Fence Terminology

Fences are an important element in any property, providing security, privacy, and adding aesthetic value to the landscape. However, with so many different types of fences and materials available, it can be challenging to understand the terminology used in the fencing industry. From pickets and panels to post caps and rails, there are many terms that are specific to the world of fences. In this article, we will explore the most common terms and phrases used in relation to fences, providing readers with a comprehensive guide to the language of fencing. If you are a homeowner thinking about a new fence installation this article will help you to better understand the terminology used in this field.

Aluminized: In chain link fence, describes fabric woven from steel wire that is coated with aluminum before weaving.

Aluminum Fence: Aluminum fence is a type of fencing manufactured primarily from aluminum, which is lightweight and resists corrosion. Often used for ornamental metal fences.

Barbed tape: Barbed tape, also known as razor wire, is a type of fencing material made of metal strips with sharp edges or spikes, used for security purposes.

Barbed wire: Barbed wire is a type of fencing material made of twisted strands of wire with sharp barbs or spikes protruding at regular intervals, used to prevent unauthorized access or contain livestock.

Bottom rail: A bottom rail refers to a horizontal bar or beam that runs along the bottom of a fence, providing stability and support to the overall structure.

Brace band: A strip of metal shaped to clamp around a post and used with a carriage bolt and nut to attach the rail end to the post. Also used for attaching barbed wire, tension wire, and other items to a terminal post.

Cantilever slide gate: A cantilever side gate is a type of fence gate that is supported by a horizontal beam, or “cantilever,” attached to a vertical post. This design allows the gate to slide open and closed without the need for a track or wheels on the ground. It is counter-balanced with additional framework (weight) to support the gate while it is closed.

Capping rails: Similar to post caps, capping rails are used on top of your fence panels for a decorative and protective finish.

Center stop: A center stop is a device to receive and hold the drop bar on a double gate.

Chain link: A chain link fence is a fence made from steel posts and chain link fabric, typically galvanized but can be vinyl covered. Fabric wires run vertically and are bent and hooked together in a zig-zag pattern creating a diamond shape. Very commonly used commercially and can be topped with barbed wire for security.

Composite fence: A composite fence is a type of fence made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic. This type of fence offers appearance of a traditional wood fence while offering increased durability, resistance to weather and insects, and reduced maintenance requirements.

Corner post: A center post is the post at the corner where two lines of fencing meet, usually at a 90-degree angle.

Criss Cross fence: Criss cross fence is a common name for lattice fencing.

Deer fence: A deer fence is a fence 7½ to 8 feet high designed to prevent the passage of deer.

Diamond: A diamond is the mesh opening formed by the woven wires in chain link fence fabric.

Diamond count: The diamond count is the number of diamond openings from one edge of the fabric to the other. The count of a given fabric shall begin at the first completed diamond at one edge and continue to the unfinished half or full opening at the other edge.

Double swing gate: A double swing gate is a hinged gate with two leaves, most often used to gate driveways or other areas that demand a wide gate.

Drop bar: A drop bar is a component of a double gate latch assembly. (Sometimes called drop rod)

End post: An end post is a post that marks the end of a fence line, with holes on only one side for attaching rails. End posts are typically used as gate posts or terminal posts, such as where the fence abuts a house.

Fabric: Fabric refers to chain link fabric made from wire helically wound and interwoven in such a manner as to provide a continuous mesh without knots or ties except in the form of knuckling or of twisting the ends of wires to form the selvage of the fabric.

Fence line: A fence line is the boundary line created by a fence.

Fence tie: A fence tie is used in chain link fencing to attach the fence to the line posts.

Frame hinge: A frame hinge is a fitting that attaches to the gate frame and functions with the post hinge to enable the gate to swing.

Fence panels: Fence panels are pre-manufactured sections of a fence that are designed to be easily and quickly assembled into a complete fence.

Framework: A framework is the basic structure of a fence supporting the installed fencing and gates, namely the posts, top rails, braces and bottom rail (when specified).

Galvanized: Galvanized refers to the protective zinc coating applied to chain link fabric to prevent rusting.

Galvanized after weaving (GAW): Galvanize after weaving describes chain link fabric that is zinc coated after weaving.

Galvanized before weaving (GBW): Galvanized before weaving describes chain link fabric that is zinc coated before weaving. This process provides a smoother fabric with a more uniform zinc coating, enhancing the rust protection.

Gate: A gate is a structure that allows access through the fence.

Gate frame: A gate frame is the the assembled structural components of a gate.

Gate latch: A gate latch is fitting to hold the gate in place when closed.

Gate opening: The gate opening is the clear distance between the gate posts.

Gate post: The gate post is the post to which a gate is attached by hinges and latches. It may also be used as a terminal post.

Gauge: – Gauge refers to the diameter of the coated wire used to make the fabric. The finer the wire, the higher the gauge. Also the thickness of the tubing or pipe used in the framework.

Good Neighbor Fence: Good neighbor fence is another name for a shadow box fence.

Gravel board: Positioned underneath your fence panels to protect against moisture, insect, and debris damage, gravel boards are an essential part to most garden fences.

