At first glance, a split rail fence couldn’t be simpler. You have some vertical fence posts, and the horizontal rails that go between them. But when you start to design a fence, you realize many subtle choices add up to the total effect of a finished fence. In this case, we’re talking about where you attach the rails relative to the posts.
Split Rail History
But first, a little history of this classic American fence style. Since they require lots of timber, split rail fences were usually built where trees were abundant. They were also called worm, snake or zigzag fences, since they could be built in a meandering style around the edges of property. Split rail fences were popular in frontier areas because they required few tools for assembly, could be installed on ground too rocky for deep fence post digging, and didn’t strictly require nails or hardware. And when times got tough, they served as firewood. Both the Union and Confederate armies turned split rail fences into fires during the Civil War.
Okay, back to attaching rails and posts. The most common way is to make holes in the posts, then insert the rails so they go through the posts. But just like belly buttons, split rail fences can also be innies or outies. The rails can be on the outside, public-facing side of the fence, or on the inside.
Many people find the rail side of a fence more aesthetically pleasing. So if you want happy neighbors and maximum curb appeal, consider putting the rails on the outside and charming the general public.
However, most horse owners agree that the rails should be on the inside, that is, the horse side. If Nelly runs amok, she’s safer running into a rail than a post. This also makes the fence stronger if your horse is a leaner.
We’re Here to Help
Can’t decide which looks better? No problem. The Buzz design team is here to help. Give us a call today and we’ll discuss your fence needs.