How to Build a Fence

Determine Your Purpose Why You Build a Fence

There are plenty of ways you can build a fence, and although home depot or Lowe’s will provide you with some initial information, I can give you the entire gist. Fence building is no walk in the park, but actually requires your time, money, and physical prowess. Pull out your pocketbook, calendar, and thinking cap, because this could take all day.

There’s no reason to go off on how to build a fence until you have successfully decided why you’re building it. If you have a dog that requires a fence, think of a secondary purpose. You don’t want to build your fence just for your dog, but for you as well. Once you have determined what you want to get out of this project, you can assess how much money you’re willing to dump in.

Calculate how much time and funds you can put into this fence project. This will tell you whether or not you need someone else to build the fence for you. If you realize that there’s no way you can get this fence done in the right season, then you might as well call around for quotes on a good deal. However, if you have put your foot down and you’re serious about building your own fence, then let’s get cracking.

Choose a Design When Start To Build a Fence

Just picking out which material you’re going to use isn’t enough these days, you also need to decide on a great design! If you’re going with wood check out solid, spaced, or shadowbox designs. If you want to go with vinyl try trellis or lattice work at the top. Choosing wrought iron? Find the best deal on a stylish flourish in the middle of each section. Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to design. Many times the difference between design and dull is a simple dime. It’s not always more expensive to include something a bit more personalized. Mix mediums, colors, and materials. Go with reclaimed barn wood for a rustic feel or bamboo for an eco-friendly alternative.

Contact the Proper Authorities When You Start To Build a Fence

It’s not as bad as it seems, but you want to get your homework done first. Contact your city to find out the laws and regulations in regards to having a personal property fence. After that hire a surveyor to accurately lay out your property line, you don’t want to accidentally take up a few inches of your neighbor’s yard. Finally, get a utilities guy to come out and mark the utilities around your home. You wouldn’t want to cut through a cable when digging a post hole.

Buy the Materials

Measure first, buy later. Measure out the length of your fence and this will determine how much material you need. Determine the spacing for end posts (also called terminal posts) and the posts in between. Choose the proper height for the type of fence you’re building. A typical picket fence is about 3-4 feet high whereas a privacy wooden fence can be 6 feet tall.

Realize that the type of fence you’re building will influence which materials you need to buy. If you are going to be tamping, plumbing, and filling holes, then you will need an odd assortment of materials. Soil, sand, cement, and gravel are just some of the items you will need to complete the project. Here is a list of tools you will also need for most types of fences:

  • Post hole digger
  • Carpenter’s level or plumb
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • String
  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Galvanized nails
  • Wood or metal or other fence material you are using as the actual fence
  • Linseed oil

Tip: Go with an electric post hole digger, the old fashioned kind is only good for a long hard workout in the sun and a bad back.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Now it’s down to the labor part. Here are the steps you will need to follow for a successful fence job:

  1. Mark terminal posts and inside posts
  2. Dig terminal posts
  3. Fill a few inches with gravel
  4. Insert terminal posts
  5. Plumb the posts
  6. Stabilize, fill, and tamp terminal posts
  7. Dig all other posts
  8. Fill a few inches with gravel
  9. Plumb the posts
  10. Stabilize, fill, and tamp all other posts
  11. Install railings if necessary
  12. Install side boards or posts if necessary
  13. Seal the wood exposed to the elements

This process can take a few days to complete. Take into account the amount of prep work involved as well. You will need to seal the end of the wooden posts before insertion into the hole to keep them from rotting. Seal the entire fence with linseed oil once you finish putting it up. You can even go the extra mile and actually wash the entire fence with a simple water and dish soap solution to help rid the wood of excess dirt and grime before sealing. Allow the fence an entire 24 hours to dry or more.

If you have built your fence to last, then it should last. Taking into account the slope of your land, the yearly climate, and your participation in the upkeep, the fence should have a long life. If you don’t want to go on this journey alone, contact a few good friends to help you out. My company started out as me and a few of my buddies building fences for our aging parents, but our meager hobby turned into a great startup business. Now we’re booming with requests for traditional and creative fence designs. I recommend studying fences in other cultures as well to really create some timeless fences.

The best of luck to you and your fence building my friend. You can always count on me to provide you with the perfect how-to when it comes to fences. Suggest more topics of consideration in the comments below.  As for me, it’s back to the drawing board, I have clients to keep up with!

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