What Is a Horizontal Wood Fence?
A horizontal wood fence is a type of fencing that uses horizontal slats or boards made of wood, as opposed to the more traditional vertical orientation. The horizontal boards are attached to posts that are installed vertically in the ground. This style of fence can provide a modern and clean look, and can be made from a variety of wood species such as cedar, redwood, or pressure treated pine. They can be used to define property lines, provide privacy, or enhance the aesthetic of a outdoor living space.
Why Would You Want a Horizontal Wood Fence?
Here are a few reasons why homeowners may decide to install a horizontal wood fence on their property.
1. Aesthetic Appeal
Since this is a relatively new architectural trend, few people have horizontal fences installed on their properties. This makes them more unique and attracts more attention. Plus, they look modern, sleek, and reminiscent of shiplap or paneling. This style of fence can turn your fencing project from a boring boundary into a visual asset and a conversation piece.
2. Illusion Of Space
Since the boards in a horizontal fence stretch out lengthwise, they create the illusion that they cover more space than they actually do. It can make a small yard look slightly larger.
3. Perception of Luxury
For people who like to spend money and display their luxury lifestyle, a horizontal fence may be their top choice. Horizontal fences are expensive, so by installing one in your yard, you’re telling everyone that you have an elevated sense of taste and style – as well as plenty of money to invest in it.
Why Is a Horizontal Wood Fence a Bad Idea?
A horizontal wood fence may look good when it’s first installed. But if you look at the bigger picture, you’ll see several reasons why this type of fencing is not the best choice for your residential property in Indiana or the Tri-State area. Let’s go over them together.
1. They Cost a Lot of Money to Install And Maintain
Horizontal wood fences are much more expensive than vertical fencing. That’s for two reasons.
The first reason is increased material cost. Horizontal wood fences require higher quality lumber to prevent them from sagging. Despite that, sagging is likely to occur anyway as the wooden boards absorb moisture from the air and lose their integrity. Also, horizontal fence post spacing must be six feet apart. That means that this type of fencing requires one-third more posts than a regular vertical fence. More posts equal more lumber, which in turn equals a higher price for materials and installation.
The second reason is increased labor cost. Horizontal wood fences are more difficult to install than traditional vertical wood fences, as they require precise measurements and level lines to ensure the horizontal boards are level.
2. They Are Prone to Warping
Horizontal fence warping is a common occurrence in Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, where we have hard freezes every winter and early spring. Condensation settles on the tops of the boards instead of spreading down their lengths, as it does on vertical fences. This phenomenon causes the boards to warp, eventually resulting in fence panels that are shaped like flags waving in the wind. At that point, there’s nothing you can do except replace your fence.
3. They Don’t Last Very Long
Because of the warping issue and our freeze-thaw climate, horizontal fencing doesn’t generally last long. In fact, this type of fence wears down 4 times as fast as a vertical fence made with the same materials. This means that you’ll have to replace it every 3-5 years instead of every 15-20 years.
All those replacements will quickly add up to a small fortune. Such an extravagant expense is completely avoidable if you simply install a vertical fence instead.
4. They Offer Less Privacy Than a Vertical Fence
Notice that the reasons for getting a horizontal wood fence are mostly related to appearances. For other concerns, like security and privacy, they don’t provide any extra benefits than traditional, vertical fencing.
In fact, horizontal fences actually reduce your privacy, thanks to the space that is left between each board during installation. This space can be 1/8th of an inch thick at the tightest, but that’s still wide enough for someone to peek through it and spy on your yard.
Do Horizontal or Vertical Fences Last Longer?
Vertical wood fences are a much smarter investment than horizontal fences in terms of longevity. A well-maintained fence will last for 15-20 years, whereas a horizontal fence will warp and deteriorate in about 3-5 years.
Are Horizontal Wood Fences More Expensive?
To achieve the look of a horizontal fence and increase its stability, horizontal fence materials must consist of higher quality lumber than a vertical fence requires. That factor combined with the increased number of fence posts will drive the price up considerably.
Why A Vertical Fence Is a Better Alternative to Horizontal Fencing
Now that you know why horizontal fences aren’t a smart investment, here are four reasons why a vertical fence is a better alternative.
1. They’re Less Expensive
Vertical fence boards don’t have to be made of a high-grade lumber, like horizontal fence boards do. They also don’t require as many fence posts. These factors will reduce the overall price of installation and maintenance.
2. They Will Stand Up to Freeze-Thaw Conditions
Vertical fence boards spread condensation out over their lengths rather than collecting all that moisture in one spot. This prevents warping, even in the freeze-thaw conditions native to the Indiana and Tri-State area.
3. They Can Last for Decades
With proper care and maintenance, vertical wood fences will easily last up to 15-20 years. This is in sharp contrast to horizontal fences, which may only last 3-5 years - or less - if they become warped.
4. They Still Offer Great Curb-Appeal
Vertical fencing may not be as unique as a horizontal fence, but you can certainly make your property look just as aesthetically pleasing with this style of fence. The key is to use good wood, stain it once a year, and repaint it as the initial coat of paint fades in the sun.
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