Picket fences symbolize the American dream, that of your own little piece of land marked off by a neat row of fencing more ornamental than functional. They're easy to build, erect and repaint, and make your house look warm and inviting if kept clean and in good repair. You can buy the parts separately or in preassembled sections at any home and garden supply store.
Pickets are the individual planks that make up the body of the fence. The pickets for a single fence may be all he same height or they may vary in height to make a rounded scoop shape between two posts, with the tallest pickets at the ends and the shortest in the center. Typical even pickets are usually about 4 feet high and 2 inches wide. The pickets consist of a plank with some detailing at the top. Top detailing may be rounded, pointed or notched at the sides, or have a fancier shape that comes to a rounded edge or a point. The detailing is strictly decorative and has little to do with the function of the fence.
Two 2 by 4 crosspieces, or rails, are located near the top and bottom of each section of picket fencing, and serve to anchor the pickets, provide stability and attach the fence section to the support posts. Pickets are attached evenly from one end of the crosspieces to the other with a few inches left for attachment to the posts.
To seat the fence properly, 4 by 4 support posts must be attached at regular intervals, usually 4 to 6 feet apart. These square, sturdy posts are sunk into the ground and usually anchored with concrete. Fence sections are attached to the support posts via slots drilled into the post.
Support posts are often topped by decorative finials that screw into the top of the post and complement the design. These are strictly aesthetic and designed to enhance the overall appearance of the fence.
Picket fence gates are simply short sections of fence with hinges on one side and a latch on the other to keep the gate closed.
- Photo Credit picket fence detail image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com
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