The Basics of Fence Installation

A fence is a barrier made of wood or wire supported by posts. Before installing a fence, consider long-term maintenance costs. Check out this website at for more details.

Clear your yard ahead of time to prevent obstructions, and give yourself or the installation team ample space to work. It’s also a good idea to get your property surveyed.

1. Posts

fence installation

Posts are the backbone of any fence, and it’s essential to choose them carefully. For most fences, you’ll want to use treated wood posts at least 2 inches in diameter. They should also be a minimum of 50mm above ground to help prevent rotting.

When choosing wood posts, look for a label that reads “CCA treated” or similar to ensure the lumber has been protected against termites and other wood-destroying insects. Using the right type of wood can help prevent rot, as well–look for long-lasting species like Redwood or Osage Orange.

Although setting a post in concrete can provide the most stability, it isn’t necessary for every post. You’ll only need a concrete footing for posts that support gates or are freestanding at the end of your fence, or when rock prevents digging deep enough to set a post. If you do decide to pour a concrete footing, you’ll need a wheelbarrow and some quick-drying concrete.

Before starting to dig holes, make sure your fence site is clear of buried wires, utility lines, or other obstructions. Also, check the area for any building restrictions or permits you may need to secure before beginning construction.

Prepare the site by marking off where each fence post will go, using stakes and string to help you create a straight line between your marks. Space each fence post about 6 to 8 feet apart. Be sure to dig each post hole at least 1 foot deeper than the frost line to avoid shifting or warping in winter.

Mix your concrete as per the instructions on the package, and then pour it into each hole. Some people prefer to use a hose to add water as they’re pouring the concrete, but this isn’t necessary if you use the right product. Once the concrete is poured, let it set for a day or two before installing your fence panels.

2. Rails

While many people think of fences as being composed solely of pickets, the reality is that fences need rails as well to provide stability and support. While it is technically possible to build a fence without rails, the end results are not very good and the structure will likely fail much sooner than one that has rails.

While there are a few different ways to construct a fence, a rail-and-post method is the most common. This type of fence requires more labor and planning but is extremely durable. It also provides the added benefit of being able to install gates with a minimum amount of fuss.

To start, use stakes and string to mark out your fence line, indicating where you’ll need any gates or openings and making sure that everything lines up properly. This step is crucial for avoiding major problems down the road and saving time.

Next, dig your post holes according to the size of your chosen posts. You should always go slightly larger in depth than you need, since a hole that is too small will become weak and potentially collapse under the weight of the posts and boards.

When installing the posts, make sure that you leave a good six inches of space between the ground and the bottom of the post to allow for water drainage and prevent wood rot. Once the posts are set, add a few inches of gravel and back fill, compressing it firmly around the base of the posts.

At this point, you can also opt to put in a concrete slab around the posts for added strength and stability. Once the posts and gravel are in place, you can begin to lay out your rails. If you’re going with a standard two-rail design, it’s important to note that your bottom rail should be at least six inches above the ground to keep it away from any soil moisture and protect it from rotting.

3. Slats

Once the posts have been fixed into position and any concrete footings have set hard, the next step in fence installation is to assemble and secure the slats to the frame. Slats are available in a range of finishes, colours and styles to suit your property’s aesthetic.

Generally, they’re easy to install. The slats sit in a channel on the inside of the fence wall and are secured using a single screw or rivet through the channel, on the rear side of the wall. This allows you to create a customised look for your fence and minimises any visual gap between the slat and the channel.

To avoid scratching your slats against the wall, you may want to consider lubricating the ends with some soapy water or grease before installing them. This can also make installation easier and reduces the chance of a gap appearing between your slat and the channel.

Before installing the slats, it’s good to restretch your guide string and check that each post grade mark is accurate. Especially important for end, corner and gate posts.

For long spans, it may be necessary to add a vertical brace for extra stability. Your slat supplier will advise you on this.

If you’re installing a chain link fence, it’s good to ensure that you have the correct number of hook-ups for the length of your fence. Each slat has one ‘hook-up’, meaning that it attaches to a line post, either an end or corner post. If you don’t have the correct number of hook-ups, it will be very difficult to secure the slats.

4. Gates

If you’re going to include gates in your fence, make sure to choose a gate that matches the style of your fencing. This will create a cohesive look and feel, especially if you’re using wood gates. Redwood and cedar are premium options that last a long time and resist rotting and pests, while Douglas Fir and Cypress are more budget-friendly choices that still hold up to the elements.

To install the gates, you’ll need hinges and latch hardware. Look for sturdier hardware, as this will offer more durability over time. Also, consider purchasing self-closing latches to ensure your gates stay shut.

Before mounting the hinges, rest your gate face down on two pieces of scrap timber, with a gap left either side for opening and closing. This will prevent the gate from rubbing against the posts when it opens and closes. Then, screw the hinges in place and brace the gate with three lengths of timber to keep it secure while you finish the construction.

Dig post holes for your gates a spade and a half wide and deep, or slightly longer if you live in a frosty area. This will help keep the footers below the frost line and prevent the posts from heaving over time. Then, fill the holes with concrete to prevent your gate from being pulled down by the weight of snow or heavy rain.

You can also build a gate with slats or pickets to add a rustic charm to your fence design. For example, you can use a mix of different-colored slats to add color and contrast to your home or garden. Alternatively, you can choose a solid-looking board for the gate that will match your fence’s slats.

5. Postholes

When building a fence, proper placement of the posts is critical. Start by marking the location of each post with wooden stakes or an eco-friendly marker. Then, run a length of twine between them to create a perfectly straight line. This will allow you to dig the post holes in a straight, even row. Ideally, each fence post should be set at least 6 feet apart. This will help keep your new fencing secure and prevent your pet or children from escaping the yard.

When digging your post holes, make sure you’re not encroaching on any neighbors property lines. Before starting any work, check the deeds to see who is responsible for the boundary in question and then contact your utility company to locate any underground pipes or cables. Often these are marked by flags or painted in bright colors, making it easy to identify before you begin digging.

Use a post hole digger to dig a hole that’s at least a third of the length of your fence post deep and three times the width of the post. This will ensure your post is stable, and it’ll also help prevent moisture damage. It’s also a good idea to add a layer of gravel to each hole before pouring concrete in them to aid water drainage and prevent any potential problems with rot or rust.

After the holes are dug, use a wheelbarrow or bucket to mix fast-setting concrete according to the instructions on the bag. Some concretes can be poured directly into the holes, while others require dry mix to be placed in the hole before adding