Concave Fence Post Spacing

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Old 11-21-17, 09:03 AM
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Concave Fence Post Spacing

I am going to build a 42" concave style fence along my front and side yards. See attached for panel sample and layout with rough measurements.
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- Materials are 4x4 posts, 2x4 rails, and 1x4 #1 pickets. Building from scratch. Pressure treated from local reputable supplier.
- 8' spacing on center of posts for the long run up side yard.
- Picket spacing ~1 3/4" determined once span distances are established.
- Concave depth 6" - 8" determined once span distances are established.
- 42" max height. OK'd by county.
- Sidewalks lead to front and side of house where there will be 4' gaps in fence.
- Actual corner of lot has a radius and a light pole and thus the angled section instead of 90 degrees.
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I am here to ask advice for the sections of fence where the distance is not a multiple of 8. For a level picket style fence I would use equal spacing or a few 8' sections plus a non 8' section. Does anyone here have experience with concave style fences? What I'm most concerned about is aesthetics with having panel sizes that are not consistent (see drawings attached below). I chose the style because I believe it's unique and looks good with a cape cod style home near Baltimore MD. Is there a different style you recommend? I appreciate your advice. Let me know any clarifications, etc.
 
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Old 11-21-17, 09:28 AM
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Kind of like posts on a deck, if 8' is the max length, which I assume is due to weight & span, anything over that would just be divided to the closed size so all sections are the same length.

It will look odd having 8' section(s) then some other length!
 
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Old 11-21-17, 09:46 AM
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Here are some images of Scalloped Fences which show how others have addressed the issue:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Scal...rl_F56MIdfP9M:
 
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Old 11-21-17, 10:29 AM
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Marq1 - Thanks. That's what I figured. There doesn't seem to be some magic formula or anything. What I will do is keep the posts all in the same plane and even height with the top off the fence so that they are less noticeable.
 
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Old 11-23-17, 03:39 AM
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I am not sure I am seeing the exact measurements clearly.. But on the left side yard, the first number I see is 17 feet, miter corner is 10 feet and the remaining footage is 20 feet?

In regards to the 17 foot section.. the posts are 3-1/2 inches.. And the sections you say are going to be 8 foot on center. You could change the design of your fence to have the posts on the outside of the measurement , toenailing the sections into the side of the post verses nailing or screwing the rails directly into the face of the post.
Doing this would give you 8 foot sections plus 3-1/2" inches per post.. On the 17 foot side you would end up with 2 full sections of 16 feet plus an additional 10-1/2" in posts... which is very close to the 17 foot mark...

On the miter section you could make 2 5 foot sections, but being you are building these sections from scratch I would assume using 10 foot rails and make one large swoop rather than 2 smaller ones. I believe the larger swoop would look a lot better than the two smaller ones...
Drawback would be long term strength.... There may be some sag in the middle of that 10 foot section if up off the ground even the slightest bit.
As for the 20 foot side.. I would encourage dividing the 20 feet up into 3 individual sections.. spacing the pickets to make the section width evenly...
I would not encourage making 2 larger swoop sections in the 20 foot area... In the miter it would not matter too much because it is not going to be a focal point the same way as the side line.. In my opinion anyway... the 3 sections would be better.

I would not install 2 8 foot sections and then one 4 foot section.. Not in the front of the house. You could easily do that in the rear yard... in a corner.. But not in the front of the house.

Now as for the attachment of the rails to the inside of the posts.. I would use one screw or nail , pre-drilled through the rail.. to hold it in place.. Then under the bottom of each rail, top and bottom I would add an L shaped bracket, screwed into the bottom of the rail facing up and screwed into the side of the post. This bracket would support the weight of the rail as well as keeping it attached to the post so that the post and the rails do not pull apart.
Side to side rails to posts are difficult in that the posts dry out and shrink.. the rails also dry out and shrink.. the both of them doing this will cause gaps between the rails and the posts over time. How much of a gap has much to do with those brackets... keeping them together as tight fit as possible is crucial.
It might be advisable to use 10 foot rails on all sections to be 8 foot widths.. screwing the rails into the face of the posts rather the sides... Then spacing the pickets according to the sections.. It is perfectly okay to have one section with a 1 7/8" spacing and the neighboring section having a 1-3/4" spacing... its hardly going to be noticeable to the naked eye... the only folks who would know is you , me and the man on the moon...

As for the style.. Straight cut tops on the pickets work just fine.. But if you put a little extra work into the cutting of each picket creating more of a dog ear cut any mistakes in the cut of the swoop would be lost in the top of the picket being a dog ear verses a straight cut. You see the straight cut top would need to be more or less exact on top.. the dog ear top would be kind of staggered ... giving the illusion of being perfect even if slightly off from one picket to the other. And in time this may be of help if the pickets or the rails sag. Pressure treated wood usually is very wet and with that it is very heavy.. sagging is possible.

Oh and ... dog ear pickets look good with Cape Cod homes... Looking at your roof line, comparing it to the top of the picket... they more or less look the same.
For victorian style homes, a nice Gothic picket looks good... and for a ranch, straight tops and or dog ears, or even sometimes a rounded lollipop look is nice.

Best thought is not to make any section any less than 5 feet wide... Any less than that would make it hard to scallop the tops.. Instead of it being a rounded swoop it would end up being a V .. which would look horrible.

Good luck... I hope I have been of some help.

Gregs Fence NJ....

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Old 11-27-17, 01:21 PM
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GregsFence - Your reply has been an enormous help. You confirmed or clarified some of my ideas and sparked new ones. Thanks for the time and expertise.

One thing I would like to expand upon is picket style. I was planning on drawing an arc on the pickets (likely using flexible PVC) and then cutting the shape with a circ or jig saw. Are you recommending dog-eared concave or dog-eared straight?
 
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Old 12-13-17, 08:16 AM
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The sections being concave, or even convex or even straight would have to look good in spacing's between posts... If straight you would not have to worry too much about spacing between posts if the posts are mounted behind the sections... thus, nailing or screwing through the face of the pickets directly into the face of the posts..
But if you are planning to put the posts between sections, as in the posts are part of the fence, extending slightly higher than the pickets and putting a post cap on the tops of the posts... Then you must make those sections very close to the same length.. otherwise it would just be off kilt to the eye.

Keeping in mind.. if one side of the fence faces to the street to the north, and the other side of fence faces to another street to the East or West,,, no one will really notice the difference in spacing's of sections... In looking at the face of your house you could have 7 or 8 foot wide sections,. and on the other side you could have 6 foot sections... no one would really catch the difference in widths as they turn the corner.

And again... this only matters if the posts are visible from both sides of the fence ( inside as well as outside view)... as in section post, section post...
If the posts are mounted on the inside of the yard and not showing from the face of the fence and if you are doing a straight top section, regardless of the style of picket... then spacing does not matter in the slightest to anyone outside the house looking in. Only the folks inside the yard will notice the spaces between posts.

But going back.. if the fence is a concave or convex.. then we go back to the previous post... In that case correct spacing is everything.

But in your question..., I would take my measurements, see what fits right and if I could go with a proper measurement of spacing and still make it look good then for sure I would go with the posts being installed between the sections... Which almost always looks " Higher end " than the posts being mounted behind the section...

As I always state... posts behind the sections are stronger than posts between...

But if it were my house I would mount them between because that just looks a whole lot sweeter.... and I am a fence guy... and if I ever had a problem with the posts or the sections I would just go out there and fix it as need be.

I hope that helped.. More so, I hope that I did not confuse things too much with opinions added to the facts

Have a wonderful Holiday...

Greg's Fence NJ

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