Texas Fence Guide Glossary
Has a fence ever caught your eye because of the way it looked? Have you ever wanted a fence with a special design or feature but didn’t have the words to describe it? Or do you just love fences like we do?
Congratulations! You are in the right place. We’ve outlined a handy glossary of common fence design and construction terms so that you can speak about your fence, and other fences, with authority— and get the fence you want. So hold on to your batten boards, stay posted, and you will have the foundation necessary to understand your fence and the interesting fences you see around town.
Fence similar in construction to iron fences, but made of aluminum. Although they bend easier than iron, aluminum fences are rust resistant, making them a better solution for areas with high salt-spray.
Wound steel wire with attached barbs. Barbed wire is used as a security measure on chain link fences to deter trespassers, or in agricultural fences to prevent livestock from escaping.
Cedar Batten Boards
Structural wood fence addition. As wood fences age, their pickets will naturally dry out and shrink. Cedar batten boards are added between pickets during installation to cover gaps that naturally occur over a fence’s lifetime, ensuring maximum privacy.
Interwoven steel wire used for fences. Chain link is a durable, cost-effective material for fencing large areas, and is commonly used for fences around warehouses, storage facilities, cell phone tower sites, baseball fields, schools, and playgrounds.
Iron and aluminum fence design with curved, raised pickets. It is similar to an extended top design, but pickets curve at the top instead of extending straight up.
Custom Ornamental Iron
Fabricated iron used for custom iron fences and gates. Ornamental iron can be made into any shape a customer wants, but it is a more expensive option than standard iron designs. Popular applications include putting the name of a ranch or family surname on a driveway gate or fence, and using Texas stars or state silhouettes for decoration.
Metal rings placed between the pickets and rails on the top portion of an iron or aluminum fence for added aesthetic value.
Iron and aluminum fence design with raised pickets. On an extended top iron fence, the pickets rise over the rails, creating a top row of pickets between the posts.
Similar to post caps, finials are decorative additions for iron and aluminum fences designed to sit atop each individual picket. Designs vary but include Triad, Quad Flare, and Fleur de lis.
Iron and aluminum fence design where pickets do not rise above the top rail. Flat top iron fences create a clean, uniform line at the top of the fence.
Rust-resistant steel used for iron and chain link fence materials. Galvanized steel is treated with a layer of zinc to prevent oxidization and rust. Galvanized steel can withstand moisture in most climates except where there is heavy salt-spray .
Used to measure any thickness of metal. The lower a gauge is, the thicker the material will be. For example, most residential chain link is 11.5 ga and commercial chain link fences are typically 9 gauge, while a chain link fence that sees repeated physical contact, such as a baseball backstop fence, may be a thicker 6 gauge to prevent damage and warping.
Fence that alternates the “bad” rail side and “good” picket side of the fence every 7 feet. Good-neighbor fences provide the same amount of rail and picket side for each neighbor’s fence, negating disagreements about who gets which side of the fence.
These are specific methods used to fence hilly or contoured areas. Different slope types, or grade changes, are used to address the change in elevation over the length of a fence.
- Stepping – This style of fence gradually steps down the slope, resembling stair steps. Stepping is for steep slopes where a fence cannot be “racked” enough to follow the grade and must be stepped. Stepping a fence results in gaps underneath the fence that can be covered or left open if the space is not an issue.
- Grade/Racking – This style of fence follows the contour of the slope on which the fence is installed. The tops of the fence will be uneven and follow the same contour as the terrain. Racking can be accomplished with Wood, Vinyl, and Rackable Iron fence types.
- Level – This style of fence keeps the fence level with the highest point of the terrain. They are generally used in bowl shaped areas of terrain where there is a dip between two high points. Filling in the gaps underneath the fence with underpinning is recommended if you have dogs and small children. Any fence type can be level.
Horizontal Picket Fence
Wood fence design. Horizontal picket fences have the same post configuration as a standard wood fence, but the pickets run horizontal and attach to the posts instead of to the rails. Vertical rails are used to add extra stability to the horizontal pickets.
Design feature normally placed at the top or bottom of wood fences. Lattice is formed by criss-crossing planks of wood to create an open grid pattern offering a view of a fence’s surroundings.
Structural element of wood, iron, and aluminum fences. Pickets are the dominant visual element of most fences. They generally run vertically and are situated on the fence rails that run between fence posts. Pickets can also be fastened horizontally , which is a new, popular trend for wood fences.
