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There are many ways a thoughtfully designed fence can touch your life, especially when you work with redwood - one of nature's most renewable, beautiful and enduring materials. A redwood fence addition is a valuable extension of your home and calls for as much attention to its purpose, style and design as if you were adding another room.

For those planning a fence project, the California Redwood Association is offering a new 16-page booklet, "Redwood Fences for All Reasons." It shows dozens of idea-starting color fence photos that are accompanied by how-to details and lumber sizes. It also contains a construction guide which takes the do-it-yourselfer through every step of the designing and building process.When planning a fence addition, remember that it can fulfill many functions. For instance, a perimeter fence is an attractive way to separate your property from the neighbor's and to more fully personalize the land around your home. Redwood fences also define areas for specialized use, such as a pool and patio, a dog run or an area for a private garden.

Redwood fences are great for those who value privacy. For the security-minded, a solid surrounding structure serves as a psychological as well as a physical deterrent to intruders. By softening sounds and providing a barrier to wind and sun, a redwood fence can also increase the pleasure of outdoor living.

In addition, by reshaping and defining your exterior spaces, a fence will contribute to your home's overall appearance and value.

To protect your investment, choose enduring quality materials. Redwood is a classic for fences because of its rich beauty, durability and insect and decay resistance. Do-it-yourselfers enjoy building with redwood because it is lightweight and easy to work with and saw.

There are several redwood grades that might be used for fencing, but the most economical and popular include: construction common, construction heart, merchantable and merchantable heart. Quality redwood usually bears the stamp of the Redwood Inspection Service (RIS).

Remember, if you're working within a limited budget, you can still build a fence that does the job without sacrificing quality by choosing a style that uses either less lumber or an economical knot-textured garden grade of redwood. You can also keep costs down by making the best use of standard lumber lengths.

Good fences DO make good neighbors. It is important to consider how your neighbors will view the redwood fence addition. Some fences look wonderful on your side, yet present neighbors with a less appealing view. Other designs look equally attractive from both sides. A friendly talk with your neighbors can lead to a design that pleases all parties, and they may even be willing to share the cost of materials and labor.

It's also a good practice to check out the legal considerations associated with building a fence, because local codes and ordinances can vary considerably from one community to the next. Most communities have height restrictions on boundary or division fencing. There also may be certain rules and codes that actually require you to erect a fence - for instance, around a swimming pool or open well. If there are any questions about on whose land the fence is being built, arrange for a survey.

When working with redwood, it's important to use only aluminum alloy, stainless steel or double hot-dipped galvanized fasteners. Inferior hardware is likely to corrode and cause stains when it comes in contact with moisture. In general, select 16-penny common nails for the frame, 8- or 10-penny box nails for the fence board and 6- or 8-penny finish nails for the fine trim.

Experts recommend that all pieces of redwood be coated with a water repellent finish that contains a mildewcide and sun-blocking ultraviolet inhibitor. Various color and design effects can be achieved by using clear, bleaching, semi-transparent or solid body finishes. Fortunately, no other wood takes and holds finishes better than redwood, making it one of nature's most maintenance-free building materials.

A redwood fence is an enduring, valuable home improvement that adds to your privacy, security and outdoor living pleasure.

Get your project going with the new booklet, "Redwood Fences for All Reasons," a how-to guide to fence designing and building. Send $2.50 to California Redwood Association, Dept. F4, 405 Enfrente Drive, Suite 200, Novato, CA 94949.