I recently built a 6' 3-rail privacy fence with 1x4x6 pickets on 2x3x8
rails on 4x4 posts. There is a 2" gap between the pickets and the
ground, so the pickets rely on the 3 rails for support. Now I see that
a couple of bottom rails have a faily large hole in them (I forgot to
check every rail individually for knots). They look ok now - no sagging
- but I'm afraid they might break in time. What's the best way to
reinforce these rails? Put a little 2x3 section like a band-aid above
A splice made up of the pickets placed above and below the hole might be
less obvious (thinner wood). You can also get metal brackets to screw
across the gap which have little profile and can be painted over to make it
even less obvious.
OTOH, you can also wait for it to break before fixing it.
If you have loose knots or large checks, you can fill them with polyurethane
glue then sand and paint over that
For the truly ready-to-fail boards with large knots, just go get
another complete 2x3x8 for each one and sister the new board above the
weak one. Here's the thought:
There are two forces on these stringer boards - vertical due to weight
and horizontal due to wind as well as children's soccer balls bouncing
off the fence. Those fence pickets are very soft wood. The only way
that the strength can be fully improved is to connect to the posts on
Thanks for all your suggestions. This is such an informative and
Now I have to decide which option to pursue - I think I'm going to put
in some glue and find a metal bracket! (Metal is stronger than
pickets). And if the rail breaks, there is always the sister rail
Wouldn't the lowest/bottom backer rails/stringer boards be subject to
the highest load from all the weight of the pickets in the panel,
since the pickets are hanging and not resting on the ground? I think
the OP has good reason to worry about breakage if there is a big hole
in the wood where the knot was.
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