Closeboard fencing remains a popular way to build a solid boundary fence that will stand the test of time. Sometimes referred to as close board fencing, ship lap or featherboard, closeboard wooden fencing is constructed from overlapping vertical timber boards which are nailed to horizontal rails running between fence posts.
You can buy pre-constructed Closeboard Fence Panels or Lap Fence Panels (where the boards run horizontally rather than vertically), but true closeboard fencing is constructed on site with individual components.
What are the advantages of closeboard fencing compared to fence panels?
It might seem easier and quicker to use pre-constructed fence panels, but closeboard fencing has several advantages when compared to panels:
- Strength and durability - because of its individually fixed componentry and pressure treated boards, closeboard fencing provides a highly durable, rigid structure
- Maintenance - any wear and tear can be repaired by replacing individual components, boards or rails, rather than a complete fence panel
- Versatility - closeboard is ideal for constructing a fence on sloping or uneven ground because gravel boards and rails can be fixed at an angle and then the individual boards can follow this level. The spacing of fence posts is also not limited to the width of a fence panel
- Security - as its name implies, closeboard is a completely solid fence without gaps, important for boundaries that require additional security or privacy
What are the key components for closeboard fencing?
Feather edge boards - these feathered fence boards, thinner at one side to allow them to overlap, form the main structure of the fence
Arris rails - rails with a triangular cross section that run horizontally between the fence posts. Available with a tapered end to fit into a morticed fence post, or without to attach to a notched post. When the boards are attached to the rail they sit between the fence posts.
Cant rails - an alternative to arris rails, a rectangular rail with an angled top (to allow rainwater runoff) that is nailed to the front of the post, allowing a continuous row of boards to sit in front of the posts
Centre stumps - short pieces of timber mounted under the bottom rail to increase rigidity
Fence posts and gravel boards - closeboard fencing can be erected using timber, concrete or steel fence posts and gravel boards, but the type of post will vary depending on which rail is being used.
If using arris rails you will need notched or morticed posts to accommodate the rails. When using concrete or steel posts you will need morticed posts, regardless of the rails being used
Counter rails and capping rails - these lengths of timber can be added to the top of a closeboard fence to provide a neat, decorative finish and to deflect rainwater
Cleats - small pieces of timber that are attached to the base of the fence post, allowing the gravel board to be fixed between the posts. Alternatively, if using with concrete posts, galvanised metal clips that slot into the base of the post providing a surface to fix the gravel board
How to install closeboard fencing
Closeboard fencing is a simple construction of posts, rails, gravel boards and featheredge boards. Posts should be a minimum of 100x100mm section and concreted into the ground at a depth of approximately 600mm (for an 1800mm or 6' fence). The distance between the post centres should ideally not exceed 3m (10ft).
Rails are then fixed horizontally either between or across the face of the posts; usually two rails are needed on 1.2m (4ft) high fences and below, with three rails used on higher boundaries.
The boards are then individually nailed to the front of the rails, with the thicker side of the board overlapping the thinner side of the next board.
Read our article here for more detail on how to erect closeboard fencing.
Should I use arris rails or cant rails?
The choice really depends on what finish you want for the fence i.e. boards fitted between the posts, or continuous boards in front of the posts. In general an arris rail is thought to be stronger as it is fitted into the fence post, although an arris rail with a tapered end can eventually fail at the thinner ends.
An advantage of cant rails is that you do not need to use notched or morticed posts, as the cant rails are simply nailed to the front of the post. However, some say that this makes cant rails inherently weaker.
So, in essence it really is a question of personal choice, or which componentry is readily available.
Ask the fencing experts
For further advice about your fencing project don’t hesitate to speak to our fencing experts at your local AVS Fencing & Landscaping Supplies branch. Our ranges of closeboard fencing componentry are all available either to click and collect from your local AVS Branch or for home delivery within our AVS Branch delivery area.