Below is a list of fence styles and materials to help inspire and start you off on your upcoming fencing project! Even with this information, it’s best to consult with a local professional before beginning your project as they have years of experience and valuable knowledge; they can share with you to help prevent any possible headaches! Also, make sure to call 811 if you will be digging new post holes to make sure no underground utilities will be in the way
Traditional Fences: There are several ways to build a “traditional” looking fence including “good neighbor”, solid, and picture frame. Good neighbor fences are built to have boards on both sides of the fence, usually alternating with every other board so only part of the fence railing shows on either side. A solid style fence means all the boards are placed on one side so you can’t see the railing at all on that side but is completely exposed on the other side. A picture frame style fence is another form of a solid fence with the addition of a trim along the top and bottom of every fence panel as well as a cap on top of the panels and each post. It makes the fence look a little more “finished”.
Modern Fences: Lots of homeowners are moving toward modern or alternative fence styles these days because they’re tired of the traditional look. Homes don’t even have to be modern as long as the rest of the landscape compliments the unique look of the fence. This type of fencing can range in pattern, color, and material- even on one single fence! To make a fence look modern you can try installing the boards horizontally, and/or adding 1-2” gaps between the boards, using different sized boards on the same fence panel, or breaking up the fence with a different material between panels.
Short Fences: Short fences are great for sectioning off garden areas without blocking views. They can be installed around the front yard for curb appeal and to keep outsiders off your yard or to prevent your little child or chihuahua from running into the middle of the street. Styles range from traditional picket to modern, to craftsman, to split rail, to natural and so much more! Make sure to consider how far apart you want to space the boards if you are trying to keep things from coming in and out. Before you begin building your fence remember to look into your property’s setback requirements to see how close to your property line you can build it. This is usually to make sure cars will be seen as they turn around corners or drive into and out of driveways.
Screening: In some instances, having privacy is more the concern than just dividing property lines. In most cases, a 6-foot-tall fence that runs along the edge of a yard is enough to provide a decent amount of privacy from neighbors, but sometimes extra height is needed for certain situations. Each town is different, but often you will need a permit to build above 6 or 7 feet tall, so make sure to call your local planning and zoning office to see how high you can build your fence. To create taller fences, you can simply build with taller boards, or you can add a 1-2-foot decorative screen on top of an existing 6-foot fence. If you want to add an extra touch of interest the added height can be made of framed lattice, or its boards can run horizontally, or they can be built with 2×2’s spaced a few inches apart or placed in a grid for a more craftsman look. The options here are limitless!
Wood: Common wood materials used in the Pacific Northwest are Fir (somewhat weather-proof), Cedar (more weather-proof), and Juniper (very weather-proof). Ipe wood is also used on occasion for its durability and sleek modern look, however, it comes with a high price tag and there is some controversy regarding the harvesting of the rare trees in South America, which is probably why you don’t see it as often as other wood materials.
Composite: Composite fencing and decking are typically made up of recycled wood and plastic materials and some companies even claim it is an eco-friendly alternative to using all-natural wood. Recent advancements in composite technology have added to the material’s quality and longevity compared to older generations that might have rotted or cracked more easily. Composite lumber comes already pigmented in shades of brown or gray and can be painted with any regular wood paint or stain. Regular staining or treatment is not necessary since it is already a durable material, although it is recommended to clean it with soap and water every once in a while.
Vinyl: Vinyl fencing is a strong and long-lasting material that comes in a variety of styles and heights. It is put together with prefabricated interlocking pieces that quicken the installation process, but they can be cut into custom sizes if necessary. Vinyl fences- as well as composite fences- are useful in areas where high winds are an issue, and on top of that, they require very little maintenance.
Aluminum: When one thinks of aluminum fencing one might imagine the classic chain-link style seen in many neighborhoods since the early 20th century. Aluminum fences have since branched into other uses and styles and can even add to a home’s aesthetic. They can be installed with pre-assembled panels or they can be custom fabricated by professionals to be tall, short, ornate, or clean and simple. Aluminum fences are typically used for security more than privacy as the rails are only 1-2” thick with 3-4” wide gaps in between (although some allow you to install wood or vinyl boards in between the posts for added privacy). They are also great for driveway gates as well as fencing around pools because it is hard for children to climb over them.
Bamboo: For something extra unique consider bamboo for your fencing! It can really help to lock in the look of a tropical or Asian inspired landscape. You can usually find rolls of bamboo fencing online or at your local garden or bamboo store. Just be aware of the type you get: some are made of skinny reeds which are weak and not very long-lasting, while others are made up of sturdy 1-2” thick bamboo rods. Even still bamboo isn’t known to be durable and will gray and start to naturally decay after only a couple of years. Stain it to help lengthen its life as well as to retain its color (or to give it a new color!). Each bamboo piece is strung with wire to hold the rods together. This makes the panels easy to transport and to install onto a sturdy wood or metal frame.