Building a fence is a popular project that adds both privacy and aesthetic to your home. Plus, fences are easily customizable to your needs and taste.
This design has louvered fence boards, which are like slats on a shutter. The louvers shown are vertical, but you can have them run horizontally or even mix fence sections together to fit your needs. Louvered designs are fun choices for a few reasons. First, they’re uncommon and will add uniqueness to your yard; second, they allow more air to pass through than a solid fence, which keeps the air in your yard from feeling stagnant. But perhaps the most common reason is much the same as louvered window blinds: privacy. Louvered fences allow you to see out in one direction, but block sight in another direction—offering some privacy without blocking your view entirely.
There are several different ways to make a louvered fence section. One way is to cut small pieces of lumber to fit between each fence board. This makes for consistent angles and spacing (assuming you cut the spacers accurately)—but it’s a lot of cutting, and you end up with plenty of edges and cracks that can collect dirt over time. Another way is to use a Kreg jig to screw fence boards into a frame. A Kreg jig is a wonderful tool, but if you’re using cedar fence boards, we don’t think the jig is the best choice since cedar is pretty soft and relatively thin. (And a jig isn’t the easiest choice for a beginner.)
Ultimately, we went simple by anchoring screws into the ends of each fence board. This method is best done with two people.
One important note: A louvered fence section essentially has boards “floating” in a frame without any support other than at the ends of the fence boards. Because of this, you may want to create smaller sections. If you’re only building louvers for the top couple of feet of your fence, you’ll probably be fine. But if you’re building a full fence (often 8’ wide and 6’ tall), you’ll want to break it up into smaller sections so your spans are shorter and your fence remains sturdy.
Let’s get to building!
Step 1: Plan fence design
As mentioned, louvered boards “float” in a frame because they’re only secured at the ends of the boards. Our fence section uses one-by-four fence boards with one-by-threes at the top and bottom as anchors. The one-by-threes will also be mounted to a sturdy two-by-four that spans the length between fence posts. (Need to set up fence posts? See this tutorial.)
Our instructions are for making one louvered section. Ten slats will be enough for about thirty inches of width if you space the slats as we did. Customize the measurements for your own fence and duplicate it for multiple sections.
Step 2: Mark lines for screw holes
Draw two lines down the length of one one-by-three: one line 3/4” in from the long edge and the other 2” from that same edge. In the next step, we’ll mark spots along these lines to place the screws.
Step 3: Mark spots for screws
Along the line 3/4” from the edge, make a mark 3/4” in from the end of the board. Then make marks every 3 1/4” after that down the length of your one-by-three.
Along the line 2” from the edge, make a mark 2 3/4” in from the end of the board. Then make marks every 3 1/4” after that.
Be as precise as possible with your marks, as they’ll determine the placement and angle of your louvered boards.
Step 4: Drill holes for screws
In this step, you’ll drill holes in both one-by-threes at the same time. Put the board you made the marks on directly on top of the other one-by-three, and clamp them together. Pre-drill a hole through both boards at the marks you made using a 3/32” drill bit. Make sure you drill as straight as possible. One of these one-by-threes will be your top cap, and the other will be your bottom cap.
Step 5: Fasten boards to caps
Use two 1 1/2” screws at each end of each board to secure them in place. This is where having someone to help comes in handy. The hardest part of this project is holding the fence boards in place so the screws properly drive into the middle of the ends of each fence board. One person will drive the screws, and the other will hold the board.
Start by laying out your fence boards and caps roughly in place. Then, using a helper to hold the boards, fasten two screws up through your bottom cap into the ends of each angled fence board. You can drive the screws partway through the one-by-three so the tip pokes out before placing the fence boards if you find that makes placement of the boards easier.
Repeat with the top cap, fastening your screws through the one-by-three and into the center of the ends of each board.
Step 7: Mount to fence rails
Now that you have the center of your section complete, it’s time to mount it to the fence rails that run between the fence posts. We're assuming you have your bottom rail already level and secured between fence posts. Carefully, with a helper, stack your louvered section on top of your bottom two-by-four fence rail and fasten in place using 1 1/2” screws. Drive the screws down through the one-by-three into the two-by-four below.
Then, with a helper, lay the second two-by-four in place atop the louvered fence section, and fasten them together by screwing up from the bottom of the one-by-three into the two-by-four above.
Finally, fasten the top two-by-four rail securely into the fence posts on either side with screws.
That’s it! Now you’ve got your very own louvered fence section. We hope you enjoy this new addition to your yard. For more on fencing, check out our blogs on how to build a vertical fence, a horizontal fence, and a framed-panel fence.