Combating Inflation - Fences

October 31, 2021

In the past eighteen months, the prices for various raw materials to build fences and gates has doubled or tripled in some cases (I wish I was exaggerating). There are a few things that can be done to mitigate the soaring costs. The first is material substitutions. Budget constraints have forced us to search out new materials and processes. When ipe recently reached the $5.90 per lineal foot mark for a 1"x 6" board, we found red Mangaris. It looks and performs similarly to ipe with a cost of $3.09 per lineal foot.

Red Mangaris
Vertical Ipe boards

Another strategy to cut down lumber costs is to go with an inexpensive grade of cedar or redwood and apply a dark stain to it. This concept is the same with clothing; if you buy a cheap suit, go with black or navy blue. One of my favorite recommendations is the Behr solid stain "slate" with knotted tongue and groove redwood. This is just one example of manipulating lumber grades and stains. Another ploy to upgrade the look is run the boards through a planer. This will give the board a milled look on one side, hence, a richer look.

Tongue and groove redwood with Behr Slate stain - rough side
Tongue and groove redwood - Behr Slate stain - smooth side

Steel costs have also skyrocketed. I always believe in being very judicious on what gauge wall to use. For instance, if you are building railings or a steel frame for a fence, it is wise to 14gauge US Steel on the verticals and posts respectively. On the horizontal members, it's okay to use 16gauge walls. They weld together beautifully and will not compromise the structural integrity of the frame.

Steel posts and framed fence

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