Wood is a natural product that works beautifully for fences, decks, railings, and gates. But unlike other materials (vinyl, iron, chain link) there can be pronounced changes over time. We always say, “Imagine leaving your dining room table outside for five years.” You wouldn’t expect it to be in showroom condition after prolonged exposure to the elements. Your fence or deck is no different.

Customers often notice splits and cracks in their fence posts first because they’re concerned about the structurally integrity of their project. Fortunately it’s rarely an issue. In fact it’s not unusual for them to be there from the day of installation. The cracks are as natural as the wood itself and keep the post from twisting out of shape, particularly for pressure treated lumber.

split post

The arrows show splits in a pressure treated post. Structurally they are not a problem. Without them the post would twist and bend out of shape.

Board splits are also fairly routine, but they don’t attract as much attention because it’s largely an aesthetic matter. Also, boards are generally easier to replace than posts. A common scenario: after a few years the homeowner notices more than a few cracks have widened into splits. She decides to replace the affected boards and uses paint or stain to help blend in the new material. She could have gone with a more expensive vinyl fence from the start and taken maintenance costs off the table. Both approaches have their pros and cons and different homeowners may see things differently. The important thing: her purchase was an informed one, she did the research.

wood cracks and splits

The arrow shows a crack in the boards of a deck’s skirting.

Another common situation arises with privacy fences. If you’ve bought Tongue & Groove boards, no problem, the edges dovetail together for full privacy. But if they’re not T& G the boards will shrink over time and there will be spaces between them. Again, it’s not an issue, structural or otherwise. Many folks like the look. But it’s something you should be aware of before buying.

wood gaps

The arrow shows a gap in wood boards that were originally touching when the fence was installed. It’s a natural development as wood shrinks over time.

Eased edges can also contribute to the spacing. You’ll see it in lumber that comes straight from the yard. Wood missing along the edges is common in rails as well as posts and boards. It’s not concerning for any of them as long as the effect is not extreme.

eased edges

The arrows show eased edges in a stack of pressure treated lumber.

At Fence-All we’ve always believed an informed customer is a happy customer. That means laying out the pros and cons of all the products we carry. We encourage folks to research not just on our site, but with our competitors as well. And of course our reps will always be happy to tell you more.

Happy summer,
The Fence-All Team