Once the exclusive hallmark of a high-end modern new build, horizontal fences are popping up everywhere. I love how they can add a contemporary shine to an older home. With more builders experienced in horizontal fence construction, it's no longer considered an unusual request, and prices have come down. As always, it helps to know what you want and to be informed before you contact a builder for a quote.
Take a walk with me around my Etobicoke neighbourhood and check out some horizontal fences.
1. Basket Weave
This basket weave-style fence is being allowed to naturally weather to a greyish hue. See the photo below for a basket weave that has been stained. One other design difference between the two is the use of a flat 2" x 4" to finish the fence sections to an equal height, whereas the lower photo has the fence posts left taller and then capped. It's a personal preference. I would, however, always recommend 6" posts, which you see in the photo above. We are getting some crazy wind storms in the GTA and stronger posts are a good idea.
One potential issue with the basket weave is the gaps that occur if a board is warped. Have a look at the right side, a third of the way up and you'll see what I mean. I'm curious if that one board could be replaced with a straighter plank to eliminate that gap.
When I walked by this yard I could see right inside, so if privacy is a consideration you should opt for a different fence style.
2. Board on Board
Board on board is less expensive to construct because you're only finishing one side of the fence. However, all lumber shrinks as it dries and those spaces between the boards can and will become more pronounced over time, reducing your privacy.
If you opt for this style, have the boards placed right against each other during construction so you will end up with the smallest possible gap a few months later.
As you can see here, horizontal fences tend to accentuate any flaws in lumber. You want to have good communication and clear instructions with your fence builder about your expectations. Do an informal inspection every section and work out any problems before the job is completed.
This style is not finished the same on both sides; there is a "good side" and a "bad side". This is the "bad" side, because it is less finished with the vertical 2" x 2" support piece in the middle.
3. Board on Board - non pressure treated
The fence at one of my favourite homes in the neighbourhood (a David Smalls design) is also board on board, but not pressure treated. I'm assuming cedar, since that is the next most common fence lumber but perhaps it's something else. The takeaway here is nice, even spacing with good straight boards and a natural stain to finish. Lovely.
Side note: I believe that drilled hole at the bottom is for drainage, which is a crucial conversation to have with your landscaper and fence builder if your yard has a lot of hardscaping. Without positive drainage you'll have a pond and a skating rink for some of the year.
4. Horizontal good neighbour
For the ultimate in privacy, you can't beat the "good neighbour" style, so-called because it looks identical from both sides. It is the most expensive to construct because of increased lumber and labour. It is also more forgiving of less-than-perfect boards. But your fence builder does need a carpenter's eye to space things correctly.
One downside to this style is a distinct lack of airflow. It will contribute to a warmer micro climate in your yard, which may or may not be an issue depending on your orientation and shade coverage.