+ years growth).
The costs associated with REAL WESTERN RED CEDAR quality lumber in picket costs about $3.00 per picket board. While the costs of the “KNOCK OFF CEDAR” will range from #1 clear ($1.25) to #3 and less ( 45 cents). The fence companies in Knoxville pushing this product carries all of the grades and are known for running BAIT and SWITCH on your lumber. Even if you specify the lumber as WESTERN RED CEDAR you will also need to SPECIFY THE GRADE of the WESTERN RED CEDAR! And don’t forget to look for the end tags stapled to the lumber stating WESTERN RED CEDAR and grade mark!
WHY DOES THE “KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE” FAIL?
In East Tennessee we live in the TERMITE BELT, encompassing several states that have mild temperatures and moist climates. Ideal for termites, nature’s clean up crew. Subterranean termite colonies will reach 1 million to 2 million termites before they split off to form a new colony. The worker termite will travel up to 3 football fields distance from the colony searching for wood food sources, (your unprotected fence posts, fence) and they are active ALL YEAR LONG!. Knock Off Cedar Fence has little natural resistance to these termites and the natural occurring resistance is less in younger trees than olders trees. Lumber with the sapwood rots faster than the heartwood, with small trees the Knock Off Cedar has sapwood in the lower grades.
CAN I STILL GET 5′ HIGH PICKET FENCING IN THE SAME STYLES?
Most DEFINITELY!!! Almost any style created with wood pickets fencing can use CEDAR OR PINE. 4′ high is the most common picket fence, 5′ high picket fencing is becoming more popular.
So here is the question! If you stain your fence pine (treated for termites) and KNOCK OFF CEDAR will look the same. They will cost about the same to purchase. But in 5-8 years you will need a REPLACEMENT FENCE FOR THAT KNOCK OFF CEDAR FENCE!
Why buy that backyard fence TWICE? Do your homework before you drop a couple thousand dollars on your backyard fencing!