's Glossary of Fence Terminology

Here are some helpful terms in the Fencing Industry.

Glossary Of Terms


  • A blank post has no holes routed for rails from the sections to slide into it. This post is used normally as a gate latch post. The gate may not have any sections attached on one side or both sides so therefore no sections need to connect to the post. No holes in the posts are necessary for rails. Also a blank post can be ordered to allow custom cutting of holes for certain applications.


  • A sliding gate that uses a counter-balance that rides in or between or on rollers to hold the gate off the ground. No portion of the gate touches the ground and it does not utilize wheels or rollers that touch the ground. The cost of a cantilever gate can easily surpass 150% of a swing gate. Since no portion of this gate touches the ground, it can be used anywhere the grade is reasonably level. There are two common tracking methods used for these gates. One consists of 4 rollers, two at the top above the gate frame and two at the bottom, below the gate frame. These rollers are mounted to a minimum of two counter-balance posts. The upper and lower horizontal gate frames ride between the sets of rollers, so the gate frame actually serves as the track. The other type of roller system uses a special channel built-in to the top of the gate frame. Two or more trolleys are then mounted to the counter-balance posts and these trolleys ride inside the channel. No bottom track is required, only guides to keep the bottom of the gate riding true. The 4 roller variety is cheaper than the trolley system, but the trolley system is far superior and safer, since the rollers are not exposed for fingers. Also the later has less interference from weather, since they are covered within the inverted channel. The trolley system also looks a lot better since the trolleys are hidden. The 4 roller system is not very attractive on residential gates. Roller guards are necessary additions to the 4-roller system to avoid injury.


  • This post forms a corner in a fence layout where two sections meet. The corner can be a 90 degree angle or anything close to that. There is a point at which the angle will exceed the practical use of a corner post and a line post should be used instead. the approximate angle is 135 degrees where 180 degrees is a straight line. A corner post has two sides routed for rails. The routed sides are adjacent to each other. Routed holes allow the sections of fence to connect to the post.


  • A hinged gate with two leaves. Many single swing gates are not possible at great widths, so a second leaf is used. Maximum widths depend on fence style.


  • An end post terminates a line of fence. Only one side of the post has routed holes for one section to connect to it. A gate post is also an end post, because the sections end there and the gate starts. Gates to not have to slide into routed post holes. Some styles of fence also require that a gate post have a heavier wall to support the gate. The wall thickness is the width of the post wall in the case of a hollow post.


  • The earth's vertical height. This is also the bottom of a fence, where it meets the earth. A level grade is exactly that. The earth at that location is level. A slope is a declining grade. In a LINE of fence, the GRADE can be different and changing along its length, requiring special considerations at the point of drastic grade changes. The earth's grade and the fence grade do not have to be identical. If they are different, the fence will have a space under it or require burying into the soil.

LINE of fence

  • Any straight line of fence unbroken by gates or openings in the line. The line must be straight on its length as well as its vertical grade within the "raking" ability of that style. Some styles of fence permit "raking" while others do not. How much a style will rake, depends on the style. If the LINE of fence exceeds the raking limitation, the line must terminate at that point of change. An example: If you look down the line from the end across the top of the fence, it appears to be perfectly straight, left and right, along its length, but the fence rises and lowers vertically to compensate for ground grade changes, that vertical change might require a termination and end that LINE of fence. In this example, the fence could be perfectly straight both horizontally as well as vertically for the first 50'. At that point there is a slope that declines 1' over every 6'. That point of vertical direction change might require a terminal post, because the fence changed direction. If the raking ability of the fence is less than 12" over 72", a terminal is required and the LINE of fence is 50' for the first portion of the fence. See stair-stepping for how to handle that.


  • An intermediate post in a LINE of fence. These posts are all the posts between the terminals. In most cases, a section of fence does not include a line post for pricing purposes.


  • A gate that hangs from an overhead track, usually an I-beam. The trolleys that ride on the track have two wheels that sandwich the beam so they will not come off the track. No part of the gate touches the ground. The bottom is kept inline with guides attached to the posts.


  • The installation of fence sections that allows the top and bottom of the fence to follow the grade. To rake a section requires tipping it out of square so it is a parallelogram without any right-angled corners. It allows pickets to be vertical and the posts to be plumb, but the top and bottom rail will not be level. This is the easiest fence installation, but the sections must allow raking and some styles either limit raking or have no ability to rake at all. Advantages of raking as opposed to stair stepping are ease of installation, a more natural look following ground contours and less space under the fence. To get a quick, novice evaluation of a styles ability to rake, use this as a guide. Fence styles with spaces between pickets will rake more than solid styles. Fences installed without using prefabricated fence sections can be installed to grade more easily. Fences with large square surfaces, such as those with lattice panel tops, are nearly impossible to rake, without major surgery, and are not practical to rake.


  • A sliding gate that uses a leading front roller or wheel to hold the gate latch-end off the ground and the rear of the gate is supported by wheels or rollers off the ground by mounting on posts, columns or walls. This gate will cost more than a swing gate, but less than a cantilever gate. Since a leading wheel or roller is used, the ground must be level and firm, as in an asphalt or a concrete surface. Not popular in ice and snow climates for that reason.

SECTION of fence

  • The fence between two posts. Sections can consist of horizontal rails and vertical pickets, in the case of wood or vinyl fence. With wire fence, section simply implies that portion of the fence between any two posts.


  • A gate with one leaf. For our purposes implies a hinged gate as opposed to a sliding gate.


  • Too ambiguous. Could be any of the ones mentioned elsewhere here. Listed here because so many people use the term.


  • The installation of a section of fence where the sections are near level, but the adjacent section is installed higher or lower than the first, so that the top of the fence appears like stair steps. Each section can stair step a different amount than the others, as a declining grade is negotiated. This is in contrast to a line of fence that is "raked", so that each section is even with the last, but the sections are installed out of square leaving the posts and pickets vertical.


  • A post that ends or starts a LINE of fence. Examples: Corner post, end post, stair-step post, or gate post. In some cases as in chain link fences, a terminal may be required to break a line into segments less than 500' because the chain link can not be stretched in one single piece over a longer distance. Stretch post is a common term to use in this case, which is a terminal post also.


  • A rolling gate that uses angle iron as a track mounted in the driveway. The angle iron is faced with the corner straight-up and a V-grooved leading roller rides on the track. Not popular in severe winter climates due to fouling of the track and wheel.

There are other types of gates for special purpose applications, but these are the most common.


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Revised: September 6, 2015 .