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Anatomy of a Fence

Updated: Jun 5

Have you ever spoken with a contractor and they started calling the "doo-hickey" and "thing-a-ma-bob" by their actual names leaving you confused? We strive to make sure our customers know what we are talking about when we give an estimate. This blog post will lay out the fencing terminology to help you better understand the construction and parts of a couple types of fences.

Anatomy of Chain Link Fences

Chain Link Fences

Chain link fences are our most installed fence style. They come in galvanized (traditional silver) or vinyl-coated (black, green, brown). The construction of the fences is almost identical.


The frame of a chain link fence consists of line posts placed every ten feet, terminals at corners or as gate posts, and top rail that spans the length of the fence across the top. The line posts are topped with a loop cap that fits over the line post and has a ring that encompasses the top rail to hold it in place. Top rail is fitted at the ends using a rail end that is braced to the terminal. Each terminal has a terminal cap that covers the opening on top of the post. All of the line posts and terminals are


The wire, or chain link, is stretched across the outside of the line posts and attached to the terminals using a tension bar and tension bands. The tension bar is a vertical piece that is inserted into the wire so that tension can be applied evenly. Tension bands fasten around the terminal and tension bar to hold the wire tight. The wire is attached to the top rail and line posts using aluminum ties.

On vinyl-coated chain link fences, there is tension wire, a cable of wire that is tightly strung between terminals and fastened to the wire at the bottom using hog rings to provide more support. Tension wire is available upon request for galvanized chain link.

Anatomy of Wood Fences

Wood Fences

If you are looking for privacy, wood fences are your best option. Wood fences are structurally sound and can provide privacy and decoration to your property. There are wood picket fences, wood privacy, decorative wood privacy, and shadow box fences.


All wood fences are framed with pressure-treated 4x4 posts every eight feet. Corner posts and gate posts are also constructed of 4x4 posts, or 6x6 posts if they are highly weight-bearing. Each post is concreted in the ground. There are pressure-treated 2x4 runners attached to the post and staggered every eight feet. For more information about our installation of Conyers Fence's runners, check out our blog on our Staggered Design. There are options for decorative posts, such as the French Gothic post pictured above.

Face Boards

The face boards of a fence are where the differences come in. All face boards are made of 1x wood and are either pressure treated or made of cedar boards.

Picket Fences

Our picket fences are either 4' or 5' tall. They are made out of 1x4 face boards and typically have a 2" spacing. There are 2 runners on picket fences instead of the 3 that come standard on our privacy fences. Pickets can be cut as dogearred (standard), gothic, Virginia or French Gothic.

Wood Privacy Fences

Wood privacy fences are 6' tall. The face boards are made from 1x6 boards and are butted up to each other to give full privacy. They can be cut as dogearred (standard), gothic, Virginia or French Gothic. There is also an option to arch your wood privacy by cutting the tops of the boards into an arch that either curves positively or negatively.

Shadowbox Fences

The shadowbox effect is created by spacing the 1x6 face boards every few inches on either side of the runners. The face boards on the front are staggered from the ones on the back creating depth and decoration while still providing privacy.

Anatomy of Ornamental Fences

Ornamental Fences

Ornamental fences are constructed from either aluminum or steel material. There are a variety of design options for both. There are flat top fences or spear top fences, and the number of horizontal rails can come in either 2-, 3-, or 4-rail. All of the above pictures are 3-rail fences.


The framework of an ornamental fence consists of line posts, corner posts, and gate posts. Each post is concreted in the ground and has a cop to cover the openings on the top of each post.


A panel is an 8'-long section of the fence. Panels are constructed of horizontal rails that hold each vertical picket in place. Each post has holes in the sides in which the rails of the panels are inserted and fastened. The panels are able to be racked, or installed at an angle, to match the slope of the ground.

We hope that you found this article helpful in understanding fencing terminology. If you have questions about your fence, we would be happy to answer them.

Give us a call today!



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