Gravel boards seem to be a popular option for many fences, but do you really need one?
A fence with wooden panels can be safely built without the use of a gravel board. Gravel boards help significantly prolong the lifespan of wooden fence panels, provide extra privacy, and improve the fence’s appearance, but they are not essential to the overall integrity of the fence.
Even though you don’t really need a gravel board to build a perfectly good fence, there are many reasons you might consider putting one in your next fence. This article will help you to determine whether you need one for your fence or not.
What is a Gravel Board?
In order to truly understand whether a gravel board would be a good enough idea to pursue your fence, we need to understand what a gravel board is and why people put them on their fences.
Gravel boards are wooden or concrete boards that are placed at the bottom of the fence that act as a barrier between your wooden fence panels and the soil.
This separation from the soil protects your nice, wooden fence panels from moisture, insect damage, rotting, and hungry weed trimmers.
When Would I Need a Gravel Board for My Fence?
Now that we’ve covered what a gravel board is and why they exist, we need to figure out when you might need one (or want one).
Most people do not have a need for a gravel board for their fence, but can put them in for the many benefits they offer; such as increased longevity for your fence, increased privacy, and aesthetic purposes.
Gravel boards extend the life of your fence panels by separating them from the soil, moisture, and insects on the ground. Additionally, they significantly help improve the structural stability of your fence; with the gravel board reinforcing your fence panels.
Should you live in a climate that experiences significant rainfall or heavy dews, a gravel board would have a significant positive impact on the lifetime of your fence.
Not having to regularly replace your fence panels because they rotted from the moisture in the soil could save you thousands of dollars.
Additionally, with the gravel boards being ground level, and sometimes partially belowground in the case of concrete gravel boards, they make a great deterrent for any pets that like to dig holes and escape. Your lawn and neighbors will thank you.
If you have pressure-treated fence panels, the impact a gravel board will have on your fence’s life will not be nearly as significant as with dip-treated panels.
Due to the nature of gravel boards having the fence panels slot into them, they allow for a much cleaner and more private fence than normal. This can be very beneficial to those that wish to have their backyard, or whatever area they have fenced off, to not have any prying eyes.
Turning your area into a private retreat can be very refreshing.
Gravel boards do a wonderful job at keeping nosy neighbors from peeking through the gaps in fence slats, or from your neighbor’s dog from seeing you every time you or your dog step outside and alerting the whole neighborhood to your presence.
Another big advantage with gravel boards is the aesthetic. Gravel boards help to clean up the look of your fence, removing gaps and generally just making the fence look more cohesive and uniform.
A fence with gravel boards looks sturdier and more impressive than fences without.
Gravel boards are also extremely popular in the United Kingdom, especially because of their rainy climate.
If you are really into the European aesthetic, then putting a gravel board in your fence could be a wonderful option for you.
Which is Better: Concrete or Wooden Gravel Boards?
Choosing between wooden and concrete gravel boards can be tricky. Like all decisions, they both have their benefits and their drawbacks.
Here is a look at some of the big differences between wooden and concrete gravel boards:
|Wooden Gravel Boards||Concrete Gravel Boards|
|Require fairly regular maintenance||Maintenance-free|
|Cheaper||Can be expensive|
|Aesthetically pleasing||Heavy contrast with wooden fence panels|
|Fairly easy install||Medium-level difficulty install|
Something to think about with concrete gravel boards is that while they are maintenance-free, they don’t blend very well with wooden fence panels and fence posts.
An easy solution for this is to use concrete fence posts in conjunction with your concrete gravel board. Unfortunately, this would drive up the cost.
Another benefit of concrete gravel boards is that you can extend them into the ground very easily. This provides extra stability and structural integrity.
Wooden gravel boards are great for a cheaper and more aesthetic approach to protecting your fence. Due to the gravel boards being the same material as the panels, the fence looks much more cohesive, as opposed to the contrast of the concrete.
This especially becomes true when you stain your panels, posts, and gravel boards all with the same wood stain; it is a much more unified look.
Things to Be Aware of When Building a Fence with Gravel Boards
It would be an absolute shame to have spent all that time building your fence and then be taken by surprise and potentially have to rebuild your fence.
The first thing to make sure you understand is that putting gravel boards in will increase the height of your fence. It is a good idea to double-check your measurements and get panels that fit with the added height of the gravel board.
Because gravel boards will only impact the height of the fence panels, you only have to worry about the fence panel height and not the fence posts.
Also, many areas have zoning laws that restrict the height of your fence. Check-in with your local zoning code to ensure that your fence will not break these laws, or you may either have to rebuild it or have to get an expensive permit.
As mentioned previously, gravel boards aren’t necessary so adding one can needlessly increase the price of your fence. But, if it fits your preference, we say go for it.