What the heck is a shadow box fence?
Since you are wondering what a shadow box fence is, I should point out the most obvious one first. It has nothing to do with a box. A shadow box fence is actually a semi-private fence that is made by placing standard privacy fence posts on both sides of the fence with spaces between each post. Since there is a board between the posts on the outside of the fence and the posts on the inside of the fence, this causes a shadow effect.
Shadow box fences are usually 6 or 8 feet high, but they are not completely private. When you look directly at them, you can’t see what’s on the other side. But, when you look at one from an angle, you can see right through it. The view is obstructed, but you can see through them well enough to know what’s going on on the other side. This is because they are built with the posts spaced about 2 inches apart on each side of the fence. The spaces are lined up with the picket on the opposite side so you can’t see through the fence looking straight at it.
These fences are not completely private, but they do have some advantages over basic privacy fences that have stakes attached to each other. The most obvious advantage is that they are more elegant than a basic privacy fence and will set your fence apart from that of your neighbors. Basic privacy fences have a pretty side, and a shade box looks good from the inside or outside of the fence. They also hold up better to wind than your average privacy fence. Since they are not completely solid, the wind can pass through them without putting as much pressure on the fence. Standard privacy fences are the first to go during a big storm.
They also have some disadvantages. As mentioned above, they are not completely private, but most wooden privacy fences are not. Most people don’t realize that treated lumber generally shrinks when it has time to dry. This means that even if your fence doesn’t have gaps between posts when it’s first built, it probably will after a bit of time. You’ll still be able to see a lot more of the action on the other side of your shadow box fence than with a basic privacy fence. For this reason, you don’t usually see them much in neighborhoods where the houses are very close together. The other disadvantage is the price. The shadow box requires a considerable amount of additional material and also requires more labor to build. This will end up costing you more to have one installed.
In the end, you have to weigh the pros and cons when determining if this type of fence is right for you. Is privacy more important or is curb appeal more important? Also, is a higher initial cost more important than the risk of your fence collapsing more easily in high winds? Now that you know what a shadow box fence is, you should consider it if you plan to build a fence of your own.