How Much Does a Split Rail Fence Cost to Install?
Split rail fences bring to mind sprawling horse farms in the hills of Kentucky and can add character to any home and yard. On average, a split rail fence costs between $1,050 and $6,480 to install.
- On average, a split rail fence will cost between $1,050 and $6,480 to install.
- The main factors affecting the total cost include the fence length and height, the fence material, the number of rails, and the local cost of labor.
- Split rail fences have many benefits, including affordability, ease of installation, a rustic aesthetic, and low maintenance requirements.
- It’s typically recommended that homeowners hire a professional to install a split rail fence—this can help ensure the fence is stable and can withstand the elements.
When deciding on the best type of fence to install, a homeowner will be faced with many different choices. Will a chain link fence suffice for their needs, or should they consider a wooden privacy fence? What kind of material will best fit their needs and budget? Homeowners looking for an affordable and attractive option that’s easy to install may want to consider a split rail fence. Commonly found in rural areas to mark property lines or contain livestock, split rail fences offer a rustic aesthetic at a relatively low price.
But just how much does a split rail fence cost to install? According to Angi, this project can range in price from $1,050 to $6,480. HomeAdvisor lists split rail fence cost per acre at $9,960 to $24,900—a large range that will depend on several factors, such as the size and material of the fence and the cost of labor. Fencing a small area with an affordable material such as wood is likely to fall toward the lower end of the range, while fencing a large area with a five-rail aluminum fence will likely reach, and possibly exceed, the top end of the range. This guide will cover the factors that affect split rail fence cost, the types of material used for split rail fences, and the benefits of choosing this type of fence. It will also explain the pros and cons of self- or professional installation, the ways homeowners can save money on fence installation cost, the most important questions to ask contractors before hiring, and the most commonly asked questions about split rail fence installation.
Factors in Calculating Split Rail Fence Cost
When calculating split rail fence cost, homeowners and contractors will take several factors into account. These include the fence length, height, and material; the number of rails to be installed; the cost of labor; and the home’s geographic location.
Like the cost of other types of fences, split rail fence cost is primarily based on the total linear footage of the fence. The price per linear foot depends on the materials used to build the fence but typically falls between $4 and $12. A simple split rail fence with two rails will likely cost closer to $4 per linear foot, while a more complex design with multiple rails will probably run a homeowner closer to $12. Including labor, it costs approximately $10 to $30 per linear foot to install a split rail fence.
A typical split rail fence is 4 feet tall, but some homeowners may prefer a taller fence, especially if they are using the fence to contain livestock or household pets. A 6-foot fence will typically cost 25 percent more to install than a 4-foot fence. The reason for this is that a taller fence will require more materials, and may take longer to build, which can lead to higher labor costs. This is the same reason a privacy fence costs more to install on average than a split rail fence.
A homeowner can have a split rail fence built from several different materials, some of which are more expensive than others. Cedar and pine are among the cheapest materials at $8 to $12 per linear foot for materials only. Aluminum is the priciest material option, costing $22 to $32 per linear foot for materials. These and other fencing materials are discussed in more detail below.
Number of Rails
A traditional split rail fence has two rails, but homeowners can choose to build theirs with more rails if they prefer. Since more rails equals more material, the price will be higher for a split rail fence with four or five rails. The following table shows the cost of materials for a 100-foot split rail fence with two, three, four, or five rails.
|Number of Rails||Cost (Materials Only)|
|Two||$200 to $800|
|Three||$300 to $1,200|
|Four||$400 to $1,600|
|Five||$500 to $2,000|
The average cost for split rail fence installation and labor comes in at $500 to $1,200 for 150 linear feet of fencing, or around $3 to $8 per linear foot. Labor can make up a significant portion of the total project cost—especially if the fence is being installed on rocky terrain, on an incline, or around landscaping.
Like the cost of many other projects, the cost to build a split rail fence can vary depending on the home’s location. The cost of both labor and materials tends to be higher in more heavily populated areas, such as cities, and lower in rural areas where there are fewer homes. The following table lists the average cost to install a 4-foot tall, 360-foot-long split rail fence in several different cities.
