Panel fencing is probably the cheapest kind of fencing, but not necessarily the most cost effective. It is inherently flimsy and it is not advised to put this in areas susceptible to strong winds or gusts. Most of our customers when given the prices for both closeboard and panels, elect for closeboard.
Panel fencing is not really suitable for ground that has any significant slope because the fence will end up with a 'step' effect along the top and gaps underneath.
Most panel fences that you see (or have yourselves already) will have 75mm (3") posts. In our opinion it is a false economy to install 3" posts when a 4" post only costs a couple of quid more, but will last much, much longer. Depending on the moisture content of your soil, a 4" post should last 20+ years. By comparison, we are seeing 3" posts on relatively recently built estates in Trowbridge starting to fail after only 7 years.
Another option is to use concrete posts and gravel boards. On ground with any kind of slope this method is probably the best because a concrete gravel board can be partially buried on the upper part of the slope allowing the panel to be out of contact with the ground. This kind of fencing has its pros and cons which need to be taken into consideration. On the plus side, it is extremely easy to replace a single panel with no tools required. As the panel slots into grooves in the concrete posts, 2 people can easily just lift the old panel out and slot a new one in. On the negative side, because the panel is only secured in place by the grooves, high winds can cause the panel to bend, possibly snapping what are fairly flimsy top and bottom rails, causing the panel to 'pop' out. The worst case of this that we have seen was in Devizes a couple of years ago, when a lady lost 12 out of 14 panels during a storm, 2 of which also hit her car. This fence had only been installed 2 years earlier. There was nothing wrong with the construction, it was just a case of you get what you pay for. Another issue that causes irritation to some people is that even in gentle winds the panels tend to 'rattle' in the slots. This can be minimised by using small wedges, but these may need to be replaced regularly. Many people think that by using concrete posts, they will last a lot longer. This is not necessarily the case. It is hard to tell the quality of a concrete post. They all look very alike, but I have seen some fail inside the lifespan of a 4" timber post, usually caused by the reinforcing rods on the inside of the post rusting and then causing the concrete to 'blow'
If you do choose panel fencing from us we endeavour to use materials that will last the longest. Our panel fences are constructed from the following materials:
- 100mm (4") Posts (preferred) or 75mm (3") Posts- Concreted into the ground to a minimum depth of 600mm (2')
- 'Pressure treated' panels (come in 3',4', 5' and 6' heights) Drilled and screwed to posts. Panels bought from DIY stores will usually only be 'dip' treated.
- Post-caps - nailed to tops of posts to protect the end-grain from rain.
These fences start off looking like the picture above, but over time will begin to fade and go a silvery gray colour. It is easy to spray paint these fences in a wide variety of colours, but we would always recommend using an oil based product (best purchased from trade suppliers) as this will penetrate the wood much more effectively than a water based equivalent. The fence in the picture above was spray painted from new to match in with the customers existing fencing.