Designing & building a wood privacy fence

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Forum topic by b3528294 posted 08-13-2015 10:52 PM 943 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 701 days

08-13-2015 10:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m looking to build a 5 ft tall 20 foot long decorative privacy fence. Horizontal slats. I’ll probably add a planter in front like in the pic below. This will be built in the Los Angeles area so not subject to much rain or humidity if that matters.

1. I’m going to use pressure treated 4×4x8 posts. 5ft exposed with 3’ anchored in the ground should suffice? Do I need to add concrete around the posts? Will that prevent rot or accelerate it?

2. How many posts do I need? Could I just use 3 posts? one the 0' mark, 1 in the middle the 10’ mark and 1@ the 20’ mark? I’m going to have that seam in the middle at the 10’ mark like in the pic above. Do I use 4 posts at 5’ interval spacing instead? Or perhaps 3 posts but one @ 3, 10, and 17 ft marks?

3. Should I use 4” or 6” wide boards? What type of spacing should I have between each slat? 3/4” for a 4” board or 1” for 6? Is there a good ratio between gap and board width?

4. What thickness boards should I use? I was thinking of 2×4 or 2×6 since they are cheap and easily available (2×4x10 is $3.50). They would also resisting warping due to their thickness? But they might be too heavy?
I’m not sure what to get for a 1” board though. 1 in. x 4 in. x 10 ft. Standard DF/HF Board? Kiln-Dried Spruce Softwood Board (Common: 4-in x 10-ft; Actual: 0.75-in x 3.5-in x 10-ft) $4.72? Do I need a hardwood board like this Kiln-Dried Poplar Board (Common: 1-in x 4-in x 10-ft; Actual: 0.75-in x 3.5-in x 10-ft) $19.18. Quite a price increase for hardwood.

I’m going to stain the wood to the color in the pic to help protect the wood.

Any advice or tips that you can offer are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

8 replies so far

View MT_Stringer's profile


2820 posts in 2651 days

#1 posted 08-13-2015 11:55 PM

Five feet tall won’t provide much privacy. Right?

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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1820 posts in 1409 days

#2 posted 08-14-2015 01:23 AM

I would use a minimum of 4 posts and would make fence 6 ft tall BUT…...

You probably need to check the building codes for requirements and what is allowed and if you need a permit. In my area, you need a permit for any fence and there are height limitations.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 643 days

#3 posted 08-14-2015 02:40 AM

You could also place 2’ high lattice with 1.5” squares on top of the 4’ high fence

-- I meant to do that!

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1446 days

#4 posted 08-14-2015 06:43 AM

When you buy your treated posts, check the label on the end to see whether they are for ground contact. Locally, I have found those at Lowes, whereas the ones at HD are not for ground contact.

I never use concrete around my posts (I’m in the minority here, I’m sure). Concrete will help to preserve the wood, especially if you taper it up from the ground so you have a slope to let water run off. If you do use concrete, I’d put it only in the top 12” or so. Pack gravel around the lower part, tamping it firmly.

Some of your questions are aesthetic, so you’ll have to decide. But 2X4s used horizontally are as likely to warp as one-bys, maybe more so. Depends on species and quality. Redwood would probably be best, if you can still get good stuff.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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250 posts in 2092 days

#5 posted 08-14-2015 12:53 PM

I just built a very similar fence in my yard. I used 6×6 posts spaced every 8’ all posts had concrete and were 3’ in the ground. A few things different about my situation is we have frost in Canada so they have to be deep, and I back onto commercial property so my fence will get run into from time to time (wider posts).

As to the design, I used 1×6 horizontal boards spaced about 3/4” apart with a 2×4 frame in the back to give it rigidity and prevent sagging. I put a 2×6 flat across the top to give it a finished look. I used pressure treated wood, around here you can only get 1×6”, nothing narrower in that thickness.

I’m very happy with the fence, nice clean modern look.

-- @craftcollectif ,,

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 757 days

#6 posted 08-14-2015 02:27 PM

Olivia seems like a good read. Do you recommend it? ;)

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

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986 posts in 2063 days

#7 posted 08-14-2015 03:20 PM

Prior to starting construction of the fence, you should check to see if there are any restrictions in your community as to height no matter which construction design and technique you decide to use.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View b3528294's profile


7 posts in 701 days

#8 posted 08-14-2015 06:16 PM

Building code says any fence over 6’ tall requires a permit. They have two ways to measure the height. One being from the street to the top height of the fence. Therefore to meet that requirement a 5’ tall fence will suffice.

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