There are several factors that affect the durability of a residential or a farm fence. These include the material used, as well as the height and the shape of the posts.  The sturdiness of a fence depends on how firmly its posts are set into the ground. If you are planning to install wooden fences on your property, you can choose between round rail posts or square posts. Both have their advantages and offer their unique appearance to your farm. Below is a comparison between the two post types.

Round Rail Fence Posts

If you want a classic look, you can choose round rail posts. These are used with rail fences, with the rails going through the holes in the posts. Round posts are the natural shape of the tree. You are getting more bang for the buck. Plus they are cheaper because a larger post has to be cut down to mill the flat surfaces on faced or dimensional lumber.

While round posts are appealing, their drawback is that they do not have a flat surface to attach boards, and this can comprise sturdiness. A board attached to a round rail fence post has a very small point of contact as compared to square posts (see below). In this way, your fence design options will also be severely limited.

round post with board fence diagram

Square Rail Fence Posts

Square posts are known for their brilliant aesthetics as they provide a ‘finished’’, sophisticated look to the fence. Because of their shape, square posts are easier to measure and cut, which is an added benefit for DIY enthusiasts.

But square posts have a couple of limitations. Firstly, it is not easy to install square posts; they are slightly slower to install than round post. Facing the finished side to your string line or “squaring” the post to add the rails is slower because every side of the round post is a usable side. Of course, this also ensures the durability of these posts, but the building process is nevertheless longer than round rail post installation. And they are more expensive than round as previously stated.

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Secondly, while square posts have a more stable base than round posts, the latter is more resistant to animal blows. Apart from this, square posts are susceptible to water damage and rot because of its exposed corners. But you will not experience this problem with round posts that have a more contained surface.


In the end, which type of post to use is your choice. What you need to keep in mind is your budget, the type of land on which to lay the fence, the installation process, and the maintenance requirements. Overall, round rail posts not only provide the natural look of wooden fences but are highly durable as well.