How To Build a Horizontal Slat Fence?

Build a Horizontal Slat Fence
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This blog is exclusively about the horizontal slat fence and everything you need to know about it. We will cover a step-by-step guide on how to build a horizontal slat fence, a list of required tools, and the FAQ section at the end will answer any remaining queries.

Horizontal slatted fence design is becoming more and more popular these days. Many homeowners prefer this over the traditional pattern. Its easy installation makes it a great DIY project.

What is A Horizontal Slat Fence?

A horizontal slat fence is one that is built by placing the wood planks in a horizontal fashion, as against the traditional vertical arrangement. There is some gap between each plank to leave room for visibility. One can use wood planks or pickets of the same size. Apart from wood, several other materials like painted metal slates, galvanized metal slates, composite planks, or aluminum can be used.

When it comes to using the most suitable material for building the fence, do keep in mind the problem of warping. Wood, although looks good, is most prone to warping. Therefore, to minimize this problem, use weather-resistant slat panels or warp-resistant wood like cedar or redwood. Secondly, keep the material covered before installing to avoid any moisture entering the wood. Third, paint over the wooden planks and seal the ends of each plank.

Cedarwood happens to be a bit more expensive. So, if you can’t stretch your budget, you can build a fence using tanalized wooden battens.

How To Build A Horizontal Slat Fence?

Before we begin with the DIY slatted fence procedure, let’s list out the tools required for this process. To build it you will require the following-

  • A Spade
  • Post Hole Diggers
  • Spirit Level
  • String Line
  • Screwdriver
  • Saw
  • Nailer
  • Tape Measure
  • Clamps
  • Paint Brush

The list of supplies is as follows-

  • Paint
  • Nails
  • 2.4 m fence post
  • Wooden Slats for fence

Once you have the tools and the supplies ready, it’s time to follow the steps explained below-

1.  Prepare the area

Prepare the area


The first step is to clear the area where you plan to build the fence. Ensure that it is leveled.

2.  Measure the distance between the posts

To know how far apart you need to place the posts, measure the entire length of the fence using a measuring tape. Mark the corners and measure the distance between the corners. Once you know the distance you can calculate the distance between the posts and the number of posts needed. To arrive at the correct number, divide the entire length of the fence by 1.2 m, and you will know the number of posts needed.

3.  Pattern

Work out a pattern for the slats and the overall height you need for the fence. Use 2.4 m heigh posts because about 60 cms of the post will go inside the hole. Keep a gap of 1 cm between the slats.

4.  Dig holes

Once the area is ready and a pattern is decided, start digging the holes to place the slat fence post. Usually, the standard fence height is about 6ft. So, you need to dig holes that are 1.8 m apart. If need be, adjust the distance between the posts. Use a fence post digger to dig the holes and make them deep. It is a strenuous task that may take a while.

5.  Paint the fences

Using a good quality paintbrush and outdoor paint, it’s time to color the individual fence slats. Why do we do this now and not later when the fence is up because the gaps in the horizontal slatted fence panels would not make it easy to paint the gaps.

6.  Install the posts

Throw a handful of gravel in the hole and place the post. Measure till you reach the correct height for the post. Once satisfied, hold the post in its position by placing three pieces of cut-off wood around it. Now pour postcrete and let it dry. Cut pieces of timber batten measuring the length between two posts and fix them to ensure that there is an equal gap between the posts. This method also ensures that all the posts stand straight and do not wobble. To make sure that all the posts are at the same height, use a string line as a guide.

7.  Fixing the post on the wall

Fixing the post on the wall


If you find yourself in a situation where there is a wall behind the fence, install the first post on the brick using masonry bolts, and not use postcrete.

8.  Install the slat fence panels

Once you are sure you have the posts secured and at the same height, it’s time to drill the slatted fence panels. Using a nailer, start by fixing the bottom most wooden slat for the fence. Remember to get this right because it will be the reference point for the rest of the slat panels. Once you have fixed all the bottom panels, use a piece of cut wood as a placeholder on the bottom fence. It will ensure the gap between the bottom and the second row. Continue placing all the panels in the second row. Now, place the cut wood piece on the second row to act as the placeholder.

9.  Continue the process

Continue with the above explained process till all the panels are firmly fixed. Remember to place the same wood piece so that you get an equal gap between each row of panels.

10.  It’s done

In comparison to digging the posts, this step is less tedious. It may take an equal amount of time but it’s fun to see your work come to life. Once you finish, stand back and admire your work. You will get a sense of achievement. Do not forget to give yourself a pat on the back.

Tips To Remember When You Build a Horizontal Slat Fence

Keep the following pointers in mind while building your horizontal slat fence-

  1. Check for any permissions you need before you start the procedure. There are rules regarding fence height and pattern. Ensure you have all the needful paperwork before getting started.
  2. Paint all the timber beforehand, including posts and panels.
  3. Use a nailer to drill the holes. Do not think of doing this by hand.
  4. As a precaution, if you plan to dig the holes one day and install the posts the next day, cover all the posts. You do not want any burrow animals to jump in the holes and get stuck.
  5. It is a DIY project but getting another man to work with you will make measuring and fixing the posts and panels easy.
  6. Installing the posts is not an hour’s job. It will take time. On average, it takes an hour to fix one post. So, give yourself some rest in between, and do not be hell bent on finishing the job in one go.
  7. Again, as a precautionary measure, cut the top of the wooden posts at an angle. This will ensure that the water runs off and well, it looks aesthetically appealing.
  8. Every wood shrinks, whether it is new or old. If it gets wet, it will shrink.

FAQs – How To Build a Horizontal Slat Fence

FAQs - How To Build a Horizontal Slat Fence


How do you build a modern horizontal slat fence?

Whether you are building a horizontal slat fence or a modern horizontal slat fence, if you follow the above-mentioned steps to the tee, the result will be the same.

 How much space do you need between horizontal fence slats?

It depends on your preference. Ideally, a one-fourth to one-inch gap should be there between wooden slats. This gap ensures ventilation and sunlight. If you feel that’s too much, a one-eight of an inch gap between the slats works as well. This will give more privacy.

How do you space slats on a fence?

The best way to ensure that you leave equal space between the slates, use a cut-off piece of wood as the placeholder. Place this piece of wood above the fixed row of slats and then fix the row of slats above. Follow this step every time you start to fix a new row of slats.

How many rails do I need for a 6-foot fence?

For a 6-foot-high fence, you need 3 rails. Generally, one rail is fixed at the top and the second one at the bottom. A fence should have one horizontal rail every 24 inches. So, for a 6-foot fence, you need to place one horizontal rail in the middle as well.

What is a good distance between fence posts?

The general distance is 6 to 8 feet. But it depends on the size of the area where you plan to put the fence and the type of fence you want there. The closer the posts, there is more strength and safety to the fence. To calculate the correct distance, measure the entire length of the area where you plan to erect the fence. Divide this by 1.2 m, and you will know the right distance between fence posts.


Horizontal slat fences are the new trend. They look different from the traditional vertical pattern. Building one around your house is a great idea and if done correctly it looks amazing. You can even take it up as a DIY and do a bit of research before starting the process. Take help of a few friends who can join you while you build a horizontal slat fence around your house.

Installing a horizontal slat fence can improve the security of your house as well as improve the beauty of your backyard. But what about the interior! We have a dedicated blog on how to install fluted wall panels inside of your house. Check that out to achieve an elegant interior design.

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