Horizontal fence design with 8' apart posts -which design is better?

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Forum topic by MiniMe posted 05-25-2018 11:33 AM 2114 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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406 posts in 860 days

05-25-2018 11:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: fence design horizonta question

Hi guys

Below is the picture showing the two options I am thinking of. This is done using PostMaster galvanized steel posts set in 3’ deep concrete formed in 10” sonotubes. Height is 6’. I am going against the general opinion (set the posts 5’-6’ apart) to avoid the squared feeling that that design gives to the fence and to avoid digging new holes, so my posts are 8’ apart, replacing the old ones. Besides that I have two points on my fence line where the posts MUST be there because other shorter segments branch off those points.
I will name the options #1 and #2 counted from top to the bottom of the picture

My questions address two issues:
1)reinforcing and preventing warping
the redded pieces are for reinforcing and for preventing warping.
For option # I am seeing that done with horizontal 2×4 which can be screwed to the post (see the PDF linked above) and then the vertical 2×4 will be screwed to the horizontal pieces in the middle. The two horizontal 2×4 can be masked if needed

For option #2 I am thinking about just a simple 2×4 that migh or might not rest on the ground but no anchoring;

Which reinforcing is better? Can then be improved ? What problems do you see with each ?
2)code compliance: this is regarding the design with alternating boards (option #1). I live in Toronto and I am reading the code but I can’t find anything that would stop me from using the design with boards alternating on each side of the fence on each fence panel. I guess the only thing against the code will be the fact that this could be climbable. There is no pools on the two adjacent properties

6 replies so far

View Kelly's profile


3050 posts in 3752 days

#1 posted 05-25-2018 09:27 PM

With the reinforcements tied to the fence [at four feet], drooping should be greatly reduced, since you are, essentially, making the twelve boards into on big board. Of course, overkill never hurt in this kind of situation and minimal supports under the middles would go a long ways to guaranteeing you never had drooping, and the fence could be climbed without causing damage.

I hate having even six feet of fence unsupported, since it droops over time, unless you do something like this.

Just for reference, I used to repair fences. Early on, I hated concrete, because I assumed you had to do the repairs the way most did – dig up the old concrete. I finally figured out a slow speed drill, a spade bit, and a tulip planting auger pulverized and stirred up the rotted wood well enough I was able to vacuum it out, leaving a nice, square hole for the new 4x to drop into.

Merely running a SawsAll between the 2x’s and the board cut all the nails and allowed me to re-use them, since they didn’t break, like they do when you pound them off.

View clin's profile


1114 posts in 1804 days

#2 posted 05-25-2018 09:43 PM

The alternating approach is stiffer. The reason is the fence will sort of behave as if it were the thickness of two boards and a 2×4, so say about 3” thick. With all the boards on one side, it will pretty much just behave as a single board width, 3/4”. This is related to how torsion boxes behave.

Look at it this way, if the boards were sheets of plywood, the alternating is like having a sheet on each side (admittedly with 50% removed), while the single side would be like a single sheet of plywood. The 2×4 doesn’t relay do much to prevent this from flexing. It does of course actually keep the individual boards positioned.

Another thing I like about the alternating boards is you can overlap the boards. For example, 6” boards on 5” centers. That way you can’t look straight through any gaps in the fence. Since you must leave gaps between boards, due to expansion, all on one side provides less privacy. Of course alternating with overlap will use a few more boards.

-- Clin

View CaptainSkully's profile


1613 posts in 4366 days

#3 posted 05-25-2018 09:55 PM

I prefer the top, alternating style for a couple of reasons. It’s more structural, but it also means there’s no “good” or “bad” side to the fence. This might help with the neighbors. I might think about putting a top plank on both sides and maybe a cap rail.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View MiniMe's profile


406 posts in 860 days

#4 posted 05-26-2018 11:01 AM

Hi guys

thanks for the feedback
I do have a cap board for each segment but it is hidden in the rendering so you can see the essentials
@clin : very good reasoning, I did not consider that structural approach,
@Captainskully: I did consider that the fence should be equally nice from both sides

so you guys think the the traversal 2×4 are useless in the first design ?

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1707 days

#5 posted 05-26-2018 01:44 PM

The house I grew up in had a weaved fence like this. Out lasted us, and is still there.

View LesB's profile


2576 posts in 4251 days

#6 posted 05-26-2018 06:23 PM

Either design should function well. For appearance I like the alternating solid side application better than the simulated weave. For one thing the metal post is less visible and also it is less climbable. If the fence boards are less than 5/8” (15mm) thick I think you need a top plate to support climbers.
The center support could be rest on tip of cement piers to avoid sagging but also direct contact with the soil and if you do that be sure to place a piece of water proof material like asphalt roofing between the cement and the wood to prevent moisture wicking into the wood.

One other thing is see that might help construction of the solid design is to build the sections between posts as panels, doing it on a flat work surface (the ground) with vertical boards on each end that the cross pieces are nailed to and then fasten the vertical boards directly to the metal posts. As the drawing appears you are fastening each horizontal board to the metal post which is more work.

That fence should last 50 years or more.

-- Les B, Oregon

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