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(ARA) - It's important to make smart choices when you build a fence because you will be looking at it for quite some time. Redwood is a popular choice because of its natural beauty and because it holds up well in all types of weather. Whether you are building a utilitarian, hard-working barrier fence or sprucing up the front yard entry to your home, a redwood fence can do the job in style.

Most fences use a similar support structure made up of posts and rails. The style and character of a fence comes from the choice of fence boards and their position and spacing. Other elements, such as lattice or complementary materials, will also give your fence a sense of style. Gates become the focal point for a fence, so it's worthwhile to give them special attention. A trellis or pergola over a gate often provides the perfect accent.

Posts for a redwood fence are usually made from 4 by 4 or 6 by 6 Construction Heart grade redwood. This grade contains knots and durable redwood heartwood. Fence rails, which run horizontally, are usually 2 by 4 or 2 by 6 redwood. Fenceboards can be anything from a standard pre-cut 1 by 6 board to a custom-cut pattern of your own design.

Experts recommend that all pieces of redwood be coated with a water- repellent finish that contains a mildewcide and sun-blocking ultraviolet inhibitor. Various color and design effects can be achieved by using clear, bleaching, semitransparent or solid body finishes. Fortunately, no other wood takes and holds finishes better than redwood, making it one of nature's most maintenance-free building materials.

Good fences do make good neighbors, so it is important to consider the view from both sides of your redwood fence. Some fences look wonderful on your side, yet present neighbors with a less appealing view. Other designs look equally attractive from both sides. A friendly talk with your neighbors can lead to a design that pleases all parties, and they may even be willing to share the cost of materials and labor.

The California Redwood Association publishes a 16 page booklet, Redwood Fences for All Reasons. It shows dozens of idea-starting color fence photos which are accompanied by how-to details and material specifications. It also contains a construction guide which takes the do-it-yourselfer through every step of the designing and building process. For a copy, send $2.50 to California Redwood Association, Dept-FNA-05, 405 Enfrente Drive, Suite 200, Novato, CA 94949 or call toll free: (888) 225-7339. For other project plans and redwood information, log on to

Courtesy of ARA Content