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A wood shadowbox fence.

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Original Post: Follow the post or keep the top level?

c1351996 Member

Planning to replace existing shadowbox fence, parts of which are on a slight slope which does not follow with the full-length pickets. The installer appears to have cut the pickets on the bottom along the slope and kept the top level. I know it doesn't look like it in the pic, but it is level on top.

The fence is only 68.5" at the house, then gradually the pickets get longer and work up to the allowed 72" as you go away from house down slope to the gate hinge post. The majority of the fence is on level ground after a 90 degree turn up into the backyard, so my main concern is this gate area, especially if I use PVC. A local supplier says he can only make square PVC gates, NOT sloped, but I'm still considering wood.

That said, what would you do at gate area? Follow the slope with full pickets/panels or cut them to keep the top level?

Marq1 Member

Keep the top level as much as possible!

Wirepuller38 Member

Keep all the pickets the same height and follow the slope.

c1351996 Member

That's what I thought!

FWIW: A quick search seems to tell me that the general rule of thumb is to keep all the pickets the same height and follow the slope. That said, if following the slope with PVC, there are a couple of concerns that come to mind:
1) There's going to be a pizza slice-shaped gap at the house. How would you deal with that gap?
2) What issues, if any, can potentially arise from the PVC gate following the slope?

Wirepuller38 Member

When following the slope, all pickets are the same height and all pickets are plumb.

beelzebob Member

Follow the old layout unless you want to move fence posts. Since the fence is enclosing a pool, there has to be regulations for allowable gaps at the bottom and minimum fence height. Make sure your replacement meets both.

c1351996 Member

I'm following the old layout as closely as I can and have removed the first two posts. The one just behind the house was easy—about a foot of concrete down. It was sitting on top of the foundation. The gate hinge post was 3.5 feet of concrete down a 7"-wide strip of earth between concrete on two sides and pavers on another. Needless to say, some pavers had to come out. Whether I go with PVC or wood will determine exactly where the new posts must go. Code here says wood posts every four feet vs PVC posts every six feet. I can't put a new middle stringer in the middle; it must be higher so it can't be used as a step to climb over. Because of the pool, I also believe there's a minimum height requirement on the latch/lock. I'll ask about an allowable gap at the bottom as well as minimum fence height.

GregsFence Forum Topic Moderator

From the look of the picture, it seems the installer did cut the bottom of the fence to follow the grade, but you do not have to. There are options.

You could move the gate over towards the house. Moving it over about another foot or so would allow the gate to be more on the flat of the grade, thus you could have an even top on the right as well as the left of the gate. Then after that you can slope the top of the fence down to the corner height and then straight around the yard.

You could also bring the gate directly up to the house, making the first post closest to the house the latch post. Then the gate surely would be in the flat of the grade.

Much of your fence can be done in either material. If you are looking for privacy, the solid PVC around a pool looks awesome when installed, but depending on your climate conditions it may or may not have issues with the plastic long-term. Wood works pretty much all the time, but its life span is limited. Depending on weather conditions in your area, wood could have a long-term life, just as it could have a very short-term life.

As for the PVC gate being cut to slope, I bet they could cut the gate to height. If you need a slope of only 2 inches difference from the hinge side to the latch side, why not just cut the gate 2 inches shorter overall?

The space under the gate will not interfere with code. As long as no one can get through that 2-inch space, the code is still enforced.

c1351996 Member

I don't think moving the gate is a real option because the gate is at the concrete walkway that comes from the pool.

As for steps, if I use wood, I must go four feet between posts (six feet with PVC) on sections to follow code. That said, without seeing it, I tend to agree—the steps would look kind of short.

As for material, I've ruled out aluminum and chain link, so I'm deciding between PT pine and PVC. Which would you use in South Florida?

As for the PVC gate being cut to slope—yes, the manufacturer says they can cut the gate two inches shorter overall, but talked about me buying an extra piece to attach myself, which would cover the gap. This doesn't sound very appealing to me. Driving around, I saw some with larger gaps at the bottom, which I don't like, either.

How about a PVC fence gate on a slope, which keeps height?

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