What is Split Rail Fencing? (All that you need to Know)

Posted by Whiskey River Media on

For hundreds of years split rail fencing has been extensively employed in the United States. It might not make the prettiest fence, but it is highly adaptable and useful. In situations where the earth is too rough to drill post holes, it offers clear benefits over other styles of fencing. It is typically utilized in urban contexts.

In this blog, we have covered a basic split rail fencing guide for you.

What is Split Rail Fencing?

One of the simplest fence designs is the split rail fence. It is made up of vertical fence posts that are evenly spaced apart and two to three horizontal rails that join lengthwise all through.


Using rough-split rails is what distinguishes the four different varieties of split rail fencing. To create these rails, logs are split into lengths between 12 and 18 feet. According to the diameter of the logs, the lengthwise splits are next made into eighths or fourths which are then used to make the split fence rails.

Depending on how these rails are employed, the type of split rail fence is determined. We have the following four basic types of split rail fence.

1) Zigzag:

The zigzag fence is the most typical style of a split rail fence and is sometimes referred to as a snake or worm fence. A zigzag fence is one that flows back and forth, as the name suggests and the rails are not supported by any posts. Similar to how playing cards are being shuffled, on top of one another, the rails of the fence's adjacent portions are piled. As a result, the rails provide mutual support and lend the fence its shape.


  • Zigzag fencing is easily adjusted to accommodate changing requirements because there is no long-term connection between the fence and the ground or between the rails themselves.
  • A zigzag fence is ideal for densely forested locations because it is simple to construct around trees and other obstacles.
  • It is also simple to replace a worn-out or damaged rail by unstacking and restacking the fence.
  • This style of fencing is perfect for places where drilling deep post holes is challenging or impossible since it eliminates the necessity to dig large holes to install posts.


The reinforcing at the intersections (a triangle support system where the end of one rail meets the beginning of another) is the fundamental characteristic that distinguishes the patent fence from other types.  Furthermore, rail segments inclined from the ground to the top of the fence provide additional strength to these joints.


  • Because of its capacity to keep both small and large animals enclosed, the patent fence became famous on farms and ranches in the United States.
  • However, it was particularly popular in areas where rocky soil stopped farmers from excavating to establish more permanent posts.
  • The fence, which has many layers of rails from top to bottom, could be utilized for both the pigpen and the horse pasture.

2) Double Post:

A double post system consists of two posts spaced just far enough apart on either side of the fence to allow rails to be stacked between them. In this way, the fence appears paneled and is kept together by a pair of posts at either end of the long rails. The stakes are buried in the earth, making it difficult to relocate the double post fence. The rails, however, are easily replaceable and are not bonded firmly in them.

3) Mortised:

A split rail fence with mortises, or holes, in the posts, to hold the rails' ends, is the most durable sort of split rail fence. These posts are buried in the earth and support a specific number of rails in the fence. In order to fit into the mortises, the rails have a tapered end.


  • They add a rustic touch to the land and are an appealing stylistic choice for horse pastures.

What Makes a Split Rail Fence the Best Option?

Split rail fences are a fantastic option for some homes, but they are terrible for others. Below we have discussed the primary reasons for selecting a split rail fence over other fence styles.

1) Affordability:

The cost of a split rail fence is arguably the main motivation for purchasing one. Because as compared to other fences, a normal split rail fence requires substantially less material to construct due to the wide spaces between the rails and posts. Thus, the use of fewer resources makes split rail fencing the most affordable fence.

2) Safety:

Generally, split rail fences have rounded, dull posts and rails that are quite secure for everyone. Livestock that charges the fence out of fear and likewise kids who choose to leap the fence are less likely to be hurt by the installation of split rail fencing.

Additionally, if your neighborhood has a neighborhood watch, it's simpler for neighbors to spot and report intruders. This will deter some trespassing to some extent.

3) Simple & easy installation:

Split rail fences can be quickly and simply installed. A split rail fence is quite simple to install and even a novice carpenter or builder might self-install one without too much difficulty.

4) Beautiful appearance:

A split-rail fence is a beautiful way to define your space. It provides your place with a rustic, cozy appearance while letting visitors know where your property starts. The fact that a split rail fence does not obstruct any of the land's natural beauty is another advantage.

5) Exceptionally low upkeep:

For their rustic, natural appearance, split rail fences are frequently chosen as they do not need any painting or repainting. Additionally, split rail fencing components receive particular handling before installation, making them resistant to deterioration and keep looking good for a long time. Even if you construct a fence from scrap wood around your home, maintenance is still minimal; you just need to replace a rail or post every so often.

6) Mark Property Lines:

If you have a sizable ranch or farm and actually only need a reliable reference point for where your land boundary begins, it is extremely useful.

7) Functional:

Even though it won't keep all people out the majority of large animals will be kept on one side of your land or the other. Your livestock won't be able to get through the fence, despite the big openings. And neither your neighbors’ livestock stray into your yard and munch all the grass either.



You must understand the following things before purchasing a wood split rail fence:

1) Not-so-simple installation process:

The first thing to understand is that wood split rail fence installation is more complicated than it first appears. The area where the fence will be installed must be measured first, then the fence posts must be marked, and in the last dig concrete-filled holes for the fence posts. The fence rails can be installed after the fence posts are set.

2) Cost:

Another factor to keep in mind is the price difference between a wood-split rail fence and a chain-link or vinyl fence because the components for a wood-split rail fence are more costly, and installing one requires more work.

3) Maintenance:

Additionally, the wood split rail fences require more upkeep than other fence types because to keep the fence protected from the elements, you need to stain or paint it frequently.

4) Not too secure:

It's obvious that the split rail fence is not your best option for home defense given all the big holes throughout. However, it does offer some security—a little bit.


Last words:

You'll be sure to select the perfect fence for your needs if you keep these factors in mind while selecting one for your place. The limitations of Split rail fencing are not that significant to impact its popularity and Split rail fencing has been used for centuries and will remain a reliable option for fencing in the future. Its straightforward design and construction make it adaptable to a wide range of circumstances and enable modification as conditions evolve. The best part is that it does away with the substantial difficulties that some people encounter when attempting to install long-distance permanent fence posts to protect cattle, sheep, or horses. It also has style, usefulness, and even a modicum of security. It is inexpensive, and simple to install and keep up.

If you're looking for a fence contractor, choose the right kind of fence for your house or paddock or stables with the aid of Cameo Fence; our team is highly qualified and offers reasonable rates.

Safe wire fencing, cedar privacy fences, Wooden split rail fencing and all other popular fencing types are our areas of expertise. We also manage a wide range of commercial and exterior projects for fences, and gates. While ensuring our work for each fence we construct, we also provide the finest caliber of experienced craftsmanship and an unrivaled devotion to you.

Contact us at Cameo Fence for a quote if you're looking for a fence contractor in the United States.

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