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Did you know there are multiple types of rail fences? Each kind of rail fence has varying physical attributes and serves a different purpose. It is important to determine the features and functionality you want in a fence before beginning that big project.

First, let’s outline the various types of rail fences:

  • Split Rail
  • Round Rail
  • Vinyl Rail
  • Ranch Rail
  • Wood/Metal Rail

These rail fences consist of vertical posts with two to four rows of horizontal rails connected to those posts. Rail fences and privacy fences serve two very different functions. Privacy fences are meant to do just that – keep a certain area private and out of view from others. Rail Fences purposely provide visibility while also serving as a border or boundary line.

What to Consider

So why choose a rail fence over a privacy fence? There are so many reasons. Rail fences are typically used to line a walkway, go around a commercial property, separate neighborhoods, or hold in livestock or farm animals. Once you know where and why you need a rail fence, you can ask yourself:

  • What will be the purpose of the rail fence?
  • What is my budget?
  • What kind and size of animals do I need to contain?
  • What aesthetic am I hoping to accomplish?
  • How much security do I want?
  • What amount of maintenance or upkeep do I prefer?

Answering these questions can help you select a type of fence that best fits your needs. Understanding how the different kinds of rail fences are designed and knowing how they vary in structure is particularly valuable.

Round Versus Split

You can count on a sturdy fence and timeless look with both a round rail or split rail fence. Both options come in a two or three rail version and can be catered to your exact needs and wants.

Appearance is one main difference between these two types of rail fences. Round rail fences match their name. They use milled, rounded posts and rails, which provide a very circular and uniform look. Split rail fences are known to be more rugged and rustic. Their name also coincides with their look because the rails are quite literally split logs. This means split rail fences have rails that are irregular in shape.

Rail Fences and Animals

A round rail fence is a heavy-duty choice that easily restricts cattle or horses. Yes, split rails can do the job as well but are a lighter construction option. If you board large animals, you would want to ensure the posts are built and installed properly to make sure they will withstand the wear and tear that comes with them. The strength of the fence comes down to a correct installation.

If you need to contain smaller livestock, a rail fence work can work well with a little ingenuity. By simply adding a wire mesh or chain link fence to one side of the rail fence, you can hold in animals that could otherwise sneak out through the spaces between rails.

When incorporating wire fencing, a split rail fence is easier to work with compared to round rails. Round rails have no flat side, which makes it difficult to secure any wiring. Comparatively, the cut side of a split rail allows for easier installation. Wire mesh or chain link fencing is a reliable protective barrier not just for animals you want to keep in, but animals you want to keep out as well. Plus, it’s a perfect way to keep children safe and inside the yard.

What About Ranch Rails or Vinyl Rails?

Ranch rails use large, long rectangular planks as rails. Property owners that have a lot of ground to cover often select a ranch rail fence because they need a large amount of fencing. Ranch rail fencing is affordable and fits a wide range of needs, plus it has a classic and clean look. In fact, you can choose to paint or stain a ranch rail fence if you prefer.

As for a vinyl rail fence, it is one fencing option not made of wood. It is still considered a rail fence because of its design, but the fence is entirely made of vinyl. Vinyl has a unique look and feel. While some homeowners enjoy its clean lines, others feel it looks fake and lacks the natural warmth of wood.

Wood and Metal Combo

The combination of wood and metal makes this fence an incredibly long-lasting and secure fence. This modern take on rail fencing consists of metal posts and wood rails. The metal posts are insect resistant and do not rot over time like a wood post. It’s a fence that will serve you well for years.

A Rail Fence Made For You

What is the right rail fence for you? What makes sense and works for your specific circumstances? In the end, you can’t go wrong with any type of rail fencing. All of the above options provide a strong and sturdy fence that will look beautiful for years to come. You are bound to be happy with any choice. Take a few minutes to consider what option is best for your situation, and take the first step toward making that fence a reality.