I'm installing 300+ LF of fence in the next month or so and am getting ready to start ordering my materials.

My main question is should I dry out my PT lumber before installing, posts rails and pickets? I was considering laying it out in my garage with 2x1" spacers. I live in South Florida and it rains pretty much daily right now. Of course worried about checking and warping, kinda expecting a <.25" gap between pickets.

Thanks for the help!

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    – isherwood
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 19:21

3 Answers 3


Pickets will shrink in width. If you do not want spaces between them wait to install. To avoid splitting you can either predrill or use trim screws


As pointed out by others, timber will shrink when it dries. The opposite of that is that it swells when it gets wet. If there isn't room for it to expand, it will warp.

So dry and paint it before installing it and then repaint another coat.


On the contrary, install when while wet to prevent splitting when you install fasteners, and allows fasteners to set easier. We actually soak pickets in a trashcan full of water before installation.

As far as the footing requirement, I'd tell Florida to suck it. Set your posts to adequate depth (general rule is depth = 1/3 length of height of post), leave the concrete at the home center. Hundreds of thousands of miles of unconcreted 50+ year old fencing across the US and other parts of the world are not wrong.

  • 1
    But this is hurricane country, many areas of both east and west coast have even tougher requirements in some areas 5' is required. If edited to only have the first paragraph I would up vote.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 1:33
  • I know, I live in a hurricane zone myself, and have past experience with Florida codes from my days as a hurricane chaser. Florida has a tendency to listen more to engineers, than to actual experienced professionals in the trades. They're destroying their own homes, one rule at a time. A properly installed fence will outlast any Florida code requirement, in any weather.
    – NPM
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 1:47

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