How to Build a Shadow Box Fence

A shadow box fence provides privacy without totally walling you off from your surroundings.

Shadow Box Fence

Better looking than a solid fence, they are just as easy to build. Follow these simple steps and you will soon have a shadow box fence of your own.

  1. Outline where your fence will go. Mark each post at your desired distance apart. 8 feet is a typical distance. Dig hole roughly 20-24 inches deep and about 8 inches wide. Insert the post and fill with concrete or gravel, making sure the post is plumb. Cut the post top to the desired height.

  2. Attach 2x4s between the posts, use one on the bottom about 6 inches from the ground, one in the middle, and one about 6 inches from the top of your posts. The 2x4 should be oriented horizontally, so that it is flush on both sides of the 4x4.

  3. Attach fence pickets to one side of the fence, fastening to the 2x4s. Between each picket, leave a space equal to half the width of the fence pickets. For a 6 inch picket, leave 3 inches of space.

  4. Repeat on the other side, this time alternating with the first side so that the second side's pickets cover the first side's spaces and vice verse.


For a more elegant look, use cedar instead of pressure treated. Stainless steal screws will not rust, but are more expensive.


As always, wear safety goggles and ear plugs. Check with your local build codes department to see if you need any special permits or if there are any restrictions on fence type or size.