I notice the old fences around all have 2 horizontal rails for the
boards to attach to. I've also noticed that new specs often show 3
rails, without comment. I'm thinking that this might be due to the
fence boards being much thinner than they used to be.
I like to place my rails long side vertical, so I don't get excessive
sagging over time. But I'm thinking that unless I expect the fence to
see hard wind loads or other severe attacks (kicks, etc.), 2 rails
might be enough.
Depends on the size of the rails, the size and weight of the fence
boards/pickets, the distance between the posts, the material of the
rails (vinyl over steel or aluminum, wood species), the aesethetic
sense of the the owner/installer, etc.
You didn't indicate rather it is a 6' or 8' fence. If you are going
with an 8' then use three rails without question. On the 6' fence,
you can get away with two but if it were me doing the fence, I would
use three rails and a 1x8 or 1x12 kick board at the bottom. The three
rails will give better support and keep the pickets from bowing. The
kick board (or rot board if you prefer) will keep the pickets out if
the mud and water giving them added life. The kick board can easily
be replaced as needed.
Also, mound the concrete around the posts to force the water to run
off instead of seeping in around the posts. I did that and after a
couple of years I added silicone caulking around the posts. Wait a
couple of years to allow the wood to dry and shrink. I replaced the
pickets on a 20 year old fence a couple of years ago and only had to
replace the pickets and a few of the rails. I didn't use the kick
board the first time but added it when replacing. The posts were
still in good shape and didn't need to be replaced. Oh yes, that was
in Houston too.
I've seen fences installed after Huricane Ike hit down here in Houston and
the ones with two rails have boards warping and bowing like crazy. I mean
every board is going a different direction. This is in more than just one
neighborhood so it looks like the quality of fence board in general has gone
down. 3 rails (top middle and bottom) may help with this warping issue.
My house backs up to a 200' wide power-line easement. The houses on my side
of the easement all had their fences installed with metal posts. No a single
fence came down during hurricane Yikes! The houses on the other side of the
easement all had wooden posts. Almost all of them were flattened.
Are you referring to the vertical posts in the ground? What size were the
wooden posts? In our area they usually use pressure-treated 4x4's. In
almost all cases, whether pre-bilt panels or built in place, there are
three rails supporting the vertical pickets.
Yeah, the vertical posts. Best I could tell (from 200' away) they were the
standard 4x4s. The laterals were 2x4s, but it didn't make any difference.
The wind snapped the vertical posts at ground level.
Truth be told, I suspect the posts were more than fifteen years old, mostly
rotted, and required only a puff to tumble them over. Of course galvanized
metal posts set in concrete don't rot, so...
Yes, they probably had some rot damage. Our pressure-treated 4x4's are set
in concrete and we live in the desert, so any type of wet rot would
probably not happen. BTW, how do you attach a wooden fence (I'm assuming
something like a stockade fence) to metal posts? Curious. Thanks...
Are they much thinner, or are you only thinking that? Serious
quesiton. I can read your sentence either way.
What kind of fence? Rail? Picket? etc.?
You plan to use 2x4's for rails? When were rails ever that thick?
Even if they once were, thinner rails are used all over the place and
they are fine.
With a rail fence, three rails will each bear as much load as the two
rails would, and the load on the posts will be 50% higher.
Mook, you don't say what kind of fence you're talking about either,
but if two rails warp, so will three.
I have a picket fence, and plenty of the rails are 30 years old. They
look just like they did 26 year, but a bit greyer. Most are 8 feet
long. They are shaped like a parenthesis on one side and straight on
the other. They sell new, treated ones at Home Depot that are close
enough that even I don't notice that they don't match. The new ones
Nobody else said it, so I will- how tall is the damn fence? For a short
fence, 2 rails may be fine, but for a traditional 6-foot privacy fence,
we always used 3. We also usually used alternating-side pickets with an
overlap, so some wind could still blow through. Plus, that way, no
arguments about who gets the pretty side.
6 foot tall privacy fence. All such fences in the area have 2 rails,
and seem to be none the worse off for it. The big problems are post
rotting and leaning as well as fence sag due to the 2X4 rails being
placed with the short dimension vertical.
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