I'm planning on putting up a 6ft privacy fence for the first time. I've done quite a bit of research but I'm still rather new to it. I have a concept but it's quite minimal. What I'm looking to figure out is whether this design is sturdy and will withstand the test of time.

For materials, here's what I've decided to use:

For Posts: 4x4x8 treated pine (rated for ground contact)

For Boards: 2x4x8 treated pine (I'm on the fence with this one - pun intended) This is where most of my uncertainty lies. I've considered doing a couple of different combinations.

Combo1: 1x(2x6 kick-board), 2x(2x4 board)

Combo2: 3x(2x4 board)

Combo3: 1x(2x6 kick-board), 3x(2x4 board)

My biggest consideration for this is price though. I want quality but I don't want to over-engineer.

For Pickets: 6ft Cedar (from Menards or Lowes or ?)

Method: I'll be burying the 8ft posts about 2.5 feet down (below the frost line). I plan to line the hole bottoms with gravel and cement the posts in. I'm still uncertain on whether to bring the cement above ground or cover it up with dirt. The latter is certainly more appealing to the eye, but the first is more functional. Not sure which is better.

This is the design I had in mind, although I do have a few questions. I know that kick-boards are important, but wouldn't they also serve a structural purpose? If I did a kickboard in say, 4" or 6", couldn't I get away with only have 2 addition 2x4 boards in the middle and top of the posts? In this picture below, they have a kick-board in addition to three 2x4 boards. To me that seems excessive but I'm wondering.

So in terms of the general design, type of wood used and planned methods, is this a good design? With proper maintenance, I'd like this fence to last a minimum of 30 years. I think it should for what it is.


  • Your assertion that "kick boards are important" wasn't followed with any reasoning. Most picket fences don't have them. Why do you say so? At any rate, most 6' fences have three rails, which is generally adequate for typical pickets.
    – isherwood
    May 23, 2018 at 19:56
  • It's one of the weakest points of a privacy fence. It's a loose end that receives a lot of attention from weed eaters, dogs, etc. That's an excellent point though, I don't see kick boards very often. So is it critical that I have one myself?
    – hack3rfx
    May 23, 2018 at 19:58
  • Not for a privacy fence. If it's also a dog fence or a snow fence, maybe. It's subjective.
    – isherwood
    May 23, 2018 at 19:59
  • My primary reason for building a fence is for my dog. I just don't like chain link (personal preference). That's why I'm opting for this. The only other reason I was thinking a kick board would be nice is because I could get "ground-contact" boards and not have to worry about my pickets touching the ground, as they are not rated for ground contact.
    – hack3rfx
    May 23, 2018 at 20:00
  • Then do that. I'd go with three rails, but if you're concerned about mild sag, use four. Again, the question is subjective. Rarely is a wooden fence good for 30 years, though, unless you live in a desert. You'd need to use 6x6 posts to stave off ground-level rot a bit longer.
    – isherwood
    May 23, 2018 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


For 30 years, assuming concrete, I'd go with un-boxed metal u-channel posts. I'd put bevels on the rails. A 45 degree bevel on the top. It should slant away from the pickets to shed water and dirt away from the pickets. And a 15 degree drip-edge bevel on the bottom to keep the water from running back towards the pickets. I'd get full inch rough sawn air-dried pickets from a saw mill, not the 9/16" pickets from big boxes, though there is something to be said for more rails and thin pickets.

And since price/labor is a function of the number of pieces, I'd use (2) 2x6's for the rails instead of (3+) 2x4's.

  • What is the benefit of using rough sawn pickets?
    – hack3rfx
    May 23, 2018 at 21:17
  • These won't be rough sawn like store-bought. They'll simply not have been planed. Thicker wood. Fewer rails. Longer lasting in the weather.
    – April
    May 23, 2018 at 21:25

Here is a source of the U-channel metal Master Halco posts: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Master-Halco-7-ft-6-in-Postmaster-633663/202091158?cm_mmc=SEM%7cTHD%7cgoogle%7c&mid=s%7cdc_mtid_8903rn225192_pcrid_254340303794_pkw__pmt_b_product__slid_&gclid=CjwKCAjww6XXBRByEiwAM-ZUIN9Zb6cLwvakNSYoBbQ_M7aLamIWcO27Ujq27r_oXq1NH-b_c6vtHxoCdGMQAvD_BwE&dclid=CMey8IrJ5toCFUHCwAodMGoElA

These posts are not cheap and must be boxed in for aesthetics. Check details of attachment of rails to the Master--enables clever attachment of rails to the posts different from what I imagined. These would be boxed in, so extra work and expense there.

  • I really like these but they're not within 100 miles of my location and HD says they won't ship them to my location...bummer. I think these are the best alternatives to standard wood posts.
    – hack3rfx
    May 23, 2018 at 22:04
  • Where is your location? It is hard to believe that in today's USA one could not get something shipped. I believe you could arrange common carrier shipment from the mfgr or a regional supplier. May 24, 2018 at 0:23
  • Mid Missouri. You're probably right. I only glanced at the HD site.
    – hack3rfx
    May 24, 2018 at 0:25
  • You could rent a U-Haul truck and go pick it up yourself from 100 mi away. May 24, 2018 at 0:30

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