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What are the Different Types of Fence Finials?

K.C. Bruning
Updated May 16, 2024
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Fence finials, also known as fence post caps, come in a wide array of styles and materials. Their designs can range from simple and utilitarian to extravagant and ornate. Fence finials are also available in several kinds of materials, including wood, plastic, iron, and aluminum.

The shape of the fence finial will depend on the purpose for which it was chosen. They can be flat, round, pointed, or molded into an elaborate design. Designs can also be of specific objects and creatures, such as a fleur-de-lis or animal. Fence finials range from purely ornamental designs with elaborate detail to more forbidding varieties such as pointed metal designs for increasing security.

Fence finials can serve more than ornamental purposes. They can help to extend the life of wooden fences by protecting the top of the post from the absorption of environmental elements such as moisture. Pointed designs on metal fences not only provide security from intruders by making it more difficult to climb over, but also prevent birds from sitting on the fence.

Traditionally, fence finials were made of either wood or iron. These materials are more commonly used for fences that have an ornamental, in addition to a utilitarian, purpose. Modern materials include less expensive options such as plastic, aluminum, and artificial wood. These materials are typically used for more utilitarian purpose and thus tend to have less elaborate fence finials.

The type of fence finial is usually decided by the style, material, and purpose of the fence. Typically, a fence finial is made of the same material as the fence. This is desirable both from a style standpoint and for ease of installation and maintenance, though using a different material can have a striking effect. The fence finial also tends to be in the same style as the fence it tops, be it utilitarian, ornamental, or both.

How many and what variety of finials a fence has usually depends on the number of posts and the type of material. Wooden fences tend to have fewer finials because the posts are situated between larger expanses of slats. These kinds of fences typically have either the same fence finial at each post or two different, more ornamental finials on the gate posts. Metal fences with vertical poles can have a finial on top of each one. They could all be the same style, though the finials on the posts may be larger and more elaborate.

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K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including HomeQuestionsAnswered. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.
Discussion Comments
By cloudel — On Jan 18, 2012

My garden fencing desperately needed some finials. The aluminum posts were hollow, and I'm surprised that the company that built the fence for me didn't put any sort of cap on them.

I was afraid that rainwater would collect inside the posts and ruin them. I also thought that small animals might get trapped in there and die. So, I went shopping for some finials.

Decoration wasn't my purpose, so I went for some basic round finials. They look like knobs, and I can easily put my gardening gloves over them to dry out after I wash the dirt off of them. They keep all moisture out of the hollow centers, too.

By OeKc05 — On Jan 17, 2012

@Perdido – I had the same problem with my aluminum fencing. I had spray-painted it dark green, so bird poop showed up much too well on the surface.

I wanted something besides simple pointed finials. I found some fleur-de-lis finials that looked great with my fence at a garden center, and I bought them and spray-painted them green to match.

I haven't seen any birds trying to land on top of these. I never had problems with intruders in the past, but now, I really doubt I will. It would be pretty uncomfortable to scale over the tip of a hard fleur-de-lis!

By Perdido — On Jan 16, 2012

I have a wood fence that once just had flat-topped posts. However, I had so many problems with birds pooping down them that I decided to get some matching finials.

My fence is made of cedar, and it is a very pretty brown color. You can see the texture of the wood, because all I did was stain it. I hated seeing nasty white bird poop on my beautiful fence every day.

I chose some cedar finials that are s-shaped, but on the top curve of the s is a point that rises up and flips back in the other direction. This does not provide a bird with an even surface to rest his toes. In fact, he would be sitting really lopsided if he were to perch here.

By wavy58 — On Jan 16, 2012

Though not pointy, my neighbor's fence finials are formidable looking to me. Her iron fence is black with black gargoyle finials, and they seem to scream, “Stay out!”

Not every iron post has a gargoyle finial. The majority of them simply have pointed finials, while only the highest ones at critical points have the gargoyles.

This matches the overall design. The large gate that opens to her driveway has a huge gargoyle head right in the center that perfectly matches the finials. This isn't very inviting, and I really hope I never have to go over there for any reason.

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
Learn more
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