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Wood Fencing is one of the oldest and most versatile product lines in the fence industry. Most wood fences are built on site from the ground up. This method of on-site wood fence installation allows for a greater ability to navigate terrain, work with challenging landscapes and provide absolutely beautiful wood fence installation results. While pre-built wood fence panels are available, they are generally constructed of lesser quality materials, are of poorer build, and allow for much less installation flexibility.

With many styles of wood fence from which to choose, from the standard dog-eared privacy fence, the classic spaced picket fence, to those that mimic the look of an ornamental aluminum fence, we here at Infinity Fence install them all. We have been servicing the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area with attention to detail and quality craftsmanship for more than two decades. Remember that no matter the application, the look and style of your wood fence is generally limited only by one's imagination.....well, for the most part anyway.

Infinity Fence Inc. makes sure it offers only quality wood fence materials, wood fence products and wood fence installation. We provide our customers with detailed estimates so you know what you are getting.

The Importance of a Detailed Fence Proposal

We know that there is much to be considered with a wood fence installation and we are here to help you with that process. We look forward to working with you on your wood fence installation project.  Please feel free to give us a call (919-846-2229), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fill out our contact form  to schedule an appointment for an estimate or to discuss your wood fence needs.

To see pictures of our vinyl fence installations please visit our Gallery.

Overview

Overview

wood fence page overview picMost wood fence in the North Carolina area is constructed using pressure treated pine. The boards used are generally rated a minimum of #2 or better. The rating refers to the appearance of the board. The #2 refers to the knot configuration and "better" to wane configuration (bark or rounding of wood). All boards are subject to knots but if desired #1 and clear boards are available.

If you are looking to reduce your wane to a minimum, pickets are avaialable in select and appearance grade boards.  These boards have virtually no wane. These boards are "pre-picked" (hence the term select) and they are the boards Infinity Fence features on all our wood fence installations.

While there are many treatment processes for wood, the following three are the most common:

  • ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary)
  • MCQ (Micronized Copper Quaternary)
  • MCA (Micronized Copper Azole)

For more information on these and other treatment processes we highly suggest you spend some time on the Wikipedia wood preservation page.

As with any fence installation, location and application usage should always be considered when designing and installing your wood fence. No matter it's type or style, it is also beneficial that you have a proposal presented to you that provides the complete scope and material specifications of the project. Like other product lines, with a wood fence there a many different materials available, not all of the same quality. If you are unsure about the specifications of your wood fence, ask your contractor for those details as they do make a difference.

History

History

When contemplating the history of the wooden fence one would likely make the assumption that wood is the oldest of the modern fence materials. Well, being that we are a fence installation company, and not historians, we probably would agree. Just the same we did a little poking around only to find claims such as "wood is the worlds oldest fencing material" and "wood fencing has been around for thousands of years". Well that was too easy and a little vague, so we decided to do some more looking.boma fence picture

In all likelihood, the oldest of the wood fences, while not resembling a fence as we think of today, is the African Boma (pictured right). The Boma is a thick fence of thorny Acacia branches used to protect compounds or livestock from predators. There is little to be found on how old this type of fence truly is, but one can fairly safe to assume it has been in use for thousands of years.....and is still used today.

During the time of the Roman Empire, when a fort or structure needing to be protected, wooden stockades were erected to do so. These wooden stockades were basically small trees, or wood logs, pointed and then planted into the ground side by side (pictured below). These stockades, sometimes referred to as wooden palisades, were used through at least the 17th century. The medieval paling, a flat strip or round stake of wood brought to North America by European settlers is what eventually evolved into the picket on fences that we are all much more familiar with.

The treating of wood can be traced bpalasade fenceack to the earliest of times. For centuries, the treatment of wood was a process of coating the wood with tar. The coming of the industrial revolution saw technological advances in wood preservation solutions and processes leading to the treating of wood in the 1800's using Creosote, a tar based preservative derived from a wood distillate.