Additional Costs and Considerations
In addition to the main cost factors, homeowners may find that they need to add other costs to the overall pricing for their post and rail fence cost. These include the cost for surveys and permitting, landscaping work such as land grading or tree removal, old fence removal, the installation of gates, and finishing touches such as painting or staining the fence.
Surveys and Permits
Depending on the home’s location and the installation location of the fence, a homeowner may need to pay for a property survey and/or a permit. A survey will come into play if the fence will enclose the entire property or if it will be placed close to a property line. Permit requirements depend on the municipality, but in general a contractor will be able to tell a homeowner whether they require a permit to complete the project and in many cases will procure the permit on behalf of the homeowner. The cost to complete a property survey and get a permit for the fence project will typically cost between $125 and $250, though the actual cost will vary depending on location. Homeowners may also need to pay their utility company to come out and mark underground utility lines—this costs an average of $75 to $100.
Split rail fencing is ideal for properties that have rolling hills, but in some cases a slope might be too steep to install the fence. In that case, a contractor may need to excavate and regrade the land in order to properly install the fence. This can add between $900 and $3,000 to the total project cost.
Tree or Debris Removal
In some cases, there may be trees or other landscaping debris in the way of the planned fence location. Before the contractor can install the fence, the trees must be removed, often by a professional tree removal company. This can cost approximately $200 to $2,000 per tree, so if a homeowner has heavily wooded land, they may choose to build the fence elsewhere to save on the total cost of the project.
Old Fence Removal
If the new split rail fence is replacing an old and worn-out one, the homeowner will want to consider the cost to remove the old fence. Like fence installation, fence removal is typically calculated by linear foot. While the exact cost can depend on the type and amount of fence, homeowners can expect to pay between $3 and $5 per linear foot for old fence removal.
Gates, Doorways, and Accessories
Adding a gate or doorway to a split rail fence costs between $100 and $200 per gate. Smaller fences may not require a gate, but a fence enclosing a large property or farmland will likely need at least one gate, and probably more. Homeowners may also choose to add accessories such as wire mesh, lighting, or decoration—each of these additions will add to the overall fence installation cost.
Installing wire mesh on a split rail fence can increase security and is often chosen by pet owners or parents with small children. It can also act as a deterrent, keeping animals such as foxes or coyotes out of a garden or pasture. Split rail fence with wire mesh cost is relatively low, with wire mesh pricing at $0.60 per linear foot, and can even be a DIY addition for a handy homeowner, though a contractor can also install it while building the fence.
Painting or Staining
A pine or cedar fence will likely need to be painted or stained after installation and every few years thereafter to protect it from the elements and help prolong its life. This will typically cost a homeowner between $750 and $4,250 on top of the fence installation cost. Land owners building a split rail fence simply to contain livestock may choose to skip this cost, while homeowners building a split rail fence for aesthetic reasons will want to make sure they include this in their budget.
Split Rail Fence Cost by Type of Material
Homeowners may think a split rail fence is always made of wood, but there are actually several types of materials a homeowner can choose from. These include aluminum, cedar, composite, pine, steel, and vinyl, with wood split rail fence cost at the low end and aluminum at the high end. The following table and section list the per-linear-foot cost for each type of fence material.
|Material Type||Cost Per Linear Foot (Materials Only)|
|Aluminum||$22 to $32|
|Cedar||$8 to $12|
|Composite||$10 to $25|
|Pine||$8 to $12|
|Steel||$15 to $20|
|Vinyl||$10 to $25|
Aluminum is not a common material choice for a split rail fence, partly because of its high cost of $22 to $32 per linear foot for materials only. However, it is a durable material and requires little maintenance, which might make the higher cost worth it for some homeowners.
While aluminum is usually the most expensive fence material, cedar is among the cheapest fence ideas with a cost of $8 to $12 per linear foot. However, labor costs can be higher for this type of fence because it requires more assembly than other materials, making the total cedar split rail fence cost between $12 and $30 per linear foot, including labor. For a 150-foot fence, homeowners can expect to pay between $1,800 to $4,500.
