NEW wood fence.......what is normal spacing between planks NON board on board

#1
I recently had a new cedar wood fence installed. It is a non board-on-board. Much to my surprise, it seems as though the "spacing of the new fence planks" actually allow for more outside visible light to seep through than the old 10 year old fence did. We have gaps between the new planks that range from 1/8th to 1/4 of an inch.

Turns out the individual lied about his experience and I was his guinea pig/first experiment......great. Despite a handful of other flaws I had to correct over the past two days......I did find a "how to reply" on line that suggested that you need to allow for 1/8th to 1/4 gaps between the fence planks to allow for swelling when building the fence. Makes sense.....but how does one (know) what is too much OR if these measurements/gaps are correct I read about in one on line reading I found?

I am interested to know from anyone who is on FOL that has direct industry knowledge if this is correct OR incorrect. I was under the impression (perhaps incorrect now I hope) that the planks needed to be set as tightly as possible (one against another) to minimize any gaps not the other way around!

If anyone knows I would appreciate the feedback as fence building is certainly not my forte of work experience. IF these gaps are un-likely to close up with some period of time.......then best to know now so I may go board on board before staining. Last question........what is the desired time frame to wait before staining both the planks and the pressure treated "rails"/"topper"/"foot boards"? I read that you should wait at least.......4 weeks in one post re staining any "pressure treated wood" ? Seems excessive but what do I know about fence building 101........not much that I do know!!

Thanks for any supported replies!

David
 

Sticky Davis

Double Platinum
#2
Not a professional here - but I built a few fences with my dad when we were partners 3 different times in homebuilding firms.

Several differing philosphies. I prefer board-on-board to begin with - but if you're going with "non b-o-b", butt the pickets tightly against each other. They'll warp some anyway - so gaps will begin to appear within months. So I agree with you David - to minimize those gaps and to increase privacy, place the boards with no gaps at all. Not all pickets are straight, but you try anyway.

Some fence builders (possibly like yours David) believe in room for expansion from humidity/warpage, With looser spacing like they did, you'll have slightly less picket splitting/cracking and less "nail pops" to repair. And if some wind can blow through the spacing between pickets, you'll have a slight decrease in the fence ever being blown over. Plus you can more easily spray stain between pickets. So there are a few advantages in what he did.

For best stain coverage, this is why the majority of the fence builders pre-stain the fence now before applying the pickets. I'm still "old school" and prefer to stain around the 4 week mark to allow the fence to acclimate and dry out a bit first - it embraces the stain better and the coat will last longer. But I'm in the minority here on that issue. Also screws are better than nails - you won't have "nail pops" to hammer back in as your fence acclimates and warps.

And if you don't like the current gaps David, negotiate with your fence guy now. Since you're dissatisfied - maybe you should have him rebuild it now as a board-on-board - and you shell out the money to buy the extra pickets but see if he'll donate the day's worth of labor in return to as his good reference?
 
#3
THe planks need to sit outside for a while and get dried out before install on fence. The guy probably purchased the planks from inside of Home Depot/'Lowes.
 
#4
Thanks re both replies.........

1. He did buy planks at Lowes and or Home Depot. I am debating adding the additional planks thus minimizing any future concerns. Probably the best insurance against additional gap related issues. Interested to hear additional opinions re the gap situation as one on line resource did say you need to leave gaps between 1/8th inch to 1/4 which I have. NOT because he meant to I am sure based on the multiple additional issues I had to resolve minus this possible issue. Great to find out after the fact the realtor referral only had heard of his name!
 

Rebel

Diamond Member
#5
If we lived in a really wet climate, I'd worry about leaving a gap. Fact is its hot here. The pickets are going to dryout and shrink. You're better off having them butted together at first. Within a year you'll have some small gaps, within five you'll probably be able to stick a finger through in some places.

ETA: Before I replaced my fence with BOB I had a normal builder grade fence. In replacing pickets over the years I noticed a good quality cedar shrank less than the cheap pine ones.
 
#6
Thanks..........looks like going B-O-B

Not to be confused with Freebirds........big-ol-burrito............ I am of the same mind set knowing a few things about wood on the inside of homes! ANY suggestions on where to buy outside of Lowes/HD?? After viewing neighbors fences that were old non BOB........they do have slightly wider gaps than mine but not by much, much my initial concerns...........think I know what my helpers from yesterday and I will be doing today!
 