By the 1930's Copper Chromated Arsenate (CCA), was developed and replaced Creosote as the most common wood treatment process, and was widely used through 2003. In 2004 the EPA and the wood treating industry voluntary restricted the usage of CCA in most applications due to a report released by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission citing safety concerns. Today, while Creosote and CCA are still available mainly for commercial and agricultural applications, there are a three other processes which took their place in mainstream America's wood fence industry:

  • ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary)
  • MCQ (Micronized Copper Quaternary)
  • MCA (Micronized Copper Azole)

Today's wood fences can be built out of a variety of wood types with pressure treated pine & cedar being the commonly used choices nationwide. Here in the mid Atlantic states, you will find that pressure treated pine is the primary material used to construct wood fences. Pressure treated pine has a longer life span and is more economical than either northern white or western red cedar.

Styles

Styles

When we talk about a wood fence style in reference to the name of the fence, we are looking at the picket configuration as well as the style and setting of the pickets. For instance.....

The term Privacy Fence refers to the configuration of the fence pickets being installed next to each other, thus you know that whatever picket style you choose, you will have a privacy fence and not a spaced picket fence.

The term Dog-eared Picket lets you know that the style of picket you are getting is just that , a Dog-ear picket and not a French Gothic picket.

The "setting" of the pickets refers to whether the pickets or top of the section runs straight, is scalloped, escalloped or capped, among others. The standard setting (default) for the pickets is straight, as in the pickets will be installed from post to post with all picket tops being equal in height from the top backrail. Therefore with this being the default installation method, no reference needs to be made to picket setting and your fence name is Dog-eared Privacy Fence.

While not always that simple (think mastering English), as some fence companies "brand" their styles, (naming them after presidents?) as well as there being some complex configurations, this is the basis for the generic names of fence style names to which we most commonly refer.

Wood Fence Categories (picket configuration):

Here, we look at the picket configuration. There are 6-1/2 wood fence configurations that make up the majority of wood fence installed today. They are: Privacy, Spaced Picket, Shadowbox, Board on Board, Basket Weave and a Panel Fence. The installation of a Topper can also be added to any of the base style configurations (hence the 1/2).

Privacy Fence: Pickets are installed side by side on one side of the horizontal stringers. With a privacy fence there will be some gapping between the pickets due to the milling of the picket and shrinkage which is common to pressure treated wood products.

privacy fence

Spaced Picket Fence: Pickets are installed with a space between them, on one side of the horizontal stringers. While spacing can vary and be anything one desires, generally you will find the spacing between pickets to be 1-1/2" to 2" in width.

spaced picket fence

Shadowbox Fence: Pickets are installed on both sides of the horizontal stringers. The pickets are installed in the same manner as a spaced picket fence on one side of the stringer, leaving spaces between the pickets that should be about 1-2" less than the width of the picket being used. The same installation is done on the other side of the stringer, only the pickets are installed covering the spaces left by the first side installation. The pickets thus provide an overlap which gives you a 90 degree viewing privacy which opens up, where you can see through the fence, as you move off the 90 degree view. The smaller the gap between pickets, the more view that is covered when moving off on an angle. The Shadowbox style of fence provides two finished sides and can sometimes be referred to as "the good neighbor fence".

shadowbox fence

 

Board on Board Fence: The installation of this fence is very similar to the Shadowbox Fence. The first layer of pickets are installed in the same manner, on one side of the stringer, leaving spaces between the pickets that should be about 1-2" less than the width of the picket being used. Once this layer is complete, pickets are then placed on top of the first layer covering the gaps with the pickets overlapping about 1" on each side. When complete, there are no gaps, thus achieving privacy without any gaps.

 board on board fence

 

Basketweave Fence: Pickets, while commonly installed horizontally can be installed vertically as well. The pickets are stacked upon each other with a 2" x 2" channel holding them together at each post. In the middle of a bay a board is woven between the horizontal boards, thus forming a weave. The horizontals are then capped. The panel can have one, two or three weaves and be made of a variety of materials, though more weaves require thinner horizontal boards to allow for proper flexibility. Once a very common style of fence, it is not seen as much anymore, despite the fact it provides a beautiful look for both homeowner and neighbor alike.

basketweave fence

 

