Another DIY Modern Fence Project
Since the day we purchased our home, the two fences that divided our driveway and rear alley from the backyard drove me nuts. They were both the type of pre-built, cheap fence panels you can purchase at a big-box store (nothing wrong with that) and ours were poorly installed and never painted/protected. The end result were fences that were rotten, warped, and hanging off the hinges.
In typical obsessive, control-issue fashion, I wanted to design and build them myself, and I’ve always LOVED the modern horizontal designs. Finally, I wanted them to complement the pool security fence, so off to the internet I went in search for inspiration. Once we found similar designs that we liked, I went to work measuring and working it up in Adobe Illustrator, right down to the pica.
First was removing the old fence, which was incredibly easy considering how rotten everything was. And I immediately ran into an issue.
Under a thin layer of topsoil, I found what used to be the old concrete border that divided the backyard from the driveway. The previous owner chipped away a chunk of it and cemented their fence post, which had left a nice 4” square hole right where I wanted to put MY fence post. So instead of getting right to digging a post-hole and setting a new post, I spent three hours with my hammer drill trying to break through two different layers of concrete.
Eventually, my effort and the power-tool won and I managed to chip away a large enough portion of old concrete to set my new post. I also set the two side pieces by bolting them to the brick walls on either side.
I then went to work on mounting the horizontal pieces. As I did with the pool fence, I actually water-sealed before I mounted each piece so I was sure all edges and ends were sealed. I wanted a ½” space between each board, which was easily handled by using a piece of the aluminum tubing from the pool fence project. I ensured the bottom board was perfectly level, and then used the tubing to keep the spacing perfect while I added each additional board. I wanted both sides (backyard and driveway) to look the same, so in order to ensure privacy, I offset one side by 3”. This still gives the fence a lighter feeling but keeps the backyard private.
As with the pool fence, building the gate without a perfectly level surface was a challenge, but it came out perfectly. I used a gate anti-sag kit that is hidden inside the fence in case I need to use it. The turnbuckle is fairly easy to access through the slats if the gate starts to sag.
I then added a flat piece along the top of the fence to finish it off, and added an 8” brushed metal cabinet handle on either side. A typical gate latch keeps it closed, with a hole drilled through the fence (finished with a short length of the same aluminum tubing) for a simple cable-pull.
Hinges for both fences are heavy duty brushed metal interior door hinges. I just trimmed the wood slats slightly and inset the hinges so the gates would sit flush. Because of the amount of wood, these gates ARE fairly heavy and I didn’t want the hinges stripping out, so I actually drilled all the way through the posts and the gate and used long bolts and large washers to ensure they’ll be nice and stable for years to come.
We’re happy with the final result!
The alleyway fence was much the same. We call it an alley but it’s really just a 10′ easement for the neighborhood power lines. It’s filled with grass and is never used. Despite that, we did want to put in a wide gate in case we ever needed it.
The only challenge here was that I had to add a row of bricks to bring the brick patio up to the same level. The old owner just gave up after putting in three bricks, leaving an uneven area. Thankfully, we have a pile of original bricks that were never used for the patio that I could pull from. They’re the exact same size and have the same aging as the patio bricks.
The alleyway fence is single-sided (kinda). I didn’t want to waste wood making this fence double-sided as it’s rarely used and only our backyard neighbors see it (and they’re never outside, anyway). But, I didn’t want our neighbors to be able to see through the ½” spaces so instead of using full-width pieces, I use 3” strips that JUST covered up the spaces on our side. A beautiful unintended consequence of this is the morning sun shines through and makes the fence “glow” quite nicely.
Next up (someday!) … putting in a matching fence around our loud, eye-sore pool pump system.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions!