From Dan Harding on April 07, 2008 in Tools and Tips
There are many reasons why you might want to build a fence and do it yourself. Fence building is a common household project. It is not too complicated or time consuming and makes for a fun, outdoor project. However, before you run outside and start digging holes in the backyard, there are some fundamental rules of fence building that every homeowner should know.
1. Be ready
Know the exact locations of property lines, know required set backs from sidewalks, driveways, etc. Know any applicable city ordinances/codes regarding fence building; these are common and can have a profound effect on where and how you build your fence. Know all these things before you put your work gloves on.
2. Set posts straight and deep
Set corner posts first and run a string line from end to end to ensure that all your posts line up. Set posts at least 2’ deep and surround with concrete or tamped down dirt. They may need to be even deeper depending on the frost line where you live. Gate posts should be set even deeper and definitely use concrete to help the post carry the weight.
3. Space posts evenly and appropriately
Properly set posts are what guarantee a long life for your fence. Posts should be set at consistent intervals (usually 6’ to 8’). You don’t want too long of a span between posts. This may cause your rails to sag, thus pulling your fence down and eventually over.
4. Install fence boards correctly
If you are building a cedar fence you can purchase the boards from your local lumber store or fence company. DO NOT gap cedar fence boards when you install them. These boards always come wet and they will shrink as they dry, so butt them tight. For any fence, use hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel nails and use a string-line to set the top of each board so you’ll have a nice straight run.
5. Know your contractor
If you choose to have a contractor build your fence, then know who you are working with. Go over any details of the job with the owner or lead on site, not over the phone. Hire a local contractor if possible. Many large, retail outlets have fencing subcontractors they’ll hire out to do work and oftentimes they are unreliable and do low-quality work. You will have better luck with a local fencing contractor whom you may already know!