Fencing Terms Explained

Fencing terms can be baffling, especially if you're about to put up a fence for the first time, it’s easy to become confused by the technical phrases you’ll encounter. This handy glossary of the most popular terms will help you to identify which components you’ll need to see your project through.

  • Arris Rail – one of the most common of fencing terms is a wooden beam with a triangular cross-section, used in the construction of feather edge or closeboard fencing. The rail acts as the connection between the fence posts and the individual boards of the fence. The fence boards are nailed to one flat edge of the arris rail, which in turn is fastened to a fence post at each end. Mortised arris rails and fence posts are available for this purpose, or use plain-ended rails and brackets for added strength.
  • Cant Rail – an alternative to the Arris rail, also used in the construction of closeboard fencing. While they don’t offer quite the same strength that the Arris rail does, they are usually selected for ease of use: the Cant rail can be nailed directly into the supporting fence posts as well as the individual boards.
  • Closeboard fencing – sturdy timber fencing constructed from individual boards, ‘closeboard’ is one of those fencing terms you’ll hear again and again. As the name suggests, there are no gaps in closeboard fencing, making it a perfect choice for privacy in a rear garden.
  • Feather edge – timber boards used in the construction of closeboard fencing. Available either individually or in ready-made panels of various widths, for ease of use.
  • Fence Posts – an essential component of any fence. Available in wood, concrete or metal, it is important to select posts of the appropriate material for your fence contstruction. Wooden posts are suitable for timber fences, and may be treated for protection against moisture in the soil. Concrete posts are available for timber and chain-link fencing, and metal fence posts are suitable for chain-link fencing.
  • Finial – probably one of the more unfamiliar fencing terms, this simply refers to a decorative addition to the post cap. A finial can be fixed directly on to the cap, and is used to add a little extra elegance or interest to your finished fence.
  • Gravel Boards – used underneath wooden fences to protect the timber from rot and damp, and to assist with ground level problems. Gravel boards can be used to add additional height to a fence, and they also give a fence a sturdy and professionally-built appearance. Gravel boards are available in treated wood or in concrete for extra protection.
  • Lap Panel – screen fencing panel used mainly in rear gardens. One of those fencing terms which crop up frequently, lap panels are constructed from thin sheets of timber attached horizontally with a slight overlap for strength – hence the name. While not as sturdy or durable as closeboard, lap panel fencing is a cost effective choice.

  • Post Cap – a wooden or metal addition to give your fence a ‘finished’ look. Available in metal or treated wood to protect the timber of your post.
  • Post Spike – a quick and easy way to attach fence posts into the ground. Metal post spikes are screwed straight into the ground, and the posts slot straight into the top – saving you the precious time and elbow grease of digging holes and setting your posts in concrete.
  • Other fencing terms you’re not sure about? Speak to AVS for free professional advice – we’re always happy to give you the benefit of our twenty years’ worth of experience.


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