Panel: This is a fence that is constructed as you would framing a picture, a frame (posts and/or 2" x 4"'s) with an inner channel (the matting) made of 2" x 2" or 1" x 3/4" boards, which holds the panel material between it.  Panel fencing is generally constructed without any horizontal mid-rails for a finished look on both sides. Most often seen with lattice fill, any solid board or picket could be used to make a panel fence.

panel fence

Topper: A section of fence that is placed upon one of the above styles. The typical construction of a topper sections is the same as that of a panel fence. Toppers are usually between 1' and 2' in height and will generally be a filled with lattice or spindles, though many variations of design are possible. including picket, solid panel, or wrought iron.

topper fence

Other Wood Fence Categories (Split Rail & Pasture):

Split Rail Fence: Falling into the "one of the oldest North American fence types" category, this was once made from placing small trees, or the splitting of larger logs, and placing them between two posts that had horizontal supports between them upon which the rail was placed and secured. These days though, split rail fence is constructed of horizontal rails, generally diamond shaped or rounded. The rails are inserted into posts that have holes bored through them to accept the rails, with the rails overlapping through the post.

Split rail fence generally comes in two-rail (3' high) or three-rail (4' high) versions. A welded wire or chain link mesh can be added to these to make pet and child secure while still keeping a rustic look.

split rail

Pasture Fence: A horizontal rail fence used primarily for horse or livestock pastures or when looking to achieve a more rustic look without the use of Split Rail. While the height of a pasture fence is generally 4', it is not uncommon to see the pasture fence used in residential applications at 5 & 6' tall as well. Rails are normally 5/4" rough faced board for horse or livestock installations with standard 1" x 6" being common to residential uses. This fence can consist of as many horizontal rails as one wishes as well as graduated spacing between. A welded wire or chain link mesh can be added to these to make pet and child secure.

pasture fence

 

Wood Fence Picket Styles & Settings:

picket top cutsWood fence styles can have names that are as creative as the fence itself can be. For the most part though, wood fence picket cuts are commonly found as such:

  • Flat Topped (just a flat topped picket)
  • Dog-eared (a picket with the corners cut off)
  • Sawtooth (a picket cut straight to a point on a 45-55 degree angle, think white picket fence)
  • Gothic (rounds to a point)
  • French Gothic (a Gothic picket with half holes cut off on each side, think of a spade suit in cards)

 

Picket Settings, or the tops of the fence, are generally one of the following five:

  • Flat or Staight Top (the pickets of the fence panel are all installed at the same height)
  • Scalloped (the pickets that are either cut or placed in an upward arch)
  • Escalloped (the pickets that are either cut or placed in a downward arch)
  • Capped (a panel where the flat topped pickets are capped by a horizontal board)
  • Topper (a panel where an accent topper is placed on the top of a standard section design)

section top styles

Posts

The dimensional lumber that is used for posts comes in a variety of sizes. Post size selection is dependent on a number of factors; height of fence, type and size of gate or the aesthetics that one is looking to achieve. All posts should be set in concrete footings.Concrete should always be mixed with water prior to being placed in the hole, not after. Beware of fence installers bearing no wheel barrels. 

A Properly Set Fence Post

General Reference to Post Size Usage
post size usage

Post Tops can be either made as part of the post (cut into) or added to the post. The common post cuts are Dog-eared, Sawtooth, Gothic or French Gothic. Ribbons cut around the Dog-eared and Sawtooth post tops are also incorporated adding a more finished and decorative look. Common tops that are added to posts are Stacked Tier and Ball Tops on Plates.

post top cuts

Also available are custom made caps that slip over the posts coming in a seemingly endless variety of designs. Here are a few of the more common:

high pyramid custom slip over cap the classic custom slip over cap copper high top custom slip over cap victoria high point solar I custom slip over cap solar II custom slip over cap

Stingers

Stingers

The horizontal stringers (backrails) are attached to the posts, and the pickets in turn attached to them. Stingers size can vary but in most instances 2" x 4" are used. The stringers are attached either to the the font face, rear face or to the side or the posts, depending on the construction design, using nails or brackets.

horizontal backrail mount

Stingers should always installed with the vertical face perpendicular to the post face, which is to say, if using a 2" x 4" for example, the 4" portion of the board is vertical. This vertical portion of the board is the load bearing dimension (what holds the weight of the pickets), so you would not want to flip the 2" x 4" and have the 2" of board carry the load.

