Since you’re wondering what a shadow box fence is, I should point out the most obvious first. It has nothing to do with a box. A shadow box fence is actually a semi-private fence that’s made by placing standard privacy fence pickets on both sides of the fence with spaces between each picket. Since there’s a board in between the pickets on the outside of the fence and the pickets on the inside of the fence, this causes a shadow effect.
Shadow box fences are typically 6 or 8 feet tall but aren’t completely private. When you look straight 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. The view is obstructed, but you can see through them well enough to tell what’s happening on the other side. This is because they are built with the pickets spaced around 2 inches apart on each side of the fence. The spaces are lined up with the picket on the opposite side so you can’t see through the fence looking at it straight on.
These fences are not completely private, but there are some advantages they have over basic privacy fences that have pickets which are butted together. The most obvious advantage is that they are more stylish than a basic privacy fence and will set your fence apart from your neighbors. Basic privacy fences have one pretty side and a shadow box looks good from inside or outside of the fence. They also hold up to wind better than an average privacy fence. Since they are not completely solid, wind can pass through them without putting as much stress on your fence. Standard privacy fences are the first to go in a major storm.
There’s some disadvantages to them as well. As mentioned above, they’re not completely private but most wood privacy fences aren’t. Most people don’t realize that treated wood usually shrinks when it has time to dry out. This means that even though your fence may not have any gaps between the pickets when it’s first built, it probably will after a little time passes. You will still be able to see a lot more of the action on the other side of shadow box fencing than you will with a basic privacy fence. For this reason, you don’t usually see a lot of them in neighborhoods where houses are close together. The other disadvantage is price. The shadow box requires a considerable amount of additional material and also requires more labor to build. This will end up costing you more to have one installed.
In the end, you have to weigh the pros and cons when determining whether this type of fence is right for you. Is it more important to have privacy or is curb appeal more important? Also, is a higher cost up front more important than the risk of your fence being blown down more easily in high winds? Now that you know what a shadow box fence is, you should take them in to consideration if you’re planning on getting a fence of your own built.