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"Good Side" vs. Bad Side of a Fence

When you hear these you should rightfully ask "why do I get the bad side if it is my fence ".  Security and neighbor aesthetics have everything to do with it. 

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POSTED:               May 2023

In most wood privacy fence models, there is a “good” side and a “bad” side. Potential fence customers do not like hearing why they will not get the "Good Side" of a fence and question the reasoning. First, let's address the difference between the two before we get to options and remedies.


The side of the fence with all flat pickets is considered the "good side", and the one with the support beams (a.k.a. "rails") is considered the "bad side".  For a more in depth review of fence terms, please see our other post on Fence Anatomy. For a better depiction of the differences between the "good" and "bad", see below.

The "Good Side" of a fence panel displays a perfectly flat line of pickets. This side is meant to face your neighbor or the street.

The "Bad Side" is also known as the "inside", or "owner's side" displays the supporting, inside rails to which pickets are nailed. 

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Why Does the Fence Owner Get the Bad Side?

This comes down to two important discussions; 

  1. Security

  2. Neighbor relations

Two or three equally spaced rails provide a ladder of types to climb over a fence.  When your rails are facing outwards, this may be an invite for someone to see what is on the other side. Conversely, the "good" side of completely flat set of pickets facing outwards may pose enough trouble for anybody willing to try to gain a foothold.  This "security question" is compounded by homes that have pools that need to meet code. While a 6.0' privacy fence meets most all states' regulations, when the supporting rails are on the outside, you are in violation and will be asked to reverse the install.

With the fence rails to the outside of your fence it provides enough foothold for somebody to climb in

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Neighbor Relations
Some homeowners may care less about this one as this is exactly why they are getting a fence anyway! Joking aside, many HOAs, communities, and towns add this as a rule or code to fence installation and permitting. The town, like your neighbors, will prefer to see the smooth, flat side of the fence panel. You may also hear this referred to as "fence etiquette". 

The flat side is what neighbors should see as well as those who walk or drive by your fenced property

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Work Arounds with Options in Materials and Design

There are a combination of wood designs and material options that can negate this conversation entirely.  Some are simple modifications to the design of a wood panel, while other are differently designed materials that skirt the issue completely.

Wood tongue and groove panels are the same on both sides - no back rails

Horizontal fence does not have inner rails as each picket is its own rail

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All vinyl privacy panels have the same view on each side  - no back rails

Pickets or lattice panels are also configured the same on both sides



When it comes to wood panels, seeing the rails can affect the aesthetics of a fence. More cost-effective wood panels are the normal culprit in this regard. If an upgrade to tongue and groove wood panels or a pivot to vinyl is not in the budget, make sure you know which side you should "own" and that which is seen from the outside.

For more information like this, click below to go to our posts.
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