The amount of stringers used for any particular wood fence installation varies per the height of the fence. The following is a good guide.

stinger amount per height

 

Pickets

Pickets

picket top cutsWhile a picket can be constructed from just about any type of stock, they are most commonly cut from 1" boards with 1" x 4" and 1" x 6" being the more common sizes for fence pickets. 1" pickets, as they are referred to, are actually 3/4" in thickness.

There are also 5/8" thick, "budget pickets", sold via the big box stores. While not posessing nearly the quality or longevity of a standard 1" picket they do have their installation applications. As always it is best you make sure you know what you are getting. Detailed specifications on your proposal are a good way of ensuring you get what you think you are. Beware of boards that are sold as a 1" x 6" and actually measure 5/8".  1" x 6" boards should never measure 5/8" thick.

Pickets come in a few different types finishes as well.

  • S4S (smooth finish on all four sides)
  • S3S (smooth on three sides, rough on one)
  • Rough Face (a rough textured surface on all sides common to 5/8" thick budget type pickets)

We here at Infinity Fence believe in using the best materials available and quote all standard wood fence installations using:

  • 1" x 6" x S4S #2 Appearance Grade 
  • 1" x 4" x S4S #2 Select Grade Pickets.

2" x 2" stock is also is used for pickets when constructing fences that mimic an ornamental iron fence or when constructing a wood fence with a handrail look. Generally a 2" x 2" picket top is either left flat, cut to a point, or beveled.

Gates

Wood Gates

The frame of the gate is generally constructed using the same material specified for the backrails (2" x 4"s in most cases). There should be two uprights and an equal amount of horizontal stringers as per the fence installation. The size of the frame, top to bottom, should match the section backrail configuration as well. An angle brace member may also be added which will run from the bottom hinge corner of the frame to the opposite upper corner of the frame depending on the gate frames structural design.

The frames can be manufactured in a number of ways with the three most common pictured below. The more complete the frame (uprights, horizontals and brace) the more stable the gate frame will be and the better it will perform over time. The lapping (interlocking) of the uprights and horizontals is our preferred method of gate construction. The 2" x 4" uprights lap with the horizontals, are glued, then screwed together. This process provides superior strength and stability as compared to standard built frames.

wood gate frames        gate lap Joint close up

For larger and heavier gates, than wood frames can properly support, one can have a steel frame constructed. Once manufactured, the 2" x 4" backrails are attached and the pickets installed. Generally these frames are made from either chain link fence pipe stock, or from standard square steel stock. Posts for these gate builds may remain wood, depending on the gate load, or can match the material used for the frame. The steel frame build is more common for commercial builds and very large gates, though we highly recommend them for residential double swing gates that will undergo heavy usage.

Hardware

Wood Gate Hardware

The hardware for the wood gates (hinges, latches & handles) are vast and range from the standard fare, to the wonderfully ornate. For wood fence gates, the standard hinge set of choice for most fence installation companies is the T-Hinge or the Strap Hinge. These hinges have a tight hinge pin set reducing gate shift, come in black and are available from a few different manufacturers. For gates that need to self close, one can add a spring or install D&D Tru-close self closing hinges.

The standard latch, is the Maxima type Latch in either the spring loaded or gravity feed style, again coming in black and offered by a few different manufacturers. A padlock can be applied to both sides of this latch under most circumstances.

For those looking for a latch that locks, self contained, on both sides of the fence, there is the D&D Technologies Lokk Latch Pro. This is a keyed latch, which can be set to match the keys of your house if so desired. Standard release on one side and press release on the other, makes this a wonderful upgrade to the standard latch.

Pictured are the more commonly installed latches and hinges used for wood gate applications. We deal with many manufactures of gate hardware and more ornate types of hinges, latches and accessories are available for your gate upon request to accommodate any aesthetic desire or functional need.

hinges