Sir Fraser Ritchie, Author at Challenge Fencing Blog

Softwood fencing – a great choice for the environment

Softwood fencing – a great choice for the environment

Softwood fencing & garden products are a great choice for the environment.

When forests are harvested, there is little environmental impact, except for the effect of transport, etc. Trees take most carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when they are young, and some old trees actually emit methane that is a powerful greenhouse gas. If the trees are harvested, and the timber is used in a structure, the carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and not returned (as it would be, if the timber was burnt or decayed naturally). The impact of softwood use on the environment and  the greenhouse effect is therefore beneficial.

Many of our suppliers use slow grown joinery grade Scandinavian redwood that is certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) . Softwood has long be held as the definition of “renewable” or “sustainable” making it the material of choice for consumers for many varied projects and uses, such as softwood fencing.

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) has a set of criteria and principles for sustainable forest management, these include forest production chains of custody which are applied internationally against individual businesses and subject to state forestry third party audits.

PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) accredits national forest certification schemes to its standards, with associated chain of custody systems, for which companies must also undergo independent auditing.

Between them, FSC and PEFC certification cover an area approaching 500 million hectares, or 11% of the total global forest areas and this continues to expand. This divides as 196 million hectares under the FSC scheme, 300 million hectares under the PEFC scheme, with the former having issued 36,000 product chain of custody certificates, the latter 20,000.

These schemes are designed to halt deforestation and forest degradation, support forest growth, promote ecosystem protection and underpin the social and economic benefits of sustainable forestry. Their key focus is tropical regions, but environmental certification has developed most rapidly in Europe, principally due to its existing high forest management standards. Today a quarter of global certified forest area is in Western Europe. The country with the highest proportion of forest certified is Finland, with 81% followed by Sweden at slightly over 60%. The coverage tends to be lower in southern countries, with Portugal and Spain at 12% and Italy 9%. The schemes’ insistence on third-party audited chain-of-custody certification ensures that end products can be tracked back to the certified forest where they originated and can be kept separate from non-certified material along the supply chain.

Challenge Fencing seek out suppliers that hold either FSC and/or PEFC chain of custody, so you can buy products that are sustainable and are making a positive contribution to the well being of the planet.

Posted on August 31st, 2022 Posted In: Advice, Fencing

Tags: , ,


Pressure-treated timber for long term protection

Pressure-treated timber provides long term protection against fungal decay, rot and insect attack but does not prevent weathering and corrosion.

You will see an option on many of our fencing products, for example, to select Pressure Treated timber. This is a timber that has been treated in a vacuum with the latest generation TANALITH wood preservative. This renowned preservative gives a proven, outstanding performance, particularly for timbers intended for use in ground contact applications.

The process involves placing the timber into a treatment vessel using a vacuum & hydraulic pressure to force the TANALITH preservative deep into the structure of the timber. The resulting timber such as garden fence panels or timber fence posts often has performance warranties of up to 15 years.

pressure treated timber

Please see the pressure treatment video below;

Pressure-treated timber with TANALITH can be used with confidence in both above-ground and in-ground situations including construction, fencing, landscaping and engineering applications. When working with pressure-treated wood, we always suggest you wear gloves, eye protection and a dust mask when handling the wood. Also because of the preservatives in pressure-treated wood, it should never be burned.

Please note that it is often harder to paint pressure-treated timber as the very same treatment that allows the material to last outdoors can cause paints to crack and not adhere correctly.

The treated timber is light green in colour and is well suited to environmentally sensitive applications.

Challenge Fencing aim to offer the very best quality fencing & timber garden landscaping products that last longer and save you money in the long run.

Posted on June 8th, 2022 Posted In: Advice

Tags: , ,


Garden Party Time?

Garden party ideas – with the weather starting to improve (hopefully!) and the evenings getting lighter, now is a great time to spruce up your garden for those special summer BBQs and outdoor living.

Outdoor space is such a precious commodity that we all want to make the most of what we have. There are plenty of ways to give your garden an instant lift without having to spend a fortune.

We’ve pulled together a few easy ideas to help you create that perfect outdoor space.

Paint your fence, shed and wooden furniture or treat your deck to a deep clean and anti-slip topcoat of Decking Oil from our range of woodcare treatments & preservatives.