#7
fence

We lost our fence a few years ago and my husband put in a new fence to save on some cost, we had a huge yard almost half acre. We bought supplies from Collin County Fence Supply, east of 75/380. Their priceing and quality was so much better that home depot. We ended up putting in a electric gate also so had them weld a gate and got all cedar pickets etc from them. Not sure how much you need but I would give them a call. I remember they had a few different cedar pickets to pick from and tons of others. For staining we had several companies stop by and knock on our door with quotes which were outrageous, we ended up finding a place to buy "Wood Defender" stain that all these professionals were using. I can't remember what it was called, will have to ask my husband but was off 35 in Carrollton/Dallas area. We ended up needing 4-5 gallon barrels for inside/ouside of ours. My husband used a stain sprayer from Lowes to apply it. I remember he said it was the best stain compared to one we used in the past, As soon as you applied it it soaked right in. It's probably been 4 years now and still looks great, with that 1 application.It was a little more expensive but worth it.
 

planomateo

Platinum Member
#9
We lost our fence a few years ago and my husband put in a new fence to save on some cost, we had a huge yard almost half acre. We bought supplies from Collin County Fence Supply, east of 75/380. Their priceing and quality was so much better that home depot. We ended up putting in a electric gate also so had them weld a gate and got all cedar pickets etc from them. Not sure how much you need but I would give them a call. I remember they had a few different cedar pickets to pick from and tons of others. For staining we had several companies stop by and knock on our door with quotes which were outrageous, we ended up finding a place to buy "Wood Defender" stain that all these professionals were using. I can't remember what it was called, will have to ask my husband but was off 35 in Carrollton/Dallas area. We ended up needing 4-5 gallon barrels for inside/ouside of ours. My husband used a stain sprayer from Lowes to apply it. I remember he said it was the best stain compared to one we used in the past, As soon as you applied it it soaked right in. It's probably been 4 years now and still looks great, with that 1 application.It was a little more expensive but worth it.
Interesting, I just priced them a few months ago, they told me on the phone that they couldn't touch HDs price. With HD, you buy in bulk, you get a better price.

Maybe 4 years ago they could compete with a big chain on prices.
 
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angelaN

Platinum Member
#11
Rebel is right on. We butted ours and now we have gaps - some as large as 1/4 inch. Our fence has now been up for 2-3 years and we had to restain it this year. We used cedar.
 
#12
My fence is non-BOB, was new as of last yr, and now looks like sh*t. I don't know what company did it, bc the previous homeowner hired them, but the boards did warp a little and the idiot installing used nails instead of screws, so I'm thinking he didn't care or didn't know what he was doing. The gap drives me crazy, bc you can actually see in our backyard, which defeats the purpose of a privacy fence. So much for sunbathing naked.
 

rbrodner

Diamond Member
#13
My fence is non-BOB, was new as of last yr, and now looks like sh*t. I don't know what company did it, bc the previous homeowner hired them, but the boards did warp a little and the idiot installing used nails instead of screws, so I'm thinking he didn't care or didn't know what he was doing. The gap drives me crazy, bc you can actually see in our backyard, which defeats the purpose of a privacy fence. So much for sunbathing naked.
90%+ of the fence builders out there use nails.
 

rbrodner

Diamond Member
#15
I actually found several companies that state on their website they use screws, not nails. Which is who I will be using when I get this one replaced.
The ones that do are going to use that as a selling point. It's still a relatively small number that use screws vs. nails.
 
#16
I have been a general contractor for 27 years.
It is never a good idea to butt wood against wood that will be exposed to the elements.
Simple reason, Expansion and contraction.
The deck on your roof is required by code to have spacers installed between sheets for the same reason.

Another part of the reasoning behind placing a gap between boards is to allow for leveling (plumb) of the boards because fence boards are never straight.
If you butt them together and one board gets out of plumb than all of the boards will be out.
Most installers use a nail for spacing.
1/8" to 1/4" is well within tolerance.

If using nails on a fence is unacceptable, you might want to vacate your house ASAP, it's framed up using nails and nothing else.
 

rbrodner

Diamond Member
#17
If using nails on a fence is unacceptable, you might want to vacate your house ASAP, it's framed up using nails and nothing else.
The framing in my house isn't directly exposed to precipitation, nor is it a big long flap directly exposed to our north Texas winds...
 
