Many people assume the best time to get a fence installed would be during the spring and summer months. But believe it or not, there are actually more benefits to do your fence installation in the winter!
In this post, our construction manager, Matthew, goes over three reasons why you should consider getting your fence installed during winter.
One of the biggest benefits of installing a fence in the cooler months is that the wood takes longer to dry.
When lumber is picked up from a local lumberyard, it’s typically fresh cut. That means it was a living, growing, and most importantly a feeding tree a couple of months, or even as little as a few weeks earlier.
Moisture Content in the context of trees is defined as the weight of water in the wood divided by the weight of the wood. The Moisture Content (MC) for fresh-cut logs can range from about 50 percent to more than 200 percent!
The lumber does have some time to dry throughout the processing, shipping, and short-term storage at wholesalers and retailers. Lumber is often received at 50-75% MC.
When wood dries, it shrinks. The faster it dries, the higher the likelihood of it cracking, splitting, warping, twisting, or bending. During the summer, in the sun, with pieces spread apart on a fence and with the wind hitting it, the fence wood dries extremely quickly. It can go from about 60% to about 15% MC in a matter of a week or two.
This is the time a piece of wood is most likely to deform from the drying process. During the winter though, with the lower temps and sometimes higher amounts of precipitation, can significantly slow down the drying process. It can take a period of months to bring moisture down to a level that will balance with the relative humidity. Because of the slower drying period, the wood is less likely to deform and break which will ensure a longer lifespan of a fence that will continue to look great.
Along with the wood drying slower, a similar benefit is that the concrete that is used as the footing for all of the posts on the fence will also dry slower. There are three main ingredients that concrete consists of: Portland cement, aggregate (rocks or gravel), and water.
The cement is like a glue and it’s activated chemically by the water. The chemical reaction that occurs is called “curing” and this process takes a long period of time, about a month or so. The curing process is what will solidify and harden the concrete. If the cement in the concrete doesn’t have enough water to react with, the final product will be weak, brittle, and have a much shorter lifespan than if it was cured fully.
During the summer months under direct sunlight, there’s always the risk of drying out too quickly. This wouldn’t leave enough water to complete the chemical reaction. During the winter months, as long as it does not freeze for a long period of time, the concrete will not dry out as fast and is more likely to be stronger and more durable over time.
In general, most people try to schedule fence installations during the spring and summer months. So, it can be hard to get your installation scheduled if a contractor is already fully booked.
Since fewer people are requesting fence installations in the winter, you’ll be more likely to get faster service. This can also lead to a faster response time from the Call Before You Dig service, and any other visits related to the project.