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In the world of fencing, it’s the age-old question…

Backyard Privacy Fence Metal Posts“What side of the privacy fence faces out?”

Sometimes phrased another way, the question is asked – who gets the good side, and who get’s the bad side?

Well in this post.

We’re going to answer that question.

But the answer is not as cut and dried as one might think.

First off, let’s start with a few basics.

What is the “Good” Side of a Privacy Fence?

In truth, there really is no good or bad side to a fence.

But for our purposes, let’s cover the generally accepted definition of these terms.

When people refer to the good side of the fence…

They typically mean the side that does not show the horizontal rails between posts.

In other words, the good side is one that gives you a uniform finished look.

Usually, the good side of the fence is smooth, as in the case of your typical vertical privacy fence.

Here’s the smooth side of a horizontal wood privacy fence.

Wooden Privacy Fence

Sometimes, however, the good side of the fence is not smooth.

But it is uniform-looking, as in the case of a board-on-board fence.

Here’s an example of a board-on-board fence.

With rails and posts on the back.

Board on Board Fence Being Stained

Now, let’s take a look at the other side.

It Might Not Be as Pretty, But…

The back side of a privacy fence doesn’t look too bad.

Although it’s often referred to as the “bad” side or the “ugly” side.

The back side of the fence is the one that shows horizontal rails between posts.

Here’s an example of the fence side with rails and posts.

Wooden Fence Metal Posts

That fence doesn’t look too bad…

If we do say so ourselves. 🙂

Which Way Should the Good Side Face?

Now, onto the question…

Which side of the fence should face your yard and which side should face your neighbor’s yard?

The Pretty Side Out

When a new fence is installed, typically, the “pretty” side faces out away from your yard.

The pretty side faces your neighbor’s yard, the street, alley, etc.

Why you might want your fence this way:

  • The smooth side of the fence looks better, and it looks more finished from the road
  • If you face the smooth side out on the back of your property, it looks more uniform from inside your yard if the sides also face out toward your neighbor’s yards
  • When the smooth side of the fence faces out, your property is more secure, as that side of the fence is harder to climb
  • It might seem like a small thing, but you control fence post maintenance (or lack thereof) when the posts are on your side

Stained Wood Fence

The Ugly Side Out

Again, there are no hard and fast rules.


There are times where you may want to install the ugly side facing out.

Why you might want your fence this way:

  • Maybe you are replacing an existing fence, and you want to match the way it was originally installed to not raise any hassles with neighbors
  • Maybe the neighborhood has the back of their fences all installed smooth side in
  • Maybe the back of your property faces the woods or some other area that will not have people looking at your fence

Fences That Look Good on Both Sides

Some fence designs look uniform on both sides.

They do cost a little bit more, but the bonus is that both you and your neighbor both get the pretty side.

Here are a few examples.

Cap & Trim Fence

Fence on a Slope

Shadow Box Fence

Shadow Box Fence

Custom X Fence

X Wooden Fence Design

Double-sided Fence

Wood Privacy Fence Set up

FenceTrac Fencing

Backyard Weather Resistant Fence

Talk to Your Neighbors

In any case, we recommend talking to your neighbors about your new fence when part of it is shared.

It’s best to gain consensus about how the fence will be installed prior to installation.

Also, carefully review your HOA guidelines (if applicable) to be sure your new fence falls within those guidelines.

We hope this post has helped you decide which way to arrange your fence.

If you need any help deciding, let us know.

Let Empire Help

If you are building a new privacy fence.

We’d love to help you find the right fence that fits your style and your budget.

Contact us to discuss privacy fence cost and design options.

We’ll be glad to help!

Contact Empire Fence

As a regional leader in residential and commercial fencing, Empire Fence of Tulsa is here to help… by providing professional service at an affordable price. We’ll be glad to help you with repairs or installation of a new fence. Contact Empire to get a quote ›