Challenge fencing woodcare products for your garden

Shed and Garden Fence Treatment in 4 colours

Build a raised flower bed, seating area or some steps with our range of railway sleepers.

Garden railway sleepers from Challenge Fencing

A raised flower bed and garden seating area made from railway sleepers

Garden railway sleepers from Challenge Fencing

Steps made from railway sleepers

Build a pergola. Either freestanding, attached to a property or built into a deck using our extensive range of treated timber.

Garden treated timber from Challenge Fencing

Pergolas can be used to create shaded seating areas

Visit the Challenge Fencing Home Page, where you can buy securely online or for home delivery from one of our branches.

Posted on June 1st, 2022 Posted In: Advice, Fencing

Tags: , ,



The Price of Timber These Days

UK Timber Prices

UK timber prices

Timber prices in the UK are very sensitive to market conditions both in Europe and the rest of the world. We take a look at the latest factors that are impacting on UK timber prices.

Here at Challenge we strongly believe in being transparent with all our customers. So, when we face the difficult decision to increase our prices on certain products, we always try to explain the wider market context that has led to the increase, rather than just saying our suppliers are charging us more!

Take sawn timber for example. It may surprise you but the UK is the world’s second biggest net importer (imports less exports) of forest products – only China imports more and our timber imports have been increasing every year for the last 5 years. Combine this with a gradual fall in our own domestic timber production and our UK timber mills and ultimately our suppliers are becoming increasingly exposed to global timber factors.

For example, China has demanded more timber from Europe, the UK’s first option for supply, due to sanctions imposed on Canada, China’s favoured first option for timber. This alone has increased demand, reducing supply & therefore increased prices. Add to this an improving economy in Western Europe driving demand, exchange rate volatility making imports more expensive and our own government’s increased new homes target, many of which are being built using timber-frame techniques and you can see why timber prices are on the increase.

And that’s not all! Latvia has always been an important log supplier to the UK. However, a particularly wet summer last year made log extraction difficult and supply from Latvia has fallen. This is being compounded by a sharpe increase in sea freight and road transport costs and an increased demand for wood to meet the UK government’s incentivised biomass industry.

So, the next time you see a small percentage increase in our product prices, there are many worldwide factors that have an impact on the cost of our gravel boards or fence posts. It is also very likely we are absorbing some of this ourselves so we can continue to offer a good supply of very high quality timber products at competitive prices – but yes mainly it’s due to the weather (in Latvia)!

If you have any questions about our products, please ask. We are on Twitter @Chall_Fencing our Facebook page is @ChallengeFencingLtd or you can email us using the form on our Contact page.

Data Source:


Posted on February 6th, 2018 Posted In: Seasonal

Tags: , , ,


Turn your Double sided fence panels into an Easter Garden Fence

Easter Garden fence panels with wave design and intergrated trellis

Spending a little time researching garden fence ideas can bring structure, texture and definition to your outdoor space. For example you could try searching for garden fence ideas on Pinterest for page after page of great designs liked by other garden enthusiasts.

After a long winter, and with the Easter weekend just around the corner, it’s lovely to be able to get out into the garden again. There is usually a long list of jobs to get the best from your outdoor space, so a little work now will have your garden looking great for Easter and beyond. Spend an hour or so planning what is required, whether it’s replacing or maintaining a garden fence, weeding and mowing, or redesigning some key features to give your garden a whole new look for the Spring/Summer.

Easter Garden Fence Ideas

The garden fence is one element of a garden’s design that’s often overlooked, it’s seen as too practical, hard or heavy to fix. Whilst a run of fence panels main function might be to separate one garden from another, there is a wide choice of panel designs that can really affect the look of your garden.

From the old standard of Featheredge Panels to more modern, continental style panels such as this wave design with integrated trellis.

Garden fence panels, when used imaginatively, can feature eye catching decorations, helpful storage pieces or fun signs. Or why not make your fence stand out with multicoloured stains or paints.

