What the heck is a shadow box fence?
Since you are wondering what a shadow box fence is, I must first point out the most obvious one. It has nothing to do with a box. A shade box fence is actually a semi-private fence that is made by placing standard privacy fence pickets on both sides of the fence with spaces between each picket. Since there is a board between the pickets on the outside of the fence and the pickets on the inside of the fence, this causes a shadowing effect.
Shade box fences are usually 6 to 8 feet tall, but they are not completely private. When you look directly at them, you can’t see what’s on the other side. But, when you look at one from an angle, you can see through it. Your view is obstructed, but you can see through them well enough to know what’s happening on the other side. This is because they are constructed with the pickets spaced about 2 inches apart on each side of the fence. The gaps are lined up with the picket on the opposite side so you can’t see through the fence looking straight at it.
These fences are not completely private, but there are some advantages they have over basic privacy fences that have pickets that are linked together. The most obvious advantage is that they are more elegant than a basic privacy fence and will differentiate your fence from that of your neighbors. Basic privacy fences have a pretty side and a shade box looks good from inside or outside the fence. They also withstand the wind better than an average privacy fence. Since they are not completely solid, the wind can blow through them without putting as much stress on the fence. Standard privacy fences are the first to disappear in a major storm.
They also have some downsides. As mentioned above, they are not completely private, but most wooden privacy fences are not. Most people don’t realize that treated wood normally shrinks when it has time to dry. This means that while your fence may not have gaps between pickets when it is first built, it probably will after a little time. You will still be able to see a lot more action on the other side of the shadow box fence than with a basic privacy fence. For this reason, you generally don’t see many in neighborhoods where houses are close together. The other downside is the price. The shadow box requires a considerable amount of additional material and also requires more labor to build. This will end up costing more to have one installed.
In the end, you need to weigh the pros and cons when determining whether this type of fence is right for you. Is privacy more important or curb appeal more important? Also, is a higher up-front cost more important than the risk that your fence will collapse more easily in high winds? Now that you know what a shade box fence is, you need to consider it if you are planning to build a fence of your own.