How To Build a Horizontal Fence-It’s Amazingly Easy!

Horizontal Fence Run

How To Build A Horizontal Fence

(Photo Heavy Post)

There are many types of wood fencing available. You can buy fencing in pre made sections.  But we just built the easiest fence we have ever installed. It also has a modern clean line look that makes people notice. We have had cars stop in front of our house just to look at our horizontal fencing,

What Is A Horizontal Fence?

In horizontal fencing the board run lengthwise, not up and down. There is less bracing involved than traditional wood fencing, and with two people it goes up so quickly.  Horizontal fencing is made up of 4×4 fence posts cemented into the ground, fence boards, and trim boards. Here’s the great thing about the trim boards, they can cover a multitude of sins and make the fence look professional. And of course every crafter understands using trim to cover up the ugly.

Advantages Of A Horizontal Fence

When I was researching fencing, horizontal fence just made the most sense. You see when you live in the Pacific Northwest, it seems every couple of years we are replacing multiple fencing boards. They tend to rot out with all the moisture we have here. We were able to build 200 ft of fencing in 3 days. They were long days, but once we started nailing it went up really quick! This 3 days did not include staining the fence.

You need 6 foot long boards. Longer than that you will risk not having enough integrity in the fence without lots of extra bracing. You can use 4′ x 6″, 6’x6″, 8’x6″, ect. It all depends on the look you are going for. In our case we chose to use 8″ x 6′ boards.

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What You Need To Build

A Horizontal Fence

The supplies to build a horizontal fence are surprisingly basic. We were able to do all cutting of  4 x 4’s and boards with a hand saw.

  • String line to keep posts in line with your property line.
  • 2 wood stakes
  • Landscape marking paint
  • 4×4’s x 8′ Presure treated 
  • Fence boards-You need 6 foot long boards. Longer than that you will risk not having enough integrity in the fencing. You can use 4′ x 6″, 6’x6″, 8’x6″, ect. It all depends on the look you are going for. In our case we chose to use 8″ x 6′ boards. The boards we used were cedar.
  • Trim Boards-6′ x 4″
  • Nails or screws if you prefer. They will be covered by the trim boards
  • Finish nails
  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Level
  • Concrete 60 lb bags. Approximately 40 lbs per hole
  • Post hole digger or shovel
  • Stain or Paint of your choice
  • Paint brush or paint sprayer

How To Build A Horizontal Fence

**In this last section of fencing I am using for the example, we were building step down sections for the front yard. Directions are for a 6′ fence.

Marking The Ground

You will want to ensure that you do not build your fence past your property line. We used a metal detector to locate our property markers, since they had long been grown over. We chose to build our fence 3″ inside of the property line just to make sure. We also talked to our neighbors so everyone was on the same page of where the property line was officially located.

Once you know where your property lines are, pound 2 stakes into the ground on either end of your intended fence line, and run string between them to get your straight line for setting your posts. Then measure every 6′ and mark with landscape paint. The center of each 4 x 4 is at 6′. So you are measuring 6′ from the center of the 4 x4 to the center of the next 4 x 4. You can pick up landscape marking paint at your local hardware store.

Horizontal Fence

Setting Your 4×4 Posts

Setting your posts is the most time consuming part, because you are literally waiting for concrete to dry. We dug each post hole approximately 20″ deep.  We placed the post and then poured water into each hole to fill approximately 2/3 of the hole around the post. We then poured dry Concrete into the hole, stirring it in with a small garden shovel. For each hole we used approximately 2/3 of a 60lb bag of concrete.  We then added more water or concrete, until we got the concrete to a thick paste consistency. 

After placing the posts you need to level the post. We checked them on all 4 sides, making adjustments if needed before the concrete got too firm.

Horizontal fence posts

Now take a break. We wait 24 hours for the concrete to set up (some climates it will dry quicker), before starting on the fence boards.

Leveling Your Fence Boards

The most important thing to make a Horizontal Fence work, is to always start with the bottom board and work up. Put your bottom board in place as close to the ground as you wish. Line it up with both 4 x 4’s. Pull out your level. The bottom board must be level for straight fencing. I’ll talk later of how to slope horizontal fencing.

Horizontal Fence Board Level

After you have leveled the bottom board, nail it in place. Now you are ready to get busy.  You also need to make sure your fence boards line up on the center of the 4 x 4. The next section will meet at the same center of your post. 

You can use a piece of wood for a spacer if you would like to have a horizontal gap between the boards.

We chose to place the boards edge to edge  on top of each other with no gaps.

**If your boards are not fully dry when when you start building your fence, there will be a  slight natural gap that occurs as the boards dry.

We live in the Pacific Northwest and our boards were not fully dry. We knew they would give us a natural gap over time, and we were fine with that.

Horizontal Fence Run

For our fence using 6′ x 8″ boards, each section required 10 boards, 2- 4×4’s, and 2 trim boards.

Cutting Off Your Posts

After nailing or screwing all your boards in place for the section, go back and cut off the top of the 4 x 4 posts. We did this by marking where we needed to cut for a straight line, and then used a hand saw to cut off the excess post. 

Horizontal Fence Cutting 4 x 4

Adding Your Trim

Now we are at the “Lets pretty it up!” stage. We took a trim board and placed 1 trim board over each seam of where the two section meet. Match the trim board up with the top of your cut off 4 x 4 post. Using finish nails, nail the trim board in place. Continue trimming out your fence until you have finished all sections.

Since the fence end did not butt up with another section we added an additional trim board to trim the end of the fence, giving it a nice finish.

Staining Or Painting Your Horizontal Fence

At this point you can stain, paint, or let your fence age naturally. We chose to stain ours. We used Valspar transparent stain in Canyon Brown. We did start hand painting  on the stain, but switched to a paint sprayer to speed up the process. The Paint Sprayer we used was the Wagner Flexio 570. It’s easy to use and inexpensive for a paint sprayer.

Wagner Flexio 570

Now stand back and admire your beautiful fence!  There you have it.

Now we’re on to landscape planning.

Horizontal Fence Step Down RS

*Building Horizontal Fencing On A Slope

When you are working in an area where you need to slope the fencing, slope your first board on the bottom. We let the contour of the land determine the amount of slope.

Keep the same degree of slope as you continue to add your fence boards. Remember the seam where the sections meet will be covered by those trim boards. No one will see what the sloping seam looks like when you are finished.

The Wagner Flexio 570 link can be found below.


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