Fencing Buying Guide
- You want to restyle your garden design
- You have a new house with a new garden that needs fencing
- Your fence has blown down in the wind
- Your fence has started to rot and is falling apart
All of these are excellent reasons to build a fence and, therefore, buy fence panels.
When you take a first glance at the products available, the world of fencing can seem confusing: What are the differences between treatments? Do I want traditional fencing or decorative fence panels? Which fence is actually mine?
Well, our guide to buying a fence is here to answer those questions and lots more that will come up along the way.
Let’s get started.
This guide will cover the topics below. Click a topic to go straight to the information you need.
3 foot and 4 foot fence panels are most commonly used for low level fencing such as a front garden boundary.
5 foot and 6 foot fencing provides increased privacy and security.
Not all 6x6 fence panels are exactly 6x6. The same goes for all other sizes. These are approximate measurements that act as a starting point. Because of the difference in European and Standard fence shapes, some 6x6 panels are 5’11” x 5’11”. ALWAYS check the specification guide on each product page for precise, detailed measurements.
There are limitations on how high your fence can be. If you are unsure, have a quick read of our blog on our sister site: How tall can my fence be?
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Traditional fencing includes Overlap, Feather Edge, Picket and Closeboard. It is used for creating strong, practical garden boundaries – particularly with 6x6 fence panels for privacy and security.
Decorative fencing not only creates a boundary but offers an attractive frame for your garden. Beautiful backdrops for your flower beds and garden features, decorative fence panels include interesting constructions such as slatted, hit & miss and lattice fencing.
The names of the types of fencing are related to how they are constructed. Let’s take a closer look.
Traditional Fencing Construction
There are four main types of traditional fence construction: Overlap, Featheredge, Picket and Closeboard.
- horizontal boards overlapping each other
- available with a waney edge design or a more contemporary straight cut finish
- offer privacy and security
- the most economical fence panel construction
- overlapping vertical boards supported by horizontal battens on the reverse
- each board is tapered with a thicker edge and a thinner edge
- rigid build copes well with seasonal movement
- look out for heavier duty featheredge with thicker boards and more supporting battens
- offer privacy and security
- an open construction of spaced pales along a horizontal rail
- traditional yet decorative fencing ideal for front garden boundaries
- matching picket gate available
- showcases your garden plants
- overlapping vertical boards supported by horizontal battens on the reverse
- full perimeter frame for increased strength and security
- usually have an extra supporting batten compared to featheredge or vertical
- excellent for security and privacy
Decorative Fencing Construction
There are four main types of decorative fence construction: Tongue & Groove, Hit & Miss, Slatted and Lattice fencing.
Tongue and Groove Fencing
- high specification fence panels with thick interlocking boards
- fully framed with a rebate frame for added strength and security
- thick, smooth, flat boards create a modern, sleek finish
- high level security and privacy
Hit and Miss Fencing
- boards are alternatively fixed to the front and back of the supporting battens
- available with horizontal or vertical boards
- creates an attractive, textured pattern - equally attractive from both sides
- allows air to pass through for increased wind resistance
- combines privacy and attractiveness
- modern horizontal slats
- single slatted for partial screening or double slatted for more privacy
- double slatted offers the same appearance from both sides
- pre-painted grey versions available
- also known as trellis fencing
- used as garden screening for a more open feel
- can be used to partition off different areas
- ideal for supporting climbing plants
- pre-painted for your convenience
- grey on-trend colour for modern gardens
- boards are attached to the frame in a diagonal direction
- results in a unique, decorative V shape
Dome Top Fencing
- the panel features a dome or wave top outline
- available on a range of different fence panel constructions
- horizontal boards weave in and out of three vertical battens
- decorative, textured finish offering privacy and visual appeal
Fencing for noisy areas.
If you live by a busy road, a school or other noisy area, you may want to opt for noise reduction fence panels. These award winning, technologically advanced tongue and groove fence panels can reduce noise by up to 30dB.
Fencing for uneven ground.
If you have a slope, you will want to “step” your fence panels. See our Installing a Fence section below for more details on this. For very uneven gardens, fence panels may not be the best option. Using packs of fencing boards will allow you to create a bespoke fence that can be adapted to the ground conditions.
Fencing for windy areas.
If you live high on a hill or in a particularly windy area, look for fencing that has some form of spacing in between boards, such as hit & miss fencing. This will allow wind to pass through rather than push against the panel. If you prefer solid fencing for privacy, we recommend using longer fence posts and opting for slotted fence posts; this way the fence panel can slide in and be screwed securely in place.
Fencing on concrete.
You can use the same fence panels and fence posts as you would for grassed areas. However, you will require a fence post shoe (also known as a bolt-down fence post support). Your fence post will be secured into the shoe and this is then bolted to the ground. Unlike fence posts used in grassy areas, fence posts being bolted into shoes do not require extra length for being inserted below ground.
Fencing on a wall.
If you wish to add fencing on top of a wall, such as a low front garden boundary wall, you have a few choices. If the wall is wide enough, you can use shoes as described above. However, if the wall is not thick enough, you will risk the drilling process breaking off parts of the wall. In this case, you can either bolt fence posts to the side of the wall or into the ground at the bottom of the wall. If your wall features brick columns, you can also consider horizontal arris rails between the columns and using individual boards rather than panels to complete the fence.
