Are you looking to upgrade your fence and keep it looking its best? There are add-ons that can either increase the aesthetic appeal of your fence or can improve its structural integrity - some even do both! Below are a few ideas of fence add-ons that can improve the overall look of your outdoor living space. Keep these in mind when designing the look of your new fence project. Even if you already have an existing fence, you can add many of these elements later.
One of the most common types of fence accessories is adding a wood lattice to the top of your fence. Lattices add a decorative element to your wood fence and can enhance your property’s curb appeal. Typically lattices are added on to picture frame fences which already have a top rail. Lattices usually range from one to two feet tall. On the west coast, redwood is the most common type of wood for lattices. There are many different types of lattices and they can be added on to a variety of fence styles.
Diagonal lattices are one type of lattice to add to your fence. It’s made up of diagonally crossing slats of wood that leave diamond shaped holes in between. Another type, if you’re looking for a little more privacy, is the privacy lattice. The privacy lattice is basically the diagonal lattice with additional slats of wood to cover up the holes. This would typically be added on to an existing privacy fence.
Square lattice is another, more modern style. It is composed of vertical and horizontal slats of wood that cross and leave square-shaped holes. Finally, there are lattice designs that use only the vertical or horizontal boards. The piano key lattice has just the vertical slats of wood, with each slat equally spaced to create an elegant design. This style is a little pricier than the others because it requires careful craftsmanship to cut and space the wooden slats equally. The horizontal lattice just uses the horizontal slats of wood. This type of lattice works well with a nail up fence.
Post caps add decorative value to your fence as well as better protecting your wooden fence posts. These types of fence products are considered a finishing touch once the hard work of constructing your fence is done and over with. Post caps not only look good, but they also protect your posts from the elements and insect infestation by sealing the top. Choose pressure treated wood for these post caps for extra protection. They also come in more heavy duty metal and aluminum styles.
Besides the material post caps can be made from, they also come in various shapes and styles.
Sometimes homeowners put these post caps only on the fence gates, while others top every wood post with a cap. Either way, when considering your fence installation, think about adding post caps. As far as fence hardware goes, post caps are fairly simple to install and won’t add a ton to your installation costs at checkout. Installing post caps may even be good for a diy project.
A kickboard, also called a “rot board”, is a piece of wood installed at the bottom of a fence. This is the part of your fence that will be in contact with the ground. Because it comes into contact with the ground, the kickboard is usually pressure treated to withstand rot, decay and pest infestations. While there are many types of pressure treatments, the type you want for your kickboards is the kind specifically for “ground contact.”
There are several benefits to installing kickboards. Because the kickboard instead of your fence is in contact with the ground, your fence will last longer and be less susceptible to the elements. The pickets or fence panels, especially if they’re not made from pressure treated lumber, would not last as long if they were in contact with the ground. Kickboards can also be installed in a way that enhances the look and design of your fence. They are used with wooden fences, so if you have a fence made of other materials like a wrought iron fence, wire fence, aluminum fence, chain link fence, or vinyl fence, a kickboard wouldn’t make as much sense. Generally kickboards are used with picture frame fences, but they can also be installed with nail up fences as well.
Retaining walls are great for your fence if it is on uneven terrain. They are also great for holding back soil if your neighbor’s yard is higher than yours, or visa versa. Fences can be built on top of retaining walls and these are known as fences with an integrated retaining wall.
Retaining walls are different from kickboards because they are aimed at holding back soil, as opposed to simply being in contact with the ground instead of the fence. A kickboard’s purpose is to protect the fence from contact with the ground. However wooden retaining walls, like kickboards, are made of lumber that has been pressure treated for contact with the ground. Additionally, it has extra posts spaced every few feet for added support. Wooden retaining walls are best for flat properties.
If you have an existing fence with a wooden retaining wall that you are looking to replace, you’ll need to replace the wooden retaining wall as well. However, if the retaining wall was made of concrete, its structural integrity could be solid enough to re-use for the new fence.
Concrete retaining walls can be made from poured concrete or concrete blocks. They are more expensive than wooden retaining walls, but are stronger and will last longer. Concrete retaining walls are better for properties with uneven terrain. Poured concrete retaining walls are more expensive than concrete blocks.
If your fence needs to stand up to high winds, reinforced rails should be a consideration. Aluminum or steel reinforced rails will help your fence stand up to the pressure. These can be added to any type of fence, but are commonly used with vinyl fences, aluminum picket fences or steel fences.
Fence staining is beneficial for multiple reasons. When your fence is getting a little older and not looking its best, a new stain can give it an easy makeover and extend its lifespan. Staining protects your fence from water, sunlight, and from color fading. If water gets into your fence, it can cause rot. If the water freezes, it can lead to splintering.
A good stain can protect your fence from UV rays that cause its color to slowly fade to gray and keeps your fence looking its best for longer. Staining your fence may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help you protect your larger investment - your fence, and even your house by increasing curb appeal for your home.
Fence stains come in many styles, with the most common being transparent, semi-transparent or solid stains.
A transparent wood stain will let you see the natural grain of the wood and any textural elements that it has. This is also the most affordable type of fence stain. Semi-transparent stains add some color while still showing off the fence’s natural grains and textures. Solid stains come in a variety of colors and will cover the fence’s natural grains. Semi-transparent and solid stains are more expensive than solid stains because they require additional coats of the stain.
For application, make sure the fence is dry - if it is wet the stain will not properly absorb. You should also ensure that the fence doesn’t have a previous stain on it. If it does, that will need to be stripped before applying a new stain to the fence. Even if your older fence doesn’t have a stain on it, a good power wash is recommended to prepare it for staining.
It may be tempting to do the staining yourself, but it is surprisingly labor-intensive and hiring a contractor is usually the best idea. Keep in mind that contractors will normally not agree to just do one side of a fence, because it is so difficult to keep the stain from seeping through to the other side.
Fence add-ons like these can really enhance the look of your outdoor space. You can add lattices and postcaps on the top of your fence, or kickboards and retaining walls underneath your fence. Or if the entire fence needs a little face-lift, look into the different types of stains you can have done. If you need your fence to stand up to high winds, reinforced rails can be a great fence add-ons.