Composite has the look of wood and feel but without the maintenance required for a cedar or pine split rail fence. While composite is often a good choice for a homeowner looking for an affordable and long-lasting material, it can become brittle when exposed to cold temperatures, which means homeowners in colder states will likely want to choose a different material. Homeowners can expect to pay between $10 and $25 per linear foot for materials, or between $15 and $33 per linear foot for labor and materials combined. Total installation for a 15-foot composite fence will cost between $2,250 and $4,950.
Like cedar, pine is generally an affordable material for a split rail fence. It costs between $8 and $12 per linear foot for materials, and the total cost of installation ranges from $12 to $30 per linear foot. This equates to a total cost range of $1,800 to $4,500 for a 150-foot fence. Many homeowners will want to stain or paint a pine fence to help protect it from the elements, which can add to the overall cost of the project.
Steel is a durable fence material, but it can be relatively expensive. The cost for materials only for this kind of fence runs between $15 and $20. Like aluminum, the durability and relatively low maintenance requirements of a steel split rail fence could make the cost worth it for some homeowners.
Like composite, vinyl can take on the appearance of wood, but the texture is smooth. Also like composite, vinyl can become brittle in cold weather, so homeowners in cold climates may want to rethink vinyl fence cost and go with a more durable material. A vinyl split rail fence costs between $10 and $25 per linear foot for materials or between $15 and $33 per linear foot including installation. The total project cost for a 150-foot vinyl fence is between $2,250 and $4,950.
Benefits of Installing a Split Rail Fence
With so many popular fence styles to choose from, why would a homeowner pick a split rail fence? This style of fence has numerous advantages, including affordability, a rustic aesthetic, easy installation, and low maintenance requirements.
With an average price range of $1,050 to $6,480, a split rail fence is a relatively inexpensive choice, as it requires less material than other fence types, such as a wooden privacy fence. This makes split rail fences an attractive option for homeowners who have a lot of land to enclose, and it’s why it’s often more common to see split rail fences in rural areas than in urban or suburban ones.
Ease of Installation
Split rail fences are fairly simple structures that don’t require a lot of material, which makes them relatively quick and easy to install. Homeowners who have experience with carpentry may be able to install a split rail fence as a DIY project, though in many cases hiring a professional can result in a cleaner finish.
Since split rail fences are often found in rural regions, they can bring to mind sprawling horse farms or large ranches. Many homeowners want to add this rustic aesthetic to their own home, whether they live in the countryside or the city. There are numerous options when it comes to material and color, which allows homeowners to choose a fence that will complement their landscaping without overshadowing it.
Compared to a wooden privacy fence, a split rail fence is very low maintenance. There is less material to maintain, and that material is typically treated before installation to help the fence withstand the elements. Even if a homeowner chooses to paint or stain their fence, they will have much less ground to cover and can complete the project faster than they could stain or paint a full wood fence.
Split Rail Fence Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Installing a split rail fence could be a DIY project for a homeowner with construction experience willing to put in the work. Going the DIY route can certainly save a homeowner money on their fence installation, which makes it an appealing option for those who can handle the labor. However, before committing to DIY fence installation, it’s important for a homeowner to understand exactly what this project entails.
To start, any fence installation will involve digging holes in which to place the fence post. The easiest way to do this is by using a powered auger—a piece of equipment that the average homeowner likely doesn’t have. That means the homeowner will either need to dig the holes by hand (which can be grueling and long work) or rent an auger, which adds to the overall project cost. The best fence companies will have all the equipment needed to dig fence post holes and have experience doing so, which can also make the process go faster and more smoothly.
In addition, fence installation requires precision. There is a lot of measuring involved to make sure the finished fence is level and strong. Failure to properly measure and install a fence could make it more prone to collapsing or blowing over during a strong windstorm. A professional fence installer will make sure the fence is plumb and stable so the homeowner can feel confident it will stay in place for years to come.
