Haunted House Fencing
I wanted something else out front to add atmosphere, but also to keep kids from wandering up on the lawn.  Mission accomplished, it seems.



Oh, now that's just awesome.

Here's the completed fence on Halloween night with the fog machine and cooler going good.  The light in the center of the frame is from a bike cop (because our neighborhood literally gets traffic jams from people trucking their kids in).


The parents of the Trick or Treaters wait on the sidewalk.  They're too scared to venture up to the house.

Viewed from the front.  True, it wouldn't keep a kid out, but it seems to serve as a barrier that says "Look but don't touch" just like Lindsey Lohan's substance abuse.

So how did we build it?  My first piece of advice where anything Halloween-related is concerned: Did you check Craigslist?

I picked up these pallets for free, and there's always more where these came from.  As soon as I started this project, I found more than I could ever use by the sides of the road.


It isn't entirely as clear in this shot as I'd hoped to make it, but I'm trying to show that I cut the ends of the boards with a circular saw rather than hammering them free*.  After that, they can be twisted about the nails in the middle to rip them off, usually by hand.

*However, missteps with the hammer often yield chipped and broken boards, which is what I was looking for anyway.


Here's what's left.  In the center of the frame are the boards with the runners sitting off to the side.  I threw the latter away.

The nice thing about pallet wood is it's already weathered and warped, much more so than the lumber I had originally intended to purchase.


The collection.  I ended up with far more wood than I needed for just the few fence lengths I planned to build, so I see additional projects somewhere down the line.  Don't know what they'll be yet, but I just know it.

Next we bought some 8' 1x4s as the runners and attached the "pickets" haphazardly across them.  As always, I'm using sheetrock screws because me and hammers don't get along.

Once they were assembled, we put a messy coat of black paint across everything.  This contrasts nicely with the white house this was going in front of.

We* brushed on just a single coat, but I also followed that with some black spray paint to darken areas that were too uneven or too light to be properly scary.  The advantage of spray paint is that you can shade things as desired.

*We = Yes, I'm taking the pictures but I painted the other side plus did all the touch-ups.


A close-up on the wood.  Note that even though I was buying quality wood, I picked up only the nastiest pieces, ones with bark still on them, etc.  Home Depot owes me for thinning their worst stock.

An assembled length of the fencing placed in the back yard until October 1st when we put them up.

The spikes at the bottom are to hammer into the ground.  More about that below.


Laid out to figure out how to best position them.

I detached the stakes to make it easier to hammer them without fear of hitting the fence.

In this pic, I'm hammering a length of rebar to prime the hole where the next stake will go.  Rock the bar back and forth and it widens the hole enough that the resistance is just enough to hold the stake steady on its way into the ground.

Turned out the stakes really didn't need to go as deep as I'd planned (and I probably couldn't have gotten them that deep anyway without destroying them in the process), so the paint doesn't extend all the way to the ground yet.  Touch-ups followed with the aforementioned spray paint.


I took a different approach the next year and instead used rebar rods with U-bolts/brackets to hold the fence in place.  I cut the rods to ~3' each and only used two per section of the fence, and that was more than adequate to hold them up for the whole month.  In fact, the fence is actually suspended slightly above the ground, though it isn't obvious with the uncut grass.

Here's the view from the opposite (street) side.  I put a little black spay paint on them so they wouldn't stand out.  At night you'd never notice them.

I also used these on the gravestones this year but didn't have to paint them because I place piles of rocks at the base of those where the bracket is.


And here's the fence finally planted in its place.

And at night.
Update for 2009: I added another (i.e., 4th) length of fencing to the lot.  Our intention was to have it wrap around the corner to keep Trick or Treaters from cutting across the driveway and through the yard possibly messing up the decorations (or getting caught in the spider's web of electrical wires to all the lights we added this year).  Instead I pretty much just had the extra one run diagonally across the corner of the yard.

Update for 2012: It depends on the size boards you end up with, but using 1x4s for the runners and pallet boards for the vertical members, I found that 1.25" screws were the best.  Even 1 and 5/8" screws poked through just a bit, and you want to avoid that so no one gets scratched on them.  It also makes it easier to store them because they stack more neatly and slide across one another when you don't have anything sharp sticking into the next one.  I tried cutting the original screws down with an angle grinder to make them flush, but you can never get it quite there, and the remainder is just as sharp as the original tip.

We swapped out most (about 2/3) of the screws in the fences for the proper 1.25" ones during Halloween 2012.  I didn't get around to that until the day after Halloween when we were actually getting ready to take the fence down.  We worked until dark, then just gave up at that point and put it away until next year.

Another tip: The best placement for the U-bolts is in one of the fence boards and and right through the runner.  Get ones that are just long enough to go through both boards and still have a little room to reach the rebar.  This helps hide the rebar and keep it on the inside of the fence.  Anywhere else, and you'll see it.  I usually have 9 boards per 8' unit, so I place the U-bolts on the 2nd one in from either end.



Copyright 2008-2009, 2012 the Ale[x]orcist.
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