Picket Fence Styles
The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. As one of the world’s most infamous fences it accomplished its purpose of preventing free travel between East and West Berlin. And with an average height of about 12 feet it also provided the ultimate in privacy.
Few fences rival that of the Berlin Wall; however, a fence has traditionally been an important component of land and home ownership by establishing a boundary or creating privacy. A fence is an excellent means of keeping uninvited guests (people or animals) out and preventing children and pets from straying by keeping them fenced in.
In addition to acting as a boundary, a fence can have another equally important purpose by accenting landscaping and highlighting the architecture of a home or building. A picket fence is one popular style of fence that accomplishes this quite nicely. Although a picket fence doesn’t offer the ultimate in privacy or security, it is a marvelous means of preventing small children and pets from wandering. And a picket fence is unrivaled when it comes to beauty and charm. Though not a match for every style of architecture, a picket fence is a classic style that will fit well in many different settings.
What is it about a picket fence that makes it such a popular choice and the subject of countless paintings? A picket fence is in itself a work of art. In contrast to solid board fencing, the open design of a picket fence can showcase landscaping, yet still provide a defined boundary. Most picket fences are 36 to 48 inches tall and are constructed using a traditional four by four post and two by four rail fence frame that is adorned with neatly spaced pickets. The pickets are usually one by three or one by four boards that are attached to the outside face of the rails. The tops of the pickets are usually cleverly cut into fancy shapes and styles. What’s more, where a fence post typically will end at the top rail, a picket fence post will often extend beyond the top of the fence only to be crowned with a decorative finial.
A picket fence can be as simple or as elaborate as your imagination and budget will allow. Although lumber yards and home centers stock precut pickets, armed with a bit of patience and the right tools you can design and fabricate your custom pickets that will be the envy of your neighborhood. A handsaw or circular saw will work well for simple picket styles such as an Angle, Spear, Round, Point, Flat or Provincial. Fancier styles such as a Spade, Crown, Ball, Crown and Ball or your own special design will require a saber saw. Turning out a decorative finial can be a bit more challenging than customizing pickets. Fortunately, most lumber yards and home centers carry a generous supply of sizes and styles.
Picket fences have traditionally been constructed of wood and painted white. While it is true that wood has been the primary material resource for construction, not all picket fences are or need to be white. Provided the quality of the wood is good, pickets can be painted or stained. Interesting variations exist where the pickets and frame are constructed of wood and the posts are really columns constructed of brick. This can be quite beautiful providing it is in keeping with the architecture of your home.
Though the beauty of a picket fence can be appealing, the periodic painting or staining that the fence will require can be anything but appealing. Enter the new kid on the block – vinyl picket fencing. Not only are the pickets vinyl, the framing (posts, rails and finials) are constructed of vinyl as well. The most obvious advantage to vinyl is that is never needs to be painted or stained. However, vinyl is not maintenance free. With prolonged exposure to the elements – especially the sun — vinyl will oxidize over time, resulting in a dull or chalked finish. This condition can be prevented if the vinyl is regularly washed with a solution of warm water and powdered laundry detergent. With the significant recent growth in vinyl building materials (decking, siding, fencing, windows, etc.) some cleaning manufacturers such as Spray Nine (www.spraynine.com) have created cleaning products designed specifically to clean and preserve vinyl. One of us has a vinyl fence that has been in place for five years and it looks as good now as the day it was installed. Keep in mind that vinyl is not designed to be painted. Therefore, you best like your color choice because there’s not changing it once it’s complete.
If privacy and security are what you need most, a picket fence isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a means to keep your tots and small pets in and, at the same time, bring a certain charm to your home and neighborhood, than a picket fence will surely do the trick.