Shadow Box Fence Pros and Cons

shadow box fence pros and cons

For those who don’t know what a shadow box fence is, allow me to explain (and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with an actual box).

A shadow box fence is a type of privacy fence constructed by placing pickets on opposite sides of the fence, with each picket spaced out.

A board is placed in-between the pickets which gives it a shadow effect.

A shadow box fence is usually built to a height of about 8 feet tall. The spaces in-between the pickets mean it’s a semi-private fence.

From a distance, an onlooker wouldn’t be able to see what’s on the other side of the fence, but you can get a view when you come up close, even though the board causes a little obstruction.

The pickets used to build the fence are usually spaced 2 inches apart, hence, your ability to get an angled view of the other side.

Shadow box fences have pretty much the same benefits as traditional privacy fences, being that they obstruct an outsider’s view of your yard and also keep pets and kids within confinement.

The shadow box design has unique advantages that the traditional privacy fence doesn’t.

Below, I will list out some of the major advantages of a shadow box fence.

Keep reading!

Shadow Box Fence Benefits (Advantages)

1. Shadow Box Design is Appealing to the Eyes

shadow box fence pros and cons
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A shadow box fence design features the standard posts of a traditional privacy fence but with 3 rails spanning in-between.

The builders fix a picket to one side of the rails and another picket on the other side of the rails. There is also a minor overlap that obscures the view.

This altering design is used all through the width of the fence, giving it a beautiful pattern.

The wood and light team up to create a lovely shadow effect that you’d love to look at.

If you want to add a touch of style and flair to your fence and your yard as a whole, a shadow box fence would suit you just fine. Your visitors would love it too. You might even make it one of your favorite selfie-taking spots.

2. Fencing Looks the Same on Both Sides

The shadow box fence is unique in the sense that it looks the same on both sides. The same way you see it is the same way your neighbor on the other side also sees it. The only significant difference is in the posts.

The advantage here favors your neighbors more since they get to enjoy the same beautiful view as you have from inside your yard.

3. Alternating Pickets Give the Fence More Durability and Sturdiness

A major structural advantage of a shadow box fence is that it is long-lasting. If it is properly maintained and kept pest-free, then it will remain in tip-top shape for many years.

A shadow box fence’s durability comes from the alternating installation manner of the pickets. This allows the weight of the entire fence to be distributed evenly between the rails. This type of construction will put your mind at ease regarding slacking or loosened pickets.

4. Pets and Children Can Peep Through

shadow box fence pros and cons
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One of the major disadvantages of a standard privacy fence is that the view on the other side is sealed off.

Kids and pets can become pretty curious about noises or sounds coming from behind the fence and are usually tempted to climb or jump up the fence to see what’s on the other side.

With a shadow box fence, the problem of pet or child curiosity is solved. They can get a view of what’s on the opposite side by simply coming close to the fence and peeping through the spaces.

The view is indeed slightly angled but it would satisfy their curiosity to a large extent. I’m sure you’d rather have that than your kids climbing up and putting themselves at risk of falling.

Privacy is the whole idea behind building fences but being able to see what’s on the other side is still a major advantage.

5. Shadow Box Fences are Customizable

Shadow box fences share a similar advantage with a traditional privacy fence in the sense that they offer the builder or yard owner several customization options.

These options include the preferred type of wood, styles, unique colors, and staining.

The convex panel top is one of the most popular customization styles for shadow box fences. The pickets are used to create a convex arch from one post to the other, which gives a profile that resembles a dog’s ear.

You also have the option of changing the appearance of the picket top itself. The gothic top is also a popular customized style for box fences. It resembles a rounded spearhead and it looks cool.

Many homeowners who fancy this style are fond of pairing it with gothic post caps. 

Many builders expand the pickets beyond the top rail but you can also end the fence in a top rail. This type of construction makes the fence a lot sturdier at the top. It also causes an extra shadow effect between the top rail and the top of the pickets. And this improves the beauty and overall appeal of the fence.

A little lattice top is also a customizable option. Going with this style will enhance the open feel of the shadow box fence.

This design means the contractors will reduce the length of the pickets and attach a lattice instead of a top rail. A woven appearance is the result of this design.

Disadvantages of Shadow Box Fences

As lovely and beneficial as shadow box fences are, they also have a few downsides that I will list out below.

1. It is Not Completely Private

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Shadow box fences do not offer 100% privacy as there are spaces in-between the pickets that one can peep through.

If you want the view of your yard completely blocked, a shadow box fence is not the best option. A more traditional privacy fence or brick fence should be considered.

2. It Takes a Longer Time to Construct

Another major disadvantage of a shadow box fence is that it takes too long to build. Spacing the pickets 2 to 3 inches away from each other requires a lot of measurements on the part of the contractor.

Placing the boards in-between will also consume time.

If you’re in a hurry to get your fence built just in time for your upcoming barbeque party, you may lose patience watching the slow but steady process of constructing a shadow box fence.

3. A Shadow Box Fence Requires More Expertise to Construct

Since pickets have to be spaced at intervals and a board placed in-between to create a shadow effect, it means that you would need to hire a skilled professional to build it.

Hiring a contractor who only specializes in building traditional privacy fences could potentially lead to a poor or undesirable result.

Although many contractors know how to build a shadow box fence the right way, you still have to be careful when you hire one.

A quick tip for hiring skilled contractors is to ask for pictures of shadow box fences they have built in the past. Also, request for pictures of different customization styles.

If you have the time, you can contact references before you hire. These steps will ensure that you are giving the job to the right contractor.

4. Building a Shadow Box Fence is Costly

Besides being time-consuming, constructing a shadow box fence also requires the use of more building materials. This, of course, means spending more money.

If the contractor would like to get the job done in good time, they would also need to hire more labor. As you can guess, hiring more labor would reflect on the bill you get from the contractor.

Constructing a shadow box fence should not even be considered if you don’t have a budget for this.

5. It is Harder to Maintain

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A shadow box fence with its unique design is harder to maintain than traditional privacy fences.

There are spaces in-between the pickets and boards, which means you will have more areas to cover both on the visible parts of the fence and the inner parts when it’s time to spray the fence with varnish or insect repellents.


Shadow box fences have a very unique style that makes it very good to look at. 

It also allows kids and pets to have a peep through to see the other side, thereby satisfying their curiosity. But to build one, you need to be patient and have a healthy budget because of the cost.

I hope you find this article helpful.


Shadow Box Fence Pros and Cons
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