A few months ago my neighbor installed a new cedar picket fence. It’s quite attractive, when viewed from their yard. Unfortunately, like most of these fences, the other side shows all the upright pipes and cross 2X4x. We decided to do something about that and having seen attractive horizontal fences at several locations we decided that would work for us.
I developed a simple plan to make use of our side of the fence our neighbor installed to make the change. The first step was calculating the materials and buying them. The existing fence is cedar except for the galvanized pipes. When I shopped for the cedar I found that it was considerably more expensive than pressure treated pine. Actually, it was almost double so I opted for the pine. The photo below shows a section of the fence as it appeared before the new installation.
As you can see, the pipes and the 2X4 structure are visible and unattractive. The first step was determining was structure I would need to cover the pipes. It turned out that a 2X4 was perfect for this purpose. I have to install 2X4s next to each pipe and another 2X4 in the center of the 8 foot span between the pipes. These 2X4s were installed by screwing them vertically to the 2X4 structure of the existing fence as shown in the photo below.
I used 3 ” exterior screws predrilled at an angle and screwed directly to the existing structure. Notice that there is one 2X4 next to the pipe and another one in the center between the two pipes.
An important step is to shoot a chalk line across the top edge of the cedar picket fence just below the picket cuts. I shot my line 1 1/2″ lower to accommodate the 2X6 upper structure that I chose to install. I think it adds a lot to the design but you can go without it if you prefer. The next photo shows how the 2X4s were drilled to accommodate the 3 inch screws.
Notice that some of the 2X4s had small notches cut. These were done on the 2X4s next to the poles to they would fit over the metal on the existing fence structure to maintain the correct distance between each piece. To keep cost down it was critical to purchase 8 foot pressure treated fence pickets which have the dog ear cut. Once you remove the dog ear the board is slightly shorter than 8 foot making the space between the vertical 2X4s critical. Be sure to check this so your 8 foot fence pickets will fit properly.
To screw the 2X4s correctly make certain the top is even with the chalk line you made on the existing fence. Once the 2X4 is correctly set, drive the screws. It only takes on screw into each 2X4 of the existing fence. Once all the vertical 2X4s are installed you’re ready to cut and install all the 1X6 pressure treated fence pickets. You can do this entire job using cedar but it will cost considerably more. The photo below shows the installation of the 8 foot fence pickets after being cut and installed. I used a pneumatic finish nailer for fasten the pickets to the 2X4s. I am concerned that finish nails may not hold up for the long haul but I didn’t want to use common galvanized nails because of their appearance. If I notice any of the pickets coming loose I will use my other nailer to renail the fence with common nails.
The photo below is the completed fence. Notice that I installed a 2X6 along the top of the fence. This 2X6 is drilled and screwed to the top of each of the 2X4s using the same exterior screws used for the vertical 2X4s.
The last step for us is to stain and seal the fence with a cedar color to protect it. Even though the wood is pressure treated and will hold up to the weather, it will become an unattractive color over the years if not sealed.
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