Shadow Box Fence Vs Board on Board Fence (Side by Side Comparison)

shadow box fence vs board on board

What happens in your yard stays in your yard, right? 

True, but only when you have some privacy.

Privacy fences are usually made of wooden materials that come in different variations and styles. Two of these materials are the shadow box fence and the board on board fence.

Choosing the right pattern to go for could be confusing since both have their advantages and disadvantages.

To make the right decision, you have to consider the pros and cons of each, and how well it will work for your yard.

Not to worry, I’m here to help you to make that decision. This is why I’ll be doing this shadow box fence Vs board on board fence comparison.

The information provided here will help you to make the right decision, so keep reading.

Board on Board Fence

shadow box fence vs board on board
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If you’re looking for a sturdily built wood-fencing option (which I’m sure you are), you might want to consider the board on board fence.

The panels are fixed along horizontal rails with vertical board construction on both sides. The sides of the board-on-board fencing style are overlapped, which means you’ll be having two layers of wood as opposed to having just one. 

This overlapping technique ensures that the fence stands firm and strong. It also helps the fence last longer, unlike the regular single-layer fencing style.

Wood can shrink as it ages but that won’t be a problem with the board-on-board fencing style because the overlap prevents any gaps from appearing in the fence.

As you can imagine, this fencing style will cost you a good sum of money thanks to the number of wood needed to construct it. Building it will also require some manpower, which can spike up the costs as well.

Nonetheless, it’s a great idea to go for it if you have a decent budget and your privacy means everything to you. 

Thinking of how sturdy the fence will be and how long it will last might make it easier for you to spend the extra cash.

Related: Pros and Cons of Shadow Box Fence

Shadowbox Fence

shadow box fence vs board on board
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It is quite common for people to confuse board-on-board fences with shadow box fences. Understandably so since they have similarities in terms of appearance.

One such similarity is the use of two vertical rows of boards fixed to a horizontal beam.

As for what makes them different, the board-on-board fencing style doesn’t have gaps where one can peep through, it is totally opaque. The shadow box fence on the other hand has spaces where you could look through if you come up close.

This makes the board-on-board fence a 100% privacy fence while the shadow box fence is a semi-privacy fence.

As for construction cost, the shadow box fencing style is more expensive to build. This is because more woods and workers are needed for the job. It also requires a more technical approach, so you need to hire experts for the job.

The shadow box option is the right choice if you don’t mind compromising your privacy a bit but still want a well-built wooden fence.

Comparison between Board on Board Fence & Shadow Box Fence

The board on board fencing style has some advantages that may interest you. And so does the shadow box fence.

So, how do they fare against each other?

Visual appeal

Most fencing styles have only one attractive side. With a board on board fence, you’ll have two sides that look the same and are equally attractive.

This will spare you the headache involved in choosing which side of the fence you want to face your yard.

The shadow box fence also offers you two-sided visual appeal as both sides of the fence look exactly the same.

In this area, I’d call it a tie since you get the same value regardless of which of the fencing styles you go for.

Vertical Height

An advantage of the board on board fence is that it has a good vertical height. I’m talking as high as 8 feet.

It is perfect for areas where privacy is heavily required such pools or hot tubs.

For ultimate privacy from your neighbors, board on board fence is a good option.

As for the shadow box fence, the vertical height can also go as high as 8 feet. Meaning it provides the same amount of coverage that board on board fence offers. 


If you have children or pets, then I’m sure you’d want to keep them as safe as possible. A board on board fence can provide ultimate privacy for your kids and pets.

This fencing style doesn’t have see-through spaces, so outsiders cannot peep through to see what’s going on in your yard. This will make you feel more confident that your kids and pets are safe around the yard.

As for the shadow box fence, there are spaces that anyone close enough can peep through. 

So, if you’re looking for 100% privacy, go for the board on board fence. It wins this round.


For homeowners that are particular about strength and durability, board on board fence is the better choice.

The overlapping boards provide twice the strength and stamina needed to ensure the fence lasts a very long time. Also, the posts used for board-on-board fencing are usually long. And this means it can be installed deeper into the ground for a more sturdy build.

The shadow box fence is also sturdily built but not as sturdy as the board on board fence. 

It’s true that the boards placed in-between the pickets in a shadow box fence provide some extra stability, but not as strong as the former. This is because the design is more focused on creating a shadow effect than actual stability.

If you’re more interested in strength than you are in the beauty, then the board on board fence is the one to go for.

Finish Options

With the board on board fencing, you can choose to finish with several colors and styles.

You can paint, varnish, or just leave the fence bare as it is.

You also have several finish options with the shadow box fence. Although, the design of the fence is much fancier as a result of the shadow effect. So, the finishing will look a lot better.

If you fancy beautiful styles, designs, and mind-blowing finishing, go for the shadow box fence design.

The shadow box fence wins this round for me.


Honestly, constructing a board on board fence isn’t as expensive as building a shadow box fence, but it will still cost you a lot.

The overlapping design of a board on board fence requires two layers of wood instead of one. This is why you’ll still need to spend some good money building it.

The shadow box fence, on the other hand, requires a lot more wood to construct. This is due to the design that leaves pickets spaced out on both sides of the fence with boards and posts placed in-between.

Kids and Pets’ Preference

It’s true that a fence is supposed to create a barrier between the outside world and your yard. Certainly, both the board on board fence and shadow box fence do exactly that. 

That’s a good thing, right? Well, it depends. 

Kids and pets have a tendency to be curious, especially when there are noises that prompt them to be.

Board on board fences do not have spaces where one can peep through, so if there is something on the other side of the fence that attracts the attention of kids, they may be prompted to jump or climb to see what it is, hence, putting themselves at risk of falling and injuries.

This is an advantage a shadow box fence has over the board on board fence since kids and pets will have their curiosities satisfied by simply peeping through the spaces in the fence to see what’s happening outside.

That being said, I think kids and pets will love the shadow box fence a lot more because it allows them to take a look outside.

Construction time

Both of these two fence styles consume a decent amount of time to construct. However, the shadow box fence takes a lot longer.

This is because it requires a lot more wood to work with and the design is a bit more complicated than a board on board fence.

Final Verdict

The shadow box fence and the board on board fence are both beautiful and effective fence styles to have around your yard.

They have many similar qualities just as they have differences, so you should make your choice based on how well each fence style can work for you.

I hope this shadow box fence Vs board on board fence comparison article will help you to make the right decision regarding which fencing style to go for.


Shadow Box Fence Vs Board on Board Fence (Side by Side Comparison)

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