While there are some cases where it’s worth taking on a DIY project to save money, split rail fence installation is typically best left to the professionals. Not only will the finished fence be secure and look good, but it will also be installed much faster by a contractor who has experience in this line of work, making it worth the money for many homeowners. Using a split rail fence cost estimator can help homeowners come up with a realistic budget for their project.
How to Save Money on Split Rail Fence Cost
Like any home improvement project, installing a split rail fence can get expensive quickly, especially if you choose to add unique features and customizations. While choosing the cheapest material is one way to save money, there are other ways to lower split rail fence cost per foot without compromising on quality.
- Purchase materials yourself. If you have the time to shop around for quality materials at a low price, you might be able to save money.
- Get multiple quotes. While the first quote you get might seem like a good deal, it’s advisable to get several quotes or use a split rail fence cost calculator to compare and choose the one that works best for your budget.
- Use fewer materials. Going with a two-rail fence or fencing a smaller area can help decrease the total project cost.
- Use cheaper materials. Wood fences made of pine or cedar are typically cheaper than options like composite or aluminum, and they can last a long time with the proper maintenance.
- Opt for winter installation. Most fence installation companies are busiest in the spring, summer, and fall, so booking your installation for December through February could score you a discount.
Questions to Ask About Split Rail Fence Installation
When homeowners are hiring a professional for a home improvement project, it’s important that they choose someone who will complete the job well and on time and budget. Asking each contractor the following questions can help weed out any unsuitable contenders, allowing the homeowner to find a good and affordable match.
- What fence material is best for this project?
- Does my property have any challenges that could affect the fence installation process?
- What exactly is included in my quote?
- Are you licensed and insured to complete this type of work?
- How long have you been in business?
- Can I see some examples of your past work?
- Do you have any references?
- How long will the project take?
- Do you handle permits?
- Will you contact my utility companies, or will I need to do so prior to the start of the project?
- Do you offer a payment plan, and if so, what are the details?
- Do you offer a warranty?
Before beginning a split rail fence installation project, homeowners may have additional questions to make sure they fully understand the process. The following are some common questions homeowners have about this project, along with their answers, to help provide clarity.
Q. Do split rail fences need concrete?
Although concrete can help stabilize fence posts, especially in the end and corner posts, it’s not always necessary. A professional fence contractor can advise the homeowner as to whether or not they need to budget for concrete split rail fence costs for added stability.
Q. Does Home Depot sell split rail fencing?
Home Depot and other national home improvement stores do sell split rail fencing, but it’s usually in the form of vinyl panels. A homeowner looking for a wooden split rail fence will likely need to source the material from a lumber supplier or have their contractor purchase the materials on their behalf.
Q. How do I decide which fence material to use?
The answer to this question will vary from homeowner to homeowner. Every type of fence material has its pros and cons, so it’s important for a homeowner to do their research to determine which material option will work best for their needs. For example, a wood fence is typically an affordable option and can be aesthetically pleasing, but it requires maintenance in order to stay in good shape. An aluminum fence, however, will last a long time and require minimal maintenance, but it will cost a lot more to install than a wood fence. Homeowners can confer with their fence contractor to decide the best fence material for their needs and budget.
Q. What is the cheapest fence to install?
When it comes to split rail fences, the cheapest type to install will be a pine or cedar fence with two rails. Another option is to budget for chain link fence cost—this type of fence is cheap to install and can be a good choice for pet owners who want a simple solution to contain their animals.
Q. What’s the best type of fence for my property?
This answer will also depend on the homeowner’s needs and requirements. A home located in a populated area with close neighbors may benefit from a wooden privacy fence, which can help keep away prying eyes while the residents enjoy their backyard. A rural home with a lot of land is typically better suited for a split rail fence, which doesn’t offer much privacy but can be an affordable (and attractive) fencing option for large areas.
Q. Is it hard to repair a fence?
That depends on the cause and extent of the damage. A fence that has a mildew coating can be cleaned with a pressure washer and then stained. A sagging gate can be fixed with a DIY repair kit or a quick visit from a professional. But if an entire section of fence has collapsed, the repair is more extensive and can take more time and money to complete.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, LawnStarter