Creative privacy fence - 11" outside a window
December 2, 2018 11:10 PM   Subscribe

The picture window in our living room looks out directly onto a rotting wood fence about 11" from our window, right on the property line. We need to replace the fence with something that maintains privacy from the industrial parking lot immediately across the parking lot, but perhaps also lets in as much light as possible and looks modern. What would you recommend? Bonus question, can we just replace the rotting portions of the fence and leave the posts (if they're solid)?

To make my fence even more difficult, we're also looking for something UV-resistant and moisture-resistant (hot sunny climate, but we have window boxes in the 11" that have dripped onto the fence, resulting in the rotting).

I was thinking gray horizontal vinyl?
posted by stewiethegreat to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Response by poster: ...that maintains privacy from the industrial parking lot immediately across the fence...

posted by stewiethegreat at 11:18 PM on December 2, 2018

This is a toughie—a fence 11" from your window is never going to be ideal. I'd be tempted to put a big sheet of mirror there (outside the window) to give more of an impression of space and help bring in light, although it might feel a bit weird to look out the window and see your own face. Failing that I'd paint some kind of mural on the fence, or I guess if you're not into murals I'd just go with white fencing to help bring light in. White will definitely give you more light than gray. Personally, I would find a wall of gray 11" from my kitchen window depressing.

I guess if rot-resistance is paramount, you're looking at some kind of plastic fencing. At least where I am, your options are pretty much vinyl or cedar for privacy fencing, and vinyl is obviously more rot-resistant than cedar. You could do something with pressure-treated lumber—a friend of mine did some beefy privacy fencing with 4x6 posts and 2x10 PT slats running horizontally between them, which I actually thought looked pretty good for what it was. You have to wait a year before painting PT though.

As far as reusing your posts, you probably can if you keep the same kind of fencing as before. If you're changing it up, all bets are off. For instance, if you're going to go with white vinyl with covers for the posts, they'll need to be 4x4 posts rather than round ones and also the covers might not slip on because the existing post will inevitably be somewhat warped.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:04 AM on December 3, 2018

Totally off the wall idea, but what about a window decal of a nice painting and having a light pipe that reaches above the fence to brighten the decal from behind? Would add extra light into the room and also make quite a feature of the picture window (literally in this case). Eleven inches isn't much to work with and while the mirror seems neat, I would get annoyed with motion as I walked past as well as sunlight shining into my eyes at vary specific times of the day. The light pipe would provide a more diffuse bright light and shining through a fancy window decal could add a flair to the dramatic.
posted by koolkat at 3:34 AM on December 3, 2018

A few ideas:

- Fixed horizontal louvers spaced to block a direct view. A fence version of this with tighter spacing.
- A glass block wall segment.
- Outdoor translucent panel. Polycarbonate is tough, fiberglass is pretty good but may crack if hit.
posted by tinker at 5:38 AM on December 3, 2018

Why not go with something more open (square lattice, or tall galvanized hog panels, or just high tensile wire fencing installed through existing posts), then train an attractive plant to climb. Would take some time, but you'd end up with a better view. Obviously depends on having access to decent dirt beneath, unless you're in a warm enough clime to plant in pots. The tensile option would give you your best access to your planting sites, which I assume would need to be in the 11" alley. And, of course, there's nothing that says the ivy has to be real, at least while the real stuff is establishing.
posted by bullatony at 6:39 AM on December 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

- Outdoor translucent panel. Polycarbonate is tough, fiberglass is pretty good but may crack if hit.

This would be my suggestion for both maintaining privacy and bringing in more light.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:48 AM on December 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

You could have the immediately-visible portion replaced with sandblasted tempered glass within a metal channel frame, which would be translucent and UV stable vs a film or vinyl/plastic/polycarb product. The rest of the fence could match or complement.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:06 AM on December 3, 2018

I would get a very light colored composite fence board to reflect as much light inside as possible. I'd also consider a window film that creates a frosted look to allow light in while not confronting you with a view of a close-up fence.
Indoor plants could go a long way toward creating a lush look without having to rely on outdoor plants in the small space you have between the fence and the window.
posted by quince at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2018

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