What is Dip Treatment?
Dip treated fence panels can be recognised by their orange/amber colour finish. Dip-treating is the quickest and cheapest method of applying preservative to the timber.
The wood is dipped in the preservative, providing it with a surface covering. However, it is not as long-lasting as pressure treatment and so requires annual applications of preservative to maintain protection. The majority of dip-treated fence panels will offer a 10 year guarantee if supported by annual retreatment.
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What is Pressure Treatment?
Pressure-treated fence panels have the preservative forced deep into the heart of the grain of the wood under great pressure. They can be recognised by their lighter colour which may appear slightly green or have greeny-blue patches. This is simply the preservative residue and will fade with time.
In effect, the preservative becomes an integral part of the timber giving it a long life and effective protection against rot. Anti-rot guarantees with pressure treated fencing can be as much as 15 years, saving you both time and money as there’s no need to buy and apply treatment every couple of years.
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Which treatment should I choose?
This is both a budget and time issue.
A dip-treated fence panel will cost less initially as the process is not as costly for the manufacturer. However, you will end up spending more money on tubs of treatment, brushes etc and spend time reapplying each year. A big garden may have extensive fencing which will require the purchase of a lot of treatment and a considerable amount of time spent painting. If you forget to re-treat, you are risking the integrity of your garden fence.
Dip-treated fencing also requires a gravel board to distance it from the ground and protect it from the damp. You will need a gravel board for each fence panel purchased.
A pressure-treated fence panel will cost a little more at first but you can just put it up and leave it, knowing it will resist the weather without more treatments for another decade and a half. This will save on time and money. Gravel boards are not essential for pressure-treated fencing, though they do finish off the fence run and provide extra protection.
Depending on the area of your garden that you are fencing, you may require a gate to complete your fencing run.
There are two main purposes for gates – a full side gate that offers security and privacy and a lower gate that offers a decorative entrance point.
Most fence panel ranges will have a matching gate. This creates a cohesive, intentional design for your garden border.
Wooden or Concrete Fence Posts?
Wooden fence posts must be pressure treated because they are inserted into the ground. They have a more natural aesthetic, are easier to manoeuvre and can be a little more forgiving if your measurements are out a millimetre or two. Pressure treated posts do not require annual treatment but should be checked regularly for damage and stability.
A concrete fence post is stronger and more durable but without the charm of timber. Concrete requires no maintenance except the occasional wipe down if algae builds up. They are a reliable, easy option for supporting your fence panels.
How tall should my fence posts be?
As a rule of thumb, one third of your fence post should be underground or a minimum or 2ft – whichever is greater. So, for a 5ft fence you would need a 7ft fence post. However, if you are using a gravel board that raises your fence panel, you will need to take the height of the gravel board into account too.
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Do I need post caps or finials?
The end of the post is the most vulnerable above ground area of a fence post. Rain, frost and snow will naturally gather here. Post caps provide another layer of protection against moisture and are angled to deter sitting water.
Finials are simply decorative so are purely a matter of personal taste.
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Do I need a gravel board?
If you are purchasing dip treated fence panels, we strongly recommend you use gravel boards. The gravel boards are either durable concrete or timber that has been pressure treated to resist rot and fungal disease. They will protect the base of your fence panels from damp.
Even with pressure treated panels, gravel boards play a role. They provide a strong surface for your fence to rest on and take some of the strain off the fixings during wind and movement due to temperature changes.
You can choose concrete gravel boards or wooden gravel boards to suit your needs. See the section about fence posts for further thoughts on the difference.
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Check out this blog on our sister site: How to Install a Fence. Here you will find a checklist of the equipment needed to build a fence plus a visual video guide to building a fence.
If you are building a fence on sloped ground, you will need to follow a different installation process. The result will be a “stepped” fence. The fence posts should always be as tall as the higher panel of each adjacent pair of panels. All panels should be kept level. Gravel boards will be vital and may have to be partially inserted into the ground, depending on how steep your slope is. Though we do not have a specific video for this, you will find many options on YouTube.
BEFORE you begin, make sure you know the answers to the following questions:
- Which fence is mine? If you’re not sure, read our blog on our sister site here.
- How tall can my fence be? Find out in our blog on our sister site here.
You do not want to fall foul of planning regulations and be forced to take down your freshly installed fencing.
How soon will delivery be available?
Many of our products are available on pick-a-day delivery. This means you will be able to select your delivery day before you purchase. This will be shown on the product page if available.
If pick-a-day is not available, look for lead times on individual products as these will tell you when a product will be available for dispatch. You will then be contacted by the manufacturer who will arrange a delivery date with you.
If you make any changes to your order once paid for, this can change your delivery date. Therefore, please check you have ordered everything you need.
What are the delivery charges?
Fencing and decking orders require a minimum order value to qualify for free delivery. Orders below the minimum value incur a delivery charge. Some more remote postcodes do incur delivery surcharges even where free delivery is available to others.
Use the postcode checker on the product page to ensure we deliver to your area and to identify any charges.
If you have any other questions or require any clarification on any of the information above, please call our friendly, knowledgeable, UK-based Customer Service Team. We are always happy to help.
So, have you measured your space yet? Yes? Right, you are ready to shop for your new fence! Exciting times ahead…