Height: n chain link fence, the distance before stretching from the top edge of knuckle or twist to the bottom edge of the knuckle or twist of the fabric.

High-tensile wire: Wire fencing made of strong wires that run horizontally through insulators, attached to fence posts.

Hog ring: A pre-formed open wire clip designed to close up into a ring to secure chain link fabric to horizontal tension wire.

Horizontal fence: A horizontal fence is a type of fence design where the boards or pickets are placed horizontally rather than vertically.

Intermediate rail: Horizontal member of the framework running continuously at any point between the top and bottom of the fence (sometimes called middle rail).

Kickboard: A rot board, also called a kickboard, is a horizontal board installed along the bottom of the fence panel. Typically a 2×6 or 2×8 piece of wood, it runs along the base of the entire fence panel for a finished look and added protection.

Knotted: Mesh that is produced by knotting together steel wires that have been arranged vertically and horizontally.

Knuckle: The knuckle is the selvage obtained by interlocking adjacent pairs of wire ends and bending the wire back into a loop.

Lattice fencing: Lattice is fencing is fencing, usually cedar, constructed of prefabricated lattice panels.

Line post: A line post is any of the posts located between terminal or end posts to provide support for the fence.

Line post cap: A line post cap or top with a loop used to position the top rail or tension wire on top of the line posts. (Also called loop cap)

Line rail clamp: A lien rail clam is a two-piece clamp with carriage bolts and nuts designed for 180 degree horizontal rail connections to a line post.

Loop cap: A loop cap is a cap for a line post in chain link fence that has a loop through which to pass the top rail or tension wire.

Mesh: Mesh if fencing which results from the connection of vertical and horizontal wires. Depending on the connection method and diameter of the wires used, the tighter the mesh weave, the more resistant. In chain link fabric, the clear distance between parallel wires forming the diamond.

Middle rail: A middle rail in another name for an intermediate rail.

Offset hinge: An offset hinge is a swing gate hinge that permits the gate to swing 180 degrees from the closed to the open position.

Ornamental fencing: Ornamental fence is typically any fence that is made of, or imitates, a cast iron fence. Provides for traditional fencing needs with added aesthetic appeal.

Panel clamp: A panel clamp is a two-piece clamp with carriage bolt and nut designed to secure prefabricated panels together.

Perimeter fence: A perimeter fence is a fence line around the outer boundary of a piece of property.

Picket: A picket fence is a vertical fence board or element that attaches to the rails. Pickets can be made from any material but are most commonly used in wood, aluminum, iron and vinyl fences, and are usually evenly spaced.

Picket fence: A picket fence is a type of fence made up of vertical pickets, or boards, attached to horizontal rails that are then fastened to fence posts. Typically a picket fence will be 36 inches to 48 inches tall.

Polyvinyl chloride: Polyvinyl chloride, commonly referred to as PVC, is a synthetic plastic material that is widely used in the manufacturing of vinyl fences.

Pool code fence: Any fence that meets the local municipal requirements regarding pool fencing; i.e. height, space between pickets, anti-climb, direction of gates and height of the gate latch.

Post cap: A post cap is a fitting that covers the top of a fence post, usually to exclude water from entering the post, but also used as a decorative element in vinyl and cedar.

Post hinge: A post hinge is a fitting that attaches to the gate post, and functions with the frame hinge receptor, permitting the gate to swing.

Post spikes: Post spikes are metal brackets that set into the fence post or concrete footing to ensure the constructions firmly fixed in the desired place. It is also an excellent hardware to protect your construction from the damage of rust, corrosion and decay.

Post and rail: A post and rail fence is any fence made from horizontal rails fastened to vertical posts.

Post and wire: A post and wire fence is a lower cost alternative to a post and rail fence; when used for horses it should include a sight board.

Powder coating: Powder coating offers a great way to coat metal fencing accessories in pigment and protective polymers without toxic paint solvents. It offers extended durability, corrosion resistance, and an extensive range of color and finish combinations.

Pressure treated lumber: Pressure treated lumber is a type of wood that is treated with chemicals to increase its durability and resistance to decay, insects, and weathering.

Privacy fence: A privacy fence is a fence with close fitting vertical pickets that block views into a yard or area.

Privacy screen: A privacy screen is a type of material that is added to a chain link fence to enhance privacy and security. It is typically made from a mesh-like material, such as polyethylene or vinyl, that is attached to the fence fabric with zip ties or other fasteners.

Privacy slats: Privacy slats are narrow, vertical strips of material that are inserted into the links of a chain link fence to create a more private and secure outdoor space. They are typically made from materials such as polyethylene or aluminum, and can come in a range of colors and styles to match the aesthetics of the fence.

PVC: PVC is the abbreviation for Poly-vinyl chloride used to manufacture vinyl fencing.

Racked fence: A racked fence is a type of fence that is designed to follow the contour of a sloping or uneven landscape. The fence panels are manufactured with a specific angle, so they can be installed parallel to the ground while still maintaining a straight and level appearance.

Rail: A rail is a horizontal support element to which fence boards or pickets are attached. The distance between rails is known as rail spacing.