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#18
All good info thanks

Outside of the missing nails in fence planks over 30% of the fence and multiple exposed nail heads when he got rushed for time and a few uneven rails coupled with missing foot boards so the dog could get out..........and these gaps its just great! B.O.B. will get rid of this issue as one poster said gaps drive him nuts.....me too. They are larger than I had before and that is comparing a 12 year old fence to.......a brand new fence. I think that the easiest solution outside of already repairing the other sloppy work is to go buy the additional planks and go BOB. Otherwise like one poster said the gaps drive him nuts much as they are me now! Although I think mine were NOT intentionally set in place, just sloppy work like the majority of the project was............and to think that I have not even done the "FOL roast a contractor" on him yet!! He is well deserving of such but with three neighbors out money right now trying to force refunds etc........not yet.
 
#19
May depend upon the width of the boards.

The TX heat will most assuredly shrink the boards unless you let them dry out before installing.

All Non Board fences will show gaps....suggestion....If they are wide boards (like 6 inches) how about purchasing some 1 x 4 cedar boards and splitting them (or 1 x 2s) and nailing/screwing them over each gap.
 
#20
WELL as of yesterday BOB now to the contractor..........

ONLY way to fix this mess was to go BOB. That was just an issue...... THIS guy left me with a mess and was over paid to what he agreed to do all work by $700 and will not refund. NOR has he refunded my two other neighbors $1500 deposit and $350+ deposit as they want nothing to do with him. The exchange of text messages (and what he said) would send some people on here running/crying!

SO bad the experienece I (we/neighbors) met with the head of building inspection for Frisco yesterday to show him video of my fence prior to three days of repairs..........plus to review the stellar text messages to me as well as those sent to my neighbor re her $1500 deposit with nothing to show for it.

Have you ever dealt with a contractor who simply put is IN capable of accepting responsibility for ANY flaws in their work and will NOT rectify the situation as if it does not even exist! Then trys to make it out as if you are the problem! I am NOT talking about being "that home owner" who is a PITA that always has an issue with any service they get done. Being in a similiar line of work with wood floors and on our HOA Board....MY tolerance for being patient is above most I think giving every benefit of the doubt to any contractor until they simply shoot off their own foot.

Soon I will disclose who this company (pick up with a tailgate wrap) is. In all seriousness...........he is a SCAM and ripped off three of us so far while taking deposit money to "lock us in" then not following ONE time line he said he would follow. He did HORRIBLE work on my fence thus creating major issues for me then the text that followed..............worst ever. F.....yous and everything you can think of (in text to me) coupled with lies and even trying to set my two neighbors up (who were suckered by him to pay up) against me to cover up the real issues with his work that they all have seen for themselves much why backing out from him! Yet he has tried to pretend as if there are no issues at all! I am hoping that the city of Frisco will now never grant him an approved work permit status (after reviewing the facts) based on our 3 experiences we shared with the Building Inspector Wed.

WE will most likely be suing him in small claims as he is too arrogant and naive to accept responsibility for the MESS he made. Unwilling to correct any of it and apparantly "too smart" (not) to realize that a $600 requested refund from the $2800 he was paid on a project he agreed to do for $2100 including staining (which we will not allow him to begin to do now)......is a gift for him vs. what's to come (for him) as he has refused to refund any portion of our money .......to any of us thus far. Including not returning my neighbors deposits either ( including $1500 from a single mom to him) and of course no supplies dropped off either! TO think that I offered to over pay him by $700 (and did) as he apparently under bid our work as he did the neighbors as he either had no clue how to cost out the work he bid OR simply bid low to entice people to pay up deposits! Deposit checks that he went to the bank within one hour of receiving each of our checks and cashed them all! NOW we all get it! This guy even had the nerve to threaten me that he was going to go make some erroneous post re my wood floor business......(although never doing work for him!) after I told him yesterday that we were involving the City of Frisco Building Inspector/Code Enforcement re HIS actions/lack of in resolving all issues with all neighbors now!

As President of our 600 home HOA and as a contractor myself.........I have never ever come across a contractor experienece like this. Shame on me for not conduting more due diligence....past hearing that he was a referral from a KW realtor.

This is truly one guy/contractor people should run from and I would never put it in writing on here if I could not strongly support every claim about this clown I have. HIS problems with us just starting but what a waste of our time..........

Thanks for the input re the PLANKS..........THAT problem resolved. However, it stinks to have had to lay the 4 inch planks over the gaps between my 6 inch boards NOW I have a 4 inch looking BOB on the outside and straight NON BOB 6 inch on the inside!! NO light coming through now!!
 
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