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Fences, you might be surprised at the many types of fences you can put in your landscape and the many uses fences really have. Fences define property lines and keep children or animals in the yard. Fences, complement other backyard amenities like decks and arbors, and also provide security and privacy for things like pools and spas. It is amazing what they can do for your yard for privacy, for planting and so much more around your lawn area.

Building a FenceWhen thinking about putting a fence around your lawn area for privacy you should look at fences that are going to last a long time, and that have a style that is both attractive and functional. Fences are available not only in wood and in plastic, but also in iron and aluminum. Treated woods, and plastics are going to last a long time but the overall cost of the fence is also very important to most folks.

Many homeowners save money by building their own fence. You don’t have to be a carpenter to build a nice looking wood fence. A fence can really be quite simple to build.

Here are some tips for successful fence building:

1. Designing the fence: Most fences are variations of a simple post, rail and board design. The post and rail support structure is made of standard dimension lumber, while fence boards of different shapes and sizes give a fence its individual style. You can also add style by adding a top section out of a scalloped board or lattice.

2. Choosing quality materials: Most fences are built with “garden grades” of PT lumber. These rugged grades are economical and provide the best combination of performance and value. It is important to use the proper nails for PT lumber. They need to be hot galvanized non-corrosive nails and all hardware needs to be galvanized or painted to avoid unsightly stains.

Building a Fence3. Setting posts: Setting posts is the most critical part of the job. They must be straight and evenly spaced, which requires patience and lots of measuring. As a rule, you should set fence posts about 6′ to 8′ apart no more than 8’ center to center. The spacing of the posts depends on the type of fence you build, the terrain, the purpose of the fence, and other such factors. Set the corner or end post first. Then stretch a line from each corner or end post to align all the posts in between. Drive a stake every 6′ to 8′ at the exact position where the post hole is to be dug. Take time to measure and position the posts accurately. The appearance and the structural strength of your fence depends a great deal on the positioning of the fence posts.

Digging the post holes can be a big challenge depending on the type of soil you’re digging in and the number of obstacles (trees etc.) in your way. Depending on the soil you could use a hand auger to dig the holes. I prefer to use a one man power auger. A two man power auger may sound easier but it isn’t. The other option is to have someone come in and set the posts for you. The hole needs to be 3 – 4’ deep depending on frost and your posts should have some cement under it 6” and around it at least half way up. After filling the hole with cement backfill the rest of the hole with dirt packing it as you fill it and making sure it stays plumb.

Building a Fence4. Attaching railings: Two or three horizontal rails run between the posts, depending on the fence height (for fences 4’ or under you need two rails, for more than 4’ high should have 3 rails). Upper rails normally rest on the tops of the posts for support but some fence style would put the top rail down and treat it more like a mid rail. Bottom or mid rails can be toe nailed into place. Some people use special rail brackets but I prefer to just toe nail them in.

Building a Fence5. Nailing fence boards: Nailing the fence boards in place is the easiest and most satisfying part of building a fence and gives you the finished look. For fence boards four inches wide or less, use one nail per rail. For wider fence boards, use two nails in each rail.

For more details on building or fixing a fence check out How to repair a wooden fence.

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2 Responses to “Five Easy Steps to Building a Fence”

Thanks for posting about this, I would like to read more about this topic.

I have been needing to do this and was not quite sure where to start. Thanks for the help.