When it's time for a new fence, one of the big questions you need to answer is what type of wood you'd like. While at first glance some wood types may look very similar, there's more than meets the eye!
Redwood is one of the most commonly used wood types in California- and for good reason. It's durable, resistant to rot and insects, and less subject to swelling and shrinking than other kinds of wood, meaning it will last longer and be less likely to crack or split. Plus, the reddish tones of the wood give it an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Not all Redwood is the same, though! In fact, there are many different 'grades' of Redwood. The grade refers to the characteristics and appearance of the lumber. Some of the most commonly offered Redwood grades are: Redwood Con Common, Redwood Con Heart, and Redwood Clear Heart.
Below, we've gone into more detail about these different Redwood grades to help you pick the right one for your new fence!
"Con Common" is short for "Construction Common", which as you might guess, indicates that this Redwood grade is popular for construction projects.
Redwood Con Common is often the standard option for fence projects because of its affordability. It is sourced from the outer edge of the log (sapwood) and has some color variations including shades of ivory, tan, brown, pink and red. Con Common will also have visible 'knots' where the branches used to be.
Due to the fact it's sourced from the outer edge of the log, Redwood Con Common can be a bit more porous than the other grades- meaning it will likely need a kickboard so it's not in direct contact with the ground soil.
Redwood Con Heart is sourced from closer to the center of the log, also known as the "heartwood'" Compared to Redwood Con Common, its color is more uniform and has fewer visible knots.
Redwood Con Heart is usually more resistant to pests and rot, especially during the first years. This means it can be in direct contact with the ground (versus requiring a kickboard to raise it off of the ground.) This higher quality and durability makes Redwood Con Heart more expensive than Con Common; it's usually about 20% more expensive.
A possible add-on for this Redwood grade is Redwood Con Heart S4S, a lumber that has been sanded on all four sides so that it's very smooth. This option is significantly more expensive, but a good option for anyone who wants their fence to have a smooth and uniform appearance.
For both Con Common and Con Heart, it is recommended that you get a yearly sealant to keep the fence in good shape. This is typically applied 2-3 weeks after the fence is installed.
Redwood Clear Heart includes specially selected pieces of heartwood that are virtually free from knots, sapwood and other defects. This creates a very clean and 'clear' appearance for the pickets. The functionality of Clear Heart is essentially equal to Con Heart, but some people find the uniform appearance more visually appealing overall. Clear Heart is more expensive than Con Common and Con Heart.
Clear Heart grade lumber is also more scarce to come by for most construction companies- so check to make sure this is available at the time of your fence inquiry!
The right grade for you ultimately depends on your project budget and style preferences. You can read more about choosing the right fence for you here. Overall, no matter which Redwood grade you select, you're making a long lasting investment in your property!