Structural element of all fences. Posts are the load bearers of a fence and keep the fence upright. The bottom portion of posts are buried into the soil and normally anchored by concrete. Rails are attached to posts so that pickets can be placed between the posts to complete the fence. There are 3 types of posts used on fences. Terminal posts are at the start and end point of a fence, corner posts are placed at every bend of a fence line, and line posts are any post in between terminal and corner posts.
Post serve a functional purpose of closing the top of round and square post tubing to prevent water from collecting. In addition to it’s functionality there are a few options for decorative post caps.
Prefabricated Iron Panels
Prefabricated panels are iron or aluminum fence panels made in a factory with galvanized material and typically powder coated. The advantage of prefabricated panels is that welds are done in a controlled environment and coated creating a much longer lifespan than traditional iron fences welded in the field and painted.
Iron and aluminum fence design with spear-like tops on pickets.
Colored plastic slats for chain link fences that are used to decrease visibility and sometimes for aesthetics. Privacy slats primarily come in green, brown, tan, or black, but custom colors and options are available.
Iron and aluminum fence panels used to follow grade. Their patented design allows the pickets to remain vertical, while rails follow grade.
Structural element of wood, iron, and aluminum fences. Rails run between fence posts and secure pickets to the fence. Rails run horizontally across the top and bottom of fences and are generally kept to one side of the fence unless certain designs, such as a good-neighbor fence , are specified.
Ranch Style Fence
Wood fence design used primarily for rural and agricultural fences. Ranch style fences have open spaces between the posts and pickets so while they don’t provide privacy, they are a cost effective solution for fencing wide open areas.
Similar in function to barbed wire, razor ribbon is a flattened piece of steel with sharp sections stamped out of it creating a razor blade look and feel. Razor ribbon is primarily for security on fences to deter trespassers from climbing over or crawling under a fence.
Rot boards are at the bottom of fences, beneath the pickets. Typically used on wood fences, rot boards funnel moisture away from the cedar pickets to extend the pickets’ lifespan.
Salt content in the air that speeds up rusting on iron fences. Areas near large bodies of water, such as the Gulf Coast area, have high concentrations of salt spray.
Aluminized Steel – Galvanized steel coated with an aluminum top layer. Aluminized steel is mostly used for chain link fences in areas of high salt spray- such as the Gulf Coast- to prevent rust.
Scalloped Cedar Fence
Wood fence design where pickets are cut to create a curved contour at the top of the fence. The pickets are cut to different lengths to create the scalloped design.
Fence design similar in concept to a good-neighbor fence . Shadowbox Fences alternates each individual picket one-for-one on each side of the fence, whereas a good-neighbor fence alternates entire sections of pickets.
Protective and decorative finish for wood fences. Stains apply color to wood fences while allowing the pickets’ natural wood grain to show through. Most stains come in neutral, wood-tone colors like tan, brown, and red, but custom colors can be applied. A well-stained wood fence has an increased lifespan over a non-stained fence.
Pine that has been treated with a fungicide and insecticide. Treated pine is primarily used for fence posts since it can withstand the fluctuating moisture content of soil.
Treated lumber planks used to close off the area between fence pickets and the ground. Underpinning is primarily used when a fence is a built on uneven terrain to close gaps that pets or small children could escape through.
“Vinyl Coated” describes chain link fences with a vinyl coating applied. Vinyl coated chain link provides a softer surface than bare chain link and is ideal for chain link fences in areas with lots of children, such as playgrounds. The vinyl coating reduces abrasions and scrapes from contact with chain link. Also limits exposure of the metal to the elements.
Western Red Cedar
Wood from the coniferous western red cedar tree. Western red cedar is an ideal fence material for Houston and surrounding Gulf Coast areas due to its ability to maintain a consistent moisture content even in high humidity and heavy rains. Western red cedar also contains natural oils that repel wood burrowing insects.
Chain link or iron fence add-on used to deflect wind or to increase privacy. Wind screens come in different transparency levels and can be used to reduce visibility or prevent passersby from seeing inside your fence. Wind screens are typically used inside construction sites.
Number system for grading the quality of a wood picket. Higher grades come from the center of the tree, while lower grades are found near the outside edge of the tree.
#2 Grade – Industry standard for fence boards both cedar and treated pine. This grade does have knots and imperfections. Typically has holes and knots.
Other grade options:
Clear Grade – The highest wood grade and has no knots or holes
#1 Grade – the second highest fence grade. #1 grade pickets have some knots, but fewer than