Expert Guide to Split Rail Fence Costs

Read our comprehensive guide to split rail fence costs! From materials to labor costs, this article will tell you what you need to know about split rail fence pricing.
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
May 11, 2023

Split rail fences, also known as ranch fences or post and rail fences, are a distinctive style of fence made up of evenly spaced posts with two or three horizontal rails running parallel to each other.  Despite their rural origin, split rail fences are now being built around homes in more urban areas as well. They are usually built out of wood and more recently vinyl, or PVC, has become a popular choice for split rail fences as well.

How much does a Split Rail fence cost?

The cost of installing a new split rail fence for your home improvement project will vary depending on a number of factors, including the material, length and terrain. Most homeowners will pay between $1,500 and $3,500 for a new split rail fence, with a national average of about $2,800 across materials. The number of rails and material used will also affect the final project cost. Redwood, cedar and pine will cost less than vinyl. Metal materials will cost more than vinyl.

Split Rail Fence Cost Calculator

It can be hard to forecast the total cost of a split rail fence. Traditionally, homeowners aren't able to get an accurate quote until a fence contractor comes out to see the property. Even then, without getting multiple estimates it is hard to know if the price is fair.

In response to this problem, Ergeon has created a free online fence calculator for you to use to get an estimate. Simply enter your zip code so that the quote is location specific, and then choose from all the different options for fence styles, rail fence materials, and possible add-ons. You can even select if you need any demo or debris removal work as part of your professional fence installation. After you choose the exact fence you are looking for, Ergeon’s fence calculator will give you an estimate of the cost per linear foot for a split rail fence installation.

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Split Rail Fence Cost per Linear Foot

Fence installation cost estimates are usually calculated by the cost per linear feet of fencing. The price per linear foot includes both the cost of fence materials as well as the cost of installation. The national average cost for split rail fences is $20 per linear foot. Depending on where you live and the material you choose to use, that cost could be as low as $11 per linear foot or as high as $29 per linear foot. 

Split Rail Fence Cost By Material

Split rail fences can be made out of a variety of different materials. Those include different types of wood as well as vinyl. Less commonly, split rail fences can also be made out of aluminum, wire mesh, and steel. 


Vinyl has become increasingly popular as the material for split rail fences. Vinyl is a bit more expensive up front than wood but has a longer lifetime and requires less maintenance. It also has other advantages like being impervious to pests and rot, unlike wood, and doesn’t require staining or painting over the years. It is also available in a variety of colors. For a vinyl split rail fence, the cost per linear foot is on average $18 to $29. 


Wood split rail fences can be made of different types of wood. Some of the most common are western red cedar and pine. A cedar split rail fence or pine fence will cost $11 to $20 per linear foot including both cost of materials and installation. If you break down the costs between materials and installation, and compare vinyl and wood, you will see that the installation cost of wood is higher than vinyl. That is because the assembly is more complicated than it is for vinyl fences. 


Some less common types of materials for split rail fences are aluminum, wire mesh and steel. Aluminum is a high cost material which makes it an uncommon choice for split rail fences that enclose large properties like cattle ranches. The cost of materials alone for an aluminum fence is $22 to $32 per linear foot. 

Wire Mesh

When people talk about a wire mesh split rail fence, they are talking about adding wire mesh to a split rail fence that has already been constructed. Some homeowners do this as part of their fence project to keep small pets inside your fence or unwanted animals like raccoons or coyotes out of their yard. Wire mesh is about $1 per linear foot and is an easy DIY project that most homeowners could do themselves after the fence is installed by professionals. 


Steel is another uncommon material choice for split rail fences. Although it is not as expensive as aluminum, it will still cost you $15 to $20 per linear foot for just your materials, not to mention installation costs. 

Split Rail Fence Cost Factors

Height and Length

Most of the time a split rail fence is four feet high, with two or three rails. That is the size fence that the average costs are usually based on. However, if you need a taller fence to keep in horses or livestock a higher fence with more rails might work better. In this case, the fence would be six feet tall. If you want the taller, three-rail version of the split rail fence, you can still come up with a decent price estimate. To do that, just add about 25 percent onto the average cost of the shorter split rail fence. 


The material you choose for your fence posts could be different then the material you want for the rails. Maybe you need a stronger material for the posts, for example a fence meant to keep in large animals would need to be stronger than a front yard decorative fence in the city. If you decide to use metal for the posts then you will need to get a more accurate estimate that takes that into account. The cost will go up slightly if you choose a more expensive material for the posts. 


A gate for a split rail fence will cost less than gates for other types of fences because the split rail fence gate requires less materials. The average cost of a split rail fence gate is $250. That includes both walk-in gates and driveway gates, so it is a good estimate to start with but it is important to understand it could be significantly less or more depending on the size of gate. The materials used in the gate will also affect the cost. Wood like pine and western red cedar will cost less, while vinyl or metal will be more expensive. 

