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Privacy fences made of wood have been a longtime favorite amongst homeowners. There are multiple types of wood privacy fences – a vertical fence, horizontal fence, decorative fence, standard fence, and more. Each kind is a beautiful addition to any property and truly elevates the appearance of a yard.

For many years, vertical fences have been the norm. Horizontal fences are rising in popularity, though. Let’s explore the main differences between these two types of fences, and whether a horizontal privacy fence could be exactly what you are looking for in a wood privacy fence.

How does the appearance of a vertical fence differ from a horizontal fence?

The answer is pretty straightforward, but it can’t hurt to make sure we are all on the same page. The design of a vertical fence matches its name. It’s all about the direction of the fence boards, also referred to as pickets. A vertical fence has the individual boards placed side-by-side in a vertical fashion. A horizontal fence runs those boards the opposite direction.

Both types of fences need vertically-placed fence posts, so even a horizontal fence will have some vertical elements to it. The fence posts act as anchors that support the entire fence. Most homeowners choose to embed their fence posts in concrete to achieve a strong, sturdy fence that will hold up for years.

Fence posts can be placed at varying distances from each other with a vertical fence, but that is not the case with a horizontal fence. The horizontal fence pickets are only so long and must be connected to a post in order to be held in place. It is very important to strategically plan the location of your fence posts when constructing a horizontal fence to ensure they are close enough to one another to properly support the horizontal slats. Otherwise, you run the risk of sagging, broken boards down the road.

With a vertical fence, many homeowners choose to incorporate fence stringers into the design of their fence. These are boards placed horizontally across the top, middle, and bottom of the fence. Furthermore, a vertical fence can be constructed using fence panels – a group of boards pre-made into a panel that is connected into place at the fence posts. A horizontal fence needs to be built one board at a time, without the use of pre-made panels.

Will a vertical or horizontal fence last longer?

Wood fence boards are prone to damage without proper maintenance and upkeep. Natural lumber is bound to deteriorate over time. The sun, the shade, the weather, the wind – all of it takes a toll on wood. The best way to upkeep a vertical or horizontal fence is to regularly stain or paint your fence. While both options will put a protective coating on your fence, many homeowners prefer to stain a wood fence. Yes, stain can fade, but paint will chip and crack. Plus, there is no need to sand or prime your fence if you stain it.

Another way to prolong the life of your fence goes back to how it is constructed. A horizontal fence has the end of each fence board running side to side. The high-quality, durable lumber necessary to keep a horizontal fence from sagging also helps the fence last longer. The stringers at the top and bottom of the panels provide additional support as well.

A vertical fence has those vertical pickets running up and down, right? That means the top of the board on a vertical fence is fully exposed to all of those harsh weather elements, and the bottom of the board gets all the water and moisture runoff. The result? The top and bottom of vertical fence boards are going to get a decent amount of wear and tear. Including stringers in the construction of your vertical fence is one way to protect and preserve those two specific areas of your fence boards.

Is a horizontal fence or vertical fence better for uneven ground?

This answer is simple – a vertical fence can better accommodate uneven ground and a horizontal fence is best for flat ground. When constructing a vertical fence, it is easy to connect those fence boards one by one to the fence rails and place them exactly where you need to ensure they go down to the ground.

In other words, you can contour the vertical fence boards to match the slope of your yard. With a horizontal fence, you are pretty much forced to run those boards straight and flat across the ground. A straight board is just that – straight. It cannot contour to a sloped or curved surface. A horizontal fence looks and functions best when level.

Does a vertical fence or horizontal fence offer more privacy?

You can’t go wrong with either option in regards to privacy. When constructing your fence, you can place those boards mighty close together to achieve the ultimate privacy. While both horizontal and vertical fences typically have the slightest slit between boards to allow for the shrinking and expanding of the wood, both styles of fences will provide security and protection against onlookers. If your goal is to keep children or pets in your yard and trespassers or intruders out, you can count on a vertical fence or horizontal fence to accomplish just that.

Now when it comes to the look and appearance of your privacy fence, a vertical and horizontal fence definitely have some differences. A horizontal fence is considered a contemporary and modern take on a wood privacy fence. They are known as a stylistic, unique kind of fence, while a vertical fence is widely known as the more traditional, common look.

Are you ready to start building a privacy fence?

Constructing a vertical fence or horizontal fence is a sure way to elevate the look of your property, increase the curb appeal of your home, establish boundaries, and most certainly, gain more privacy.


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