Rail end: A rail end is a cup-shaped fitting used with a brace band to connect the top rail or brace to a post.

Rail end band: Same as brace band.

Rail spacing: Rail spacing is the distance between the rails on a fence. In general, the more rails there are, the closer the spacing.

Raking: Raking is the installation of fence sections that allow the fence to follow the grade.

Rot board: A rot board is a horizontal board that is installed between the fence posts and the fence pickets to prevent rot and decay in wooden fences. It is typically made from pressure-treated lumber or other rot-resistant materials and is installed at the bottom of the fence line, just above ground level.

Round post and rail fence: A round post and rail fence is a type of fence design that consists of horizontal rails attached to round posts (instead of square posts), giving the fence a rustic, country-style appearance.

Section: A section is the run of fence between two posts.

Scalloped fence: A scalloped fence is a type of fence design where the tops of the fence pickets are cut in a concave or convex shape, giving the fence a wavy or curved appearance.

Selvage: Selvage is the edge finish on woven chain link fabric joining pairs of pickets. The selvage may be knuckled or twisted (barbed). Standard selvage is K&K when the fabric is under 72″, and K&B when the fabric is 72″ high or above.

Semi-private: A semi-private fence is a fence that provides a balance of privacy and airflow. Slight spacing between the pickets allows light and air to enter, while still offering just the right amount of privacy.

Shadow box fence: A shadow box fence is built with staggered rows of pickets attached to both sides of the fence rails. Each picket covers the gap between the pickets on the other side of the fence. The fence appears the same from both sides. Also know as a “good neighbor fence”.

Sight board: A sight board is the top board running between the posts on a fence constructed of posts and wire. A horse’s nearsightedness in combination with their size, startle reflex and tendency to run makes it imperative to install a ‘sight board’ so they don’t run into or through the wire fence.

Single swing gate: A single swing gate is any hinged gate that is built with only one leaf.

Sleeve, top rail: A sleeve for a top rail is a a fitting used to join two pieces of top rail together end to end, when a swaged top rail is not used.

Split Rail: – A split rail fence is a post and rail fence made from rough hewn wood, usually consisting of two or three horizontal rails that fit into notched posts.

Stair stepping: Stair stepping is a a method for installing fence on a steep grade, with uniform sections installed at different heights to create a stair-step appearance.

Stepped fence: – A stepped fence is a fence that is designed to follow the contour of sloping or uneven ground. The fence is constructed in sections that are progressively stepped up or down to match the slope of the ground.

Stretching: Stretching is the process of putting tension at the end of the fabric to make it hang uniformly and taught along the line of fence between terminal posts.

Swage: A swage is the formed end of a piece of top rail so that it will fit into and join another piece of top rail.

Tension band: A tension band is an offset strip of metal shaped to fit around the terminal post and used with a carriage bolt and nut to attach the tension bar to the post for a chain link fence.

Tension bar: The tension bar is used with tension bands or other post connectors to secure the fabric to a terminal post. The bar is slid down into the very last fabric lace where it is closest to the terminal post.

Tension wire: A tension wire is used along the top of a chain link fence in place of a top rail or along the bottom of a chain link fence for additional security. (Sometimes called coil spring wire, or coil wire)

Terminal post: The terminal post is the load-bearing post for a line of fencing. The terminal post can be a corner, end or gate post.

Tie: A tie is a wire, clip, or band used to attach the fabric to the top rail and line posts.

Titanium dioxide: Titanium dioxide is a white pigment that is often used as an additive in the manufacturing of vinyl fence products. It is added to the vinyl formulation to increase the durability and resistance to weathering and UV radiation.

Top rail: A top rail is the horizontal member of the framework running from terminal post to terminal post on top of the line posts.

Truss rod: A truss rod is a tension rod, used for bracing in gates and at terminal posts. May be threaded at one or both ends or contain a turnbuckle for adjusting tension.

Turnbuckle: A turnbuckle is a tightening device used with an adjusting nut and a truss rod.

Vinyl fence: Vinyl fence is a prefabricated fence made of PVC plastic. Vinyl fencing can imitate a variety of fence designs, including post & rail, picket, lattice, and privacy. It tends to be easy to clean, resists weathering and has low maintenance requirements.

Wire fencing: Wire fencing is fencing constructed of lines of wire pulled tight between fence posts. Most often used for agricultural fencing needs.

Wood fencing: Wood fencing is any fence made from wood materials. Requires a higher level of maintenance than other fencing, in the form of painting or staining, to combat weathering.

Woven wire: Woven wire is fencing made of smooth horizontal wire held together by vertical wires or “stays”. The horizontal spacing is closer toward the bottom and wider at the top. It is held in place with wood posts or metal T-posts.

Wrought iron: Wrought iron fencing made of solid wrought iron. More expensive than other fencing, but wrought iron fence is incredibly strong, long lasting and comes with the added options of ornamental design.

In conclusion, we have explored the most common terms and phrases used in relation to fences, including materials, styles, and construction methods. Any professional fence installer should be able to answer any further questions you have about specific terms. With this knowledge, we hope you can confidently navigate the world of fences and make informed decisions when it comes to selecting and installing a fence.

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