Labor / Installation

The cost per linear foot that we have included in this post have included both materials and labor unless otherwise stated. But if you are still on the fence about whether you want to hire professionals to install your fence or try to do it yourself, it can be really useful to see the cost per linear foot broken down by cost of materials per linear foot and cost of installation per linear foot. 

If you are paying someone to construct your split rail fence, that could cost you around $500 to $1,200 per 150 feet of fencing. The cost will be higher or lower depending on what your property and landscape is like. If it is on a slope or the terrain is rocky and requires more digging, it could cost more to install the fence. 


You may or may not need a permit to build your fence. These are more common with larger industrial projects but it is good to know for sure before you begin. If you do end up needing a permit for your split rail fence, it would likely cost $20 to $60. Permits in residential projects are typically needed if you build above a certain height, like seven feet. This would be uncommon with a split rail fence. To find out for sure, ask your town’s building inspector or the city hall. Many times you can find this out online at your city’s website. 

You may have to submit a fee just for applying for a permit, and when it is approved. Some cities also require a sketch of your plan, photos, and written consent from your neighbors. You also need to know where the underground gas, water, and power lines are located prior to doing any digging. 

Additional Split Rail Fence Costs

There are some circumstances where you will need to pay more than the average price per linear foot. On top of materials and professional installation costs, depending on your property you may need to pay for some other services. These costs can be related to the terrain where you are having the fence installed or there can be additional costs for extras added to your fence beyond the basic setup.

Brush and Fence Removal

If there are a lot of bushes or even trees in the way of where you want your fence to be, you will need to have those removed before starting fence construction. If you have an old fence in place, that is another time where you will need some prep work done to create space for the new fence. You will need to have that old fence removed before starting on the new one!


Sometimes the terrain itself is something that will cause the fence installation to be more difficult, and therefore cost a little more. If the terrain you are building the fence on is very rocky or on a slope, that will take additional work for the people installing the fence so it will add on to the overall cost. 

Hardware and Accessories

Beyond terrain related reasons, there are aesthetic reasons you can choose to pay extra for your fence installation. If you want to add extra hardware or accessories to your fence or fence gate, that is another time when you will need to pay more than the average price per linear foot. Some examples of these are post caps, decorative latches, or lattice tops.


Finally, if you want to have the fence painted or stained, that is an additional cost to the average price. That cost on average is about $7.50 per linear foot.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will a split rail fence last?

The lifetime of your split rail fence depends on the materials that you choose to have it made out of. A wooden fence should last about 15 years, and with proper maintenance it can last up to 20 years. A vinyl fence will last 20 to 30 years. For a longer lasting fence, you will want to try out a metal fence.

How do you install a split rail fence?

A split rail fence can be installed either by professionals or it can be a DIY project. For DIYers, the split rail fence is one of the best options out of the fence styles because it has relatively few parts to connect and requires less equipment. Also, it is traditionally not set in concrete like other types of fences.

The steps to install a split rail fence are pretty straightforward. First, you will need to define the line of the fence and set out the locations for the evenly spaced posts. You will need a post hole digger as about one-third of the posts need to be underground for stability. Start with the end posts then begin setting the rails, minor adjustments as needed. Finally, when everything is set up you can fill in the holes. 

A DIY fence is not typically advisable, even a more simple style like split rail. That's because professionals tend to be better equipped with the tools and expertise needed to construct a beautiful, long-lasting fence.

Do split rail fences need concrete?

Split rail fences traditionally do not need concrete to set the posts in, but it is possible to have your posts set in concrete if you want them to be. This type of fence is not set in concrete because it is designed to be repairable. If the posts are set in concrete, it would be much harder to replace them if they rot or are otherwise compromised. 

What is the cheapest fence to install?

The split rail fence is one of the cheapest types of fences to have installed. Chain link and chicken wire fences are also inexpensive compared to other types of fences. But the split rail fence can usually be found at the top of the lists of cheapest fences!

What are the benefits of a split rail fence?

Split rail fences have many benefits. These include that it is affordable to buy and easy to install. It is a simple way to mark property lines. Also, the split rail fence can conform to different types of terrain and slopes on your property. 

How Ergeon Can Help

If you are interested in getting a split rail fence installed on your property, Ergeon is here to help! You can use Ergeon’s fence calculator to get an estimate for how much materials and installation will cost per linear foot. This quote will be specific to the type of fence, materials and extras you select using the calculator. After you get an estimate with Ergeon’s fence calculator, get in touch with the professionals at Ergeon to figure out the next steps in installing your new split rail fence!

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