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Split Rail Fences

The basics of split rail fences

If you’ve ever taken a Sunday drive through the countryside, you likely passed farmsteads or rural homes outlined with split rail fences. Perhaps you live at a place like that and know all about this classic fence style. Split rail fences have been a rugged standby for hundreds of years and still lend an inviting look to a property.

This endearing fence style is used for similar reasons as other fencing, most commonly as delineating a property line or separating sections within larger acreage. Split rail looks great and doesn’t block your view; however, it also does not offer any privacy if that is a concern. This fence style is often used to enclose horses and other large livestock but won’t work to contain your little terrier unless you include an additional barrier. Split rail fences are great for outlining a garden area or incorporating just a few sections as accent landscaping.

Split rail styles

The most common split rail fence style is made of wooden posts linked with two or three rails. The posts are not typically capped in any way but some people choose rounded posts and “cleaner” looking rails. Another popular style is the crossbuck, achieved by crossing the rails in an “X” shape between the top and bottom rails. For a bit more privacy and containment, you can also forego the posts, stack the rails on top of one another, and run sections in a zigzag layout.

What is the best material for split rail fences?

Traditional split rail fences are made of wood; generally cedar, oak, or pine. Once a fence is completed, you can choose to leave the wood to weather naturally and retain true to its roots or seal it with stain. The former is a popular option with homeowners as split rail fences look great after braving the elements for a few years.

Looking for a more rustic look? Use rough-hewn posts and rails, or even logs with their bark still intact for that cabin the woods feel.

Vinyl is another material choice and while purists generally steer clear, vinyl is readily available and a good choice if you’re looking for a more modern look. Vinyl is nearly as sturdy as wood and the big draw of course is it is maintenance-free. Keep in mind, however, that the pre-fabricated panels will not work well on property with significant topographical changes.

Gates look great

Contrary to some people’s belief, building in a gate to a split rail fence is not difficult at all. Gates can be installed anywhere along the fence and add another ruggedly elegant look. You can even use a different material and add old-style hinges to really set off the style and your individual tastes. Metal or wrought iron gates, for example, are popular choices for this longstanding fencing tradition, and you don’t need a farm to have a split rail fence. They look great in town as well.

For more information on using split rail fences in your landscaping, contact the All Around Fence team at (443) 838-9374 or

All Around Fence serves the Maryland region with top quality fence installation and fencing products.

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