How to build a wooden fence

There are many reasons why one might need or want to build a fence: for safety, privacy, to mark a clear boundary, for improving the look of your property, keeping animals in an enclosure or keeping wildlife out of your garden. Although there are such a variety of styles for wooden fences, the basic steps to building a wooden fence are similar. Here are some useful tips to get you started:

Planning and Preparation:

  • Check bylaws and regulations in your area. Make sure that the fence you want to put up does not contradict any laws in your municipality or complex. There may be restrictions on where a fence can be erected and the height.
  • Choose the best wood for your needs. Decide which type of wood you would like to use and also which type of treatment will be necessary. (Our previous article on types of wood treatment may help.)
  • Decide on a style of fencing. There are various types to choose from: picket, lattice, post ‘n rail (ranch style), board on board and many others.
  • Also choose the height and length of fence you would like to go with, and order the correct amount of wood. Around 1,8m is normal for a privacy fence, a livestock fence only needs about 1,2m, and picket fences can be even lower at around 90cm.

Constructing the Fence:

  • Place stakes at the corners roughly where you wish your fence to go. Then tie string/rope around the stakes and string it between stakes.
  • Stake the middle posts. Measure out lengths of 20cm or less along the strings once you’ve squared your corners and stake those spots for your support posts.
  • Dig holes at the locations you staked. The posts need to be buried at least 33% as deep as they are tall (example: if the post is 150cm long, 50cm need to be underground).
  • Place the posts. Add a few centimeters of gravel at the base of the hole. Then insert the pole and get it straight. (You can use a post leveller.)
  • While holding the post in position add concrete mix into the hole around it. Add water from the top and stir it with a stick to mix the cement. Keep the post steady (with nailed boards if needed) until the concrete has set.
  • Fill the rest of the hole with soil after the concrete has set.
  • Add a builder’s/ mason’s line from one post to another so that your fence will have the same height throughout.
  • Add horizontal boards to go across the posts with decking screws. The horizontal support boards shouldn’t be more than 60cm apart, so most fences will have about 2 or 3 horizontal rails.
  • Finally add the privacy boards (also called vertical boards or pickets), which cover the fence. There are various options depending on the style you chose. For a basic board on board fence use a nail gun to attach the fence boards to the horizontal beams, with less than a board length between them.
  • Once your fence is done you could paint the fence of apply another weather proof finish. With good maintenance a sturdy wooden fence can last 20 years or more and add great value to your property.

If you need wood for building your fence, advice on how to construct it or assistance with measurements and working out quantities – our team at Die Pale Depot can help!

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