How to Build a Decorative Curved Picket Fence

Instead of a straight-line fence, learn how to arch the pickets to give your yard an extra burst of curb appeal.

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March 05, 2018

Mina Starsiak of Good Bones partners with Lowes. Not to be used for alternative clients/purposes.

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Skill Level
Estimated Cost $250
Time
Download PDF

Materials and Tools:

The materials listed below are for two fence sections.

  • (2) exterior-grade 6x6 x 8'posts
  • (18) fence pickets (9 per section)
  • (1) 2' x 8' x 3/4" sanded plywood
  • 1x2 board (for spacing)
  • (2) 1x6 x 6' (bottom rail and end caps)
  • 1x1 board (for post nailers)
  • (1) 1x8 x 4' (optional for the end caps)
  • string
  • exterior paint
  • paintbrush
  • exterior screws
  • water
  • (1-2) bags concrete
  • miter saw
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • speed square or straight edge
  • circular saw
  • post hole digger
  • shovel
  • bucket
  • jigsaw
  • drill
  • optional: post level or stakes
  • nails
  • hammer or pneumatic nail gun
Find all the tools and materials for this project at Lowes.com.

Skill Level: intermediate
Estimated Time: one day
Estimated Cost: $250

Dig Holes

Dig post holes for fence posts 48" apart using post hole diggers (Image 1). The depth of the hole should be roughly 1/4 of the fence post height to create a strong base (Image 2).

Set Posts

Set previously painted posts in holes, and add dry concrete around the base of each pole (Image 1). Pour water around poles to activate the concrete (Image 2). Ensure posts are straight using a post level or stake if necessary. Let concrete set. 

Cut Arches

Tack a nail into both posts at the same height with a hammer. Loosely hang string on either nail to determine your desired arch. To have a more pronounced arch, let the string hang lower between the posts. For a shallower arch, use a shorter amount of string (Image 1). Gravity will help create an even arch. Once you have the desired arch shape, trace the line of the string onto the plywood (Image 2). Cut the arch from the plywood using a jigsaw (Image 3). Our arch is 3-1/2”, make yours wider or smaller based on preference and desired style. Repeat steps for each fence section.

Cut Arch Shape in Pickets

Arrange the pickets for the fence section on the work surface, and working from the outside pickets, drop each picket down 3” to match the arch (Image 1). Mark the lines with a speed square (Image 2), and cut them with the miter saw (Image 3).

Paint All Parts

To ensure full paint coverage and to protect the fence from the elements, paint before you assemble the fence (Image 1). Make sure you get the underside of the pickets too (Image 2). 

Attach Pickets to Arch

Mina Starsiak of Good Bones partners with Lowes. Not to be used for alternative clients/purposes.

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Pre-drill holes, then screw the pickets to the arch. The arch needs to overhang the outside of the pickets by one inch so that the fence section can be attached to the 1x1 block on the post. Use a 1x2 board in between pickets to ensure they're spaced evenly.

Attach Bottom Rail

Attach a bottom rail to each section using a 1x6 flush to the bottom of the pickets. Like the curved rail, make sure to leave a one-inch overhang on the outside of the pickets so they can be fastened to the 1x1s on the posts. 

Attach Fence Section to Post

Attach 1x1 nailer strips to the posts at the exact placement of the curved and straight rail (Image 1). Use a level to make sure placement is even with the opposite side. Nail the fence sections to the 1x1 connectors (Image 2). Make sure the brace and arch are facing toward the street to get the biggest impact for your curb appeal. Repeat steps for every fence section.

Add Finishing Touches

To add a decorative top, cut a 1x8 into a square (7-3/4" x 7-3/4"), and attach it to the top of the post. Next, cut a 1x6 into a square (5-3/4" x 5-3/4"), and attach to the top of the bigger square. Repeat for all posts.

Mina Starsiak of Good Bones partners with Lowes. Not to be used for alternative clients/purposes.

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

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