In the last post, we talked about using rackable panels to install your fence on a slope. Pre-Assembled rackable panels definitely make the job easier, but they are not always practical. First, they are not available for all fence types and styles. Second, rackable panels can only adjust so far. If your hill is angled by a larger degree than your fence panel will rack, you have to use a different installation strategy called stair-stepping.
What is stair-stepping?Stair stepping is a fence installation technique where each successive panel in your fence line is installed higher (or lower) than the last; creating a stepped look. This is accomplished by either custom routing your fence posts to fit the height of your panels or by using brackets attached to unrouted (blank) posts. The panels themselves require no adjustment.
As you can see from the illustration above, one drawback to stairstepping is that it creates gaps underneath your fence panels. If that is an issue for your application (ie. keeping children/animals in or out), there are a couple of ways to fix it First, you can build a solid barrier or use wire mesh to stop animals and children from crawling through the crack. The second solution is to actually create a concrete step under each panel so that the ground underneat is flat. (See the photo above).
As we mentioned in the introduction, sometimes stair-stepping is the best solution to installing a fence on a slope. It is also the only choice when installing one piece cast fence panels or panels that are welded together; neither of those are rackable. Or, it may simply be that you like the look of a stair-stepped fence; it can create an eye catching visage around stonework, landscaping, and pools.