Of course you need to establish the basics such as;

  • good quality posts, whether they are treated to standards for in ground use (look for HC4 treatment) or concrete posts that are dry cast for additional strength
  • pressure treated panels (look for Tanalith E) for extra lifespan which are built from thicker timber with extra framing
  • smooth planned timber for that high quality look and feel
  • Stainless steel fixing for strength and to prevent rust staining
  • Good, strong concrete mix for secure post installation

A good tip is to visit your local DIY store & lift up one of their panels. Then pop down to a dedicated fencing merchant & pick up the same size panel in their yard. You will be surprised just how heavy and sturdy the professional yard panel is. This is a great sign that the fence panel will not warp or break easily and will give you years of service.

Whilst you are at the fencing merchant why not ask them to plan out your fence for you? The best will be delighted to help work out how many fence panels, posts, gravel boards etc you will need. Often they are ex installers themselves so you can rely on their experience. Just try asking the Saturday staff at your local DIY store the same question 🙂

For more information on our range of garden fencing products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local branch of Challenge Fencing today! We hold a huge stock at each of our five branches, so can usually deliver the next or sometimes even the same day.

You could have a brand new looking garden in time for the Easter weekend BBQ’s with our Easter fence panel ideas!

Posted on May 25th, 2017 Posted In: Seasonal

Tags: , , , ,


The Garden Shed – as strong as a tank!

The Challenger garden shed - highest quality celebration price

The Challenger garden shed is back!

To celebrate our 30th birthday, we have brought back our popular Challenger Garden Shed.

With a host of improved features for 2017, the high quality Challenger garden shed remains right up to date, the only thing that isn’t is the very 1987 price!

A shed is a ‘must have’ for most garden owners but type ‘garden shed’ into Google and you will receive over 15M results!  No wonder then that many gardeners are unsure what to look out for, what to avoid and importantly why a shed has a certain feature.

Challenge Fencing is here to help. We have been in the timber business 30 years. We take great pride in supplying only the highest quality fencing, decking and garden timber products, so here’s our guide based on our years’ of experience on buying the very best garden shed.

Quality timber first

Look out for Redwood timber. Unlike it’s cheaper Whitewood cousins, Redwood retains some sap in it’s grain, helping it remain more flexible and less prone to splitting, cracking or knot defects. Then look for pressure treated Redwood timber. Put simply, the timber has a wood preservative forced deep into it’s grain under a vacuum. The result is protection for up to 25 years’ from rot or insect attack.

Traditional craftsman construction

In a race to provide the cheapest online shed, many suppliers cut corners in construction. Whilst this brings the overall price down and provides a great headline,  it also dramatically reduces the lifespan of the shed. It’s one of our over riding principles at Challenge Fencing that we only supply the highest quality products. They may initially cost a little more than some of our competitors but will always work out cheaper in the long run!

There are some easy ways to spot a poorly constructed shed;

  1. Thickness of the timber. It’s obvious but the thicker the framing, cladding, roof and floor the stronger the shed will be and the longer it will last. Minimums to avoid are 12mm or less cladding and 25mm or less framing. A roof of less than 12mm may not even be able to support the weight of the timber and felt!
  2. Use of chipboard, plywood or any similar type of ‘sheet material’. Generally this disintegrates quite quickly once it gets wet.
  3. Cheaper overlap cladding is more prone to expanding and letting water in versus shiplap cladding which is generally stronger and features a small channel to divert water away from the building.
  4. No facia boards to finish off and protect the edge of the roofing felt.
  5. Untreated metal fittings. Without an electroplated galvanised finish, the nails and metal fittings will soon rust and stain the shed.
  6. Plastic rather than toughened glass windows.
  7. Thin low quality roofing felt that easily rips when installed. Look for a mineral roofing felt that lasts for 5 or more years.
  8. No opportunity to view and test the shed. Even if you cannot get to the show site the very fact the supplier is happy for customers to test their shed is a good sign of quality.
  9. A rough, splintered finish is a rushed finish. A quality shed will have smooth often rounded timber.

We have created a handy Buyers Guide for the Challenger garden shed range;

The Challenger Garden Shed - Buyers Guide

Expert advice – FAQ

We are always happy to offer advice and help with any questions you may have about buying a garden shed. If we’ve not covered your question in our FAQ below, please talk to any of our branch sales staff, contact us on Twitter @Chall_Fencing, Facebook @ChallengeFencingLtd or leave a comment below.

