What Is the Life Expectancy of a Wooden Fence?

Fences are major purchases. HomeAdvisor places the cost of the average fence installation at $2,751, with the cost per linear foot ranging from $13 to $50. For that kind of price tag, it’s essential to make sure you’re getting a high-quality installation that will last for years and will adequately protect your property.

Wooden fences are one of the most popular types of fences, especially for residences. This is because of a combination of factors, such as the relatively low cost, their durability, and the ease of manufacturing and installation. But it’s important to consider the long-term viability of wooden fences when making your final selection.

How Long Do Wooden Fences Last?

Most wooden fences are built to last approximately 15 years. But just like any exterior installation, that estimate depends on a lot of different factors. Some factors that could influence the life of your fence include:

  • The climate: Hot, muggy regions with a lot of humidity can lead to surface-level rot on the fence posts, especially if it’s near the coast. But cold climates can cause just as much damage, with extreme freezes cracking the wood and snowmelt chemicals damaging both the wood and the metal hardware. 
  • The environment: The conditions around the fence line also directly impact how long the fence can last. Wind and livestock can damage the joints, and erosion can make supports tilt and put weight on unsupported beams. If dirt or plants are pressing against the fence, that can encourage rot. Good or poor maintenance can also drastically alter the lifespan of any fence. 
  • The specific type of wood: Different woods last longer and require different levels of maintenance. Woods also need to be carefully matched to the property region to increase the likely lifespan of the barrier.

If you’re looking for a rough estimate so you can measure the cost of different fences per year of use, it’s best to low-ball your estimate and guess they’ll last no more than fifteen years. With a little bit of care, your fence is likely to last beyond that point. Even better, wooden fences don’t fail all at once or even suffer cascading failures like many plastic fence materials. Broken boards and soft support beams can just be replaced as needed.

Different Types of Wood

While the climate may have the biggest impact on the life of your fence, there’s not much you can do to change those conditions. That means carefully selecting your choice of wood is one of the best ways to extend the lifespan of your fence. Here are some of the most common wood types and their typical lifespans:


Cedar is the top choice for a long-lasting fence. Under most conditions, it lasts up to about thirty years, and it turns into a beautiful silvery gray as it ages. Even this longer lifespan can be increased by treating the wood, which bumps the lifespan up to forty years, and using an appropriate sealant that matches your property’s sun exposure and environmental conditions.


Pine is a sturdy option that creates a long-lasting fence without a premium price. It’s one of the most common wood choices. It lasts up to twelve or fifteen years with minimal care. Again, the easiest way to make it last longer is to seal or paint the wood carefully. UV radiation and organic material on the surface can cause a lot of deterioration, and a new topcoat every couple of year keeps both types of damaging contamination at bay. 


Spruce is the go-to choice if you need a fence when you don’t have the budget for it. The fencing material only lasts approximately five years, but it’ll get the job done.

Security Fence & Construction can help recommend and deliver the right fencing materials for your next fence. Contact us today or request a quote to get started.