How to Build Privacy Fence Panels With Lattice Tops

Privacy fence panels come in a wide variety of styles. You can purchase them ready-made, but if you have basic carpentry skills, it’s just as simple to create your own. By adding panels with lattice to the top of your privacy fence, you can make the fence look more appealing than if you build it with plain lumber. Create the lattice-topped panels with premade 4-by-8-foot lattice panels cut to fit the tops of your privacy fence panels. Erect the fence posts before building the individual panels to complete the fence.

Step 1

Measure 2-by-4-inch lumber for the horizontal rails that connect the posts. Cut three horizontal rails with a circular saw for each panel.

Step 2

Hold the bottom rail in position approximately six inches above the ground. Use a carpenter’s level to check the board for levelness. Mark the location of the bottom rail. Predrill two holes at a 45 degree angle from the top of this rail into the post so you can toenail it. Toenailing, or inserting nails at an angle, creates a solid joint when joining two pieces of wood at an angle. Repeat on the opposite end of the rail. Place galvanized 16d nails in the pilot holes and hammer the nails into the fence post.

Step 3

Set the middle rail at the level you want it between the fence posts and level it. Predrill holes so you can toenail the board in place as you did the bottom rail. Continue setting the horizontal rails by placing the top rail even with the top of the fence posts. When you complete this step, you have two rectangular shapes: one on top for the lattice panels and one on the bottom for the vertical uprights that provide the privacy panel.

Step 4

Measure the length and width of the inside of the two rectangles. Cut enough 1-by-1-inch lumber to create two sets of frames to hold the privacy sections and the lattice.

Step 5

Measure five-eighths inch in from the edge of the horizontal boards and the fence posts. Place a long cut piece of 1-by-1-inch lumber along this line on the top board. Clamp it in place with wood clamps. Drill pilot holes every six inches through the 1-by-1 and into the horizontal board. Secure the 1-by-1 with 16d nails. Tap the nails below the surface of the wood with a nail set.

Step 6

Place the two side pieces along the 5/8-inch line. Drill pilot holes through them and into the posts every six inches. Secure the side pieces of the frame with nails hammered into the posts. Use the nail set to tap nails below the surface of the wood.

Step 7

Set the long bottom board of the frame in place along the 5/8-inch line. Predrill holes and secure it. Set the nails with the nail set. This completes one side of the frame around the lattice opening of the panel.

Step 8

Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 to attach the frame to the larger privacy panel opening.

Step 9

Measure and cut 1-by-6-inch lumber the vertical length of the bottom section of the fence. The number of pieces you cut depends on the width of the fence panel. If necessary, cut the length of one board to fit.

Step 10

Hold the first 1-by-6 against the frame and the fence post. Check that is plumb, or straight up and down, with the carpenter’s level. Drill two pilot holes at a 45 degree angle through the upright and into the rail at both the top and bottom of the 1-by-6. Attach the board to the rail with galvanized 8d finishing nails. Repeat this process for the placement of each piece of the vertical 1-by-6 lumber.

Step 11

Measure and cut a piece of premade wood lattice to fit inside the frame on top of your privacy panel. Avoid hitting the metal fasteners in the lattice as you cut. If necessary, remove the fasteners, make the cut, and then replace the fasteners.

Step 12

Hold the lattice panel against the 1-by-1 frame. Drill 45 degree angle pilot holes through the lattice and into the horizontal rails and fence posts. Secure the lattice with galvanized 4d nails.

Step 13

Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 to build the second set of 1-by-1-inch frames to hold the vertical uprights and lattice in place.

Step 14

Repeat each of the above steps to complete the entire fence.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • 2-by-4-inch lumber
  • Circular saw
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Galvanized 16d nails
  • Hammer
  • 1-by-1-inch lumber
  • Wood clamps
  • Nail set
  • 1-by-6-inch lumber
  • Galvanized 8d finishing nails
  • Galvanized 4d nails


  • While you can build these lattice-topped panels on your own, certain steps are easier to accomplish if you have a helper to hold the lumber.
  • Look for lumber that is blemish-free and straight for your privacy fence panels.
  • If you plan to paint the fence, paint the individual pieces before you install them.

About the Author

Denise Brown is an education professional who wanted to try something different. Two years and more than 500 articles later, she's enjoying her freelance writing experience for online resources such as Work.com and other online information sites. Brown holds a master's degree in history education from Truman State University.