Should I paint or treat my new Challenger shed?

Yes, to extend the life of your shed further we recommend treating your new shed with Shed & Fence Treatment or Wood Preservative. Both are available on our website, come in a range of attractive colours & a 5 litre tin should be sufficient for a single coat our largest 10′ x 8′ shed.

What base should I use for my new Challenger shed?

First and foremost your shed base must remain firm and level for years to come to ensure your shed lasts as long as possible. The best solution is a well draining concrete base. For the Challenger garden shed range this needs to be a minimum of 75mm (3″) deep. The base should be 25mm (1″) larger than the shed so rainwater can drain off onto the grass/soil.  An oversized concrete base, wider than the roof eaves, allows water to collect and splash back onto the shed timber, shortening it’s lifespan.

We can supply high quality cement and ballast for your garden shed project. Please use the table below to calculate how many bags of Cement and Ballast you will need for the Challenger shed range.

The Challenger garden shed - concrete base calculator

If you would like some recommendations for concrete base installers and shed installers, please ask our branch sales staff for their local list or see our Branch Information pages

Should I add wooden bearers to my Challenger shed?

Yes, we recommend a wooden bearer base with a damp proof course (a thin strip of spare roofing felt is ideal) on all installations. This provides a physical barrier against water getting into the base of the shed from below and provides airflow underneath the shed. Both will further extend the life of your shed.

We can supply all the timber & fixings you need for each size of Challenger shed, please use the table below to help you calculate the quantities required.

Calculate how many timber bearers are required for each of the Challenger garden shed range

Can I build The Challenger shed myself?

We supply the Challenger shed range flat packed with a comprehensive set of assembly instructions and a complete fittings pack. A competent DIYer should have no problem assembling the shed, although it helps if you have someone else to provide an extra pair of hands!

If you would like to read through the instructions please just click on your preferred size of shed & download the assembly instructions shown in the Product Description.

How much space should I leave around my Challenger garden shed?

We recommend a minimum of 400mm (15″) clearance around all sides, although having 600mm (24″) allows more comfortable room for painting and any maintenance.

If you are positioning the shed against a fence, this clearance can be reduced if you have removable fence panels and can gain access to the other side of the fence. It may also be worth considering treating your new garden shed before assembly, particularly any hard to reach areas.

Do I need planning permission for the Challenger garden shed range?

No, all four garden sheds in the range are under 2.5m high so do not require planning approval. However we always recommend discussing your new shed project with your neighbours when working near a shared boundary.

Does the Challenger garden shed range include roof felt?

Yes, we supply heavy duty mineral roof felt which has a life expectancy of 7+ years’.

Remember you can use off cuts of roof felt as a damp proof course (DPC) on your wooden bearer base, which we recommend is installed with all Challenger sheds.

It is also important to check that no tree or bush branches are likely to scrap against the garden shed roof as this can reduce the lifespan of the mineral felt.

Does the Challenger garden shed come with a padlock?

No, it is supplied with a galvanised sliding pad-bolt. Purchasing a good quality padlock is recommended to keep your belongings secure.

Do you deliver the Challenger garden shed?

Yes, we have a fleet of our own lorries & can usually deliver the next day within the local delivery area of our five branches (Cobham, Woking, Farnham, Maidstone and Gloucester).

When you place an order, our system will confirm if your postcode is within our delivery area. Our sales team will then double check your order, confirm the delivery charge and estimated timing.

Can I adjust the size and/or specification of a Challenger shed?

No, the Challenger garden shed only comes in three Apex roof sizes (6’x4′, 8’x6′, 10’x8′) and one Pent roof size (7’x5′). The window(s) can be placed on either side of the Apex roof design and the door can be placed at either end.

We do however sell garden shed protective paints and treatments and all the materials you require to build a concrete base and wooden shed bearer base.

These will be shown under you online shopping basket as Related Products for you to choose from.

On which side is the door hung?

All Challenger garden sheds have left hand hung doors.

Are the windows opening?

No, all Challenger garden shed windows are fixed for added security.

Do you offer a painting service for my Challenger garden shed?

No, but we do sell a range of attractive colours of paint.

Posted on May 16th, 2017 Posted In: Seasonal

Tags: , ,


Sign up for our Newsletter