The Case of the Shrinking Fence Boards

Wood naturally responds to weather. It expands during wet seasons, shrinks during dry spells, and when water freezes in the winter it can crack and splinter. This is the main reason why boards warp and lose their original beauty. If you live in the Pacific Northwest you know our weather changes more than our socks, so what can you do?

Choice of Wood

Some types of wood are naturally more resistant to moisture than others. Western Red Cedar, for example, is far denser than pine and can endure our spastic weather for years longer. Of course, if you really don’t want the hassle of shrinking boards, vinyl is the way to go.

Fence Design

All wood types, regardless of density, go through some degree of change. However, fences can be designed to better handle the shifts between cold rain and hot sun, which may add years its life. For example, a fence with no gaps or overlapping boards will maintain full privacy even as the wood bends and flexes.


With a little love and care, shrinking can be minimized. Staining or painting boards helps prevent moisture from soaking into the grain. It’s also important to stain the ends, that’s where the wood is most vulnerable. It’s recommended you stain your fence every 2-3 years to keep it going strong for as long as possible.

To learn more, check out our article on deck staining

If maintenance is just not your thing, check out our vinyl fences and never have to worry about moisture again! Learn more about vinyl fences >

Looking for a builder who knows how to make your fence last through the seasons? Reach out for a free estimate.