Fencing is erected to create privacy or to mark a boundary. The main types of timber fencing are:
These large manufactured panels are fixed between square wooden posts. The panels are 1.8m (6ft) wide and vary in height starting at 600mm (2ft) and rising by 300mm (1ft) at a time up to 1.8m (6ft). Designs also vary but the most common consists of overlapping, horizontal, thin strips of wood fixed in a rectangular timber frame.
A close-board fence is a sturdy construction made up of overlapping featherboard strips fixed vertically to horizontal rails running between the fence posts. The featherboards will be either 100mm (4in) or 150mm (6in) wide and will taper across the width. Quality featherboards are made from cedar but they are expensive. Therefore it is more likely your featherboards will be made from a cheaper softwood.
Palisade fencing (also known as a picket fence)
A simple fence design, the palisade fence is similar in design to the close-board fence but it has spaces between the vertical uprights. The tops of the uprights can be square-cut, pointed or even rounded.
This type of fencing is especially suitable for exposed windy locations. Once again the vertical boards are fixed to horizontal rails running between the fence posts, but the difference is the boards are fixed alternately to opposite sides of the horizontal rails. The vertical boards can be overlapped or gaps can be left between them. Interlap fencing is decorative and very sturdy, allowing strong winds to pass through the fence and diminishing the amount of force hitting the fence.
Constructed of roughly cut timber posts horizontally fitted between uprights, this simple design is very rustic in appearance. Additional wire mesh can be fixed to the fence using staples.
Usually two horizontal rails supported by short fence posts create a simple, low-level fence. This type of fence is usually painted but a wood stain finish can be equally as attractive.
A trellis of softwood laths is mainly used to offer supports for trailing or climbing garden plants. Trellis is available either in lengths that concertina or fixed onto a rigid timber frame. Trellis panels can be used in conjunction with other fencing panels.
Sometimes, the style of fence you are erecting will determine the type of fence post you will need. For most domestic locations timber posts will be more than adequate but a situation may arise when heavy-duty fence posts will be required, such as concrete or metal. Only ever use timber posts that have been treated with a preservative and any timber post coming into contact with the ground must be tannalised.
Square wooden post
This is the most common type of fence post used for erecting timber fencing and will have a square of rectangular cross-section.
Round wooden post
This type of post offers a more rustic, traditional look. To maintain the rustic appearance half-round rails can be used as the horizontal rails
These pre-cast posts are designed for a variety of different fence types. They can be used for ordinary garden fence panels, or for more heavy-duty chain link fences. The variety used with fence panels will have grooves running down the edge, while concrete fence posts pre-fabricated to support chain link fencing will have holes drilled through them to take the fixings.
These are the least attractive type of fence posts used with chain link fencing. Associated more with industrial use, people seeking a domestic fencing solution should consider some of the attractive timber alternatives described above.
Other fencing materials
Along with fencing and fence posts there is a range of additional materials that you may need when building a fence.
The metal post spike incorporates a square socket on top of a long spike. The post spike is driven into the ground after which the bottom of a square timber post can be slotted into the socket, thus making the digging of postholes unnecessary.
Although this is a tool rather than a material, it is only used with metal post spikes and therefore included in this section. The driving tool is shaped to fit into the square socket of a post spike to provide a solid surface on which to bring down the sledgehammer. Using a driving tool also prevents damage to the edges of the square socket. When the post spike is securely in the ground the driving tool can be pulled free from the socket.
Bolt-down post bracket
Square metal sockets that can be bolted to a concrete surface. The bottom of the post fits into the socket, which then can be tightened around the timber using the bolts on the corner of the socket.
Metal post clips can be fixed to the inside edge of timber posts allowing for fence panels to be slotted in position and fixed in place.
Timber post caps serve two purposes. They afford a neat finish to the top of the posts and protect the end grain from rainwater penetration.
All panel fences will have a capping strip that runs along the top of the fence panel. Today fence panels usually come with the capping strips already fitted.
This is the horizontal timber rail that runs between two fence posts and onto which vertical boards are fixed, as in a close-board fence. The cross-section of an Arris rail is usually triangular.
Arris rail bracket
This is a metal bracket for fixing an Arris rail to a timber fence post. Using an Arris rail bracket removes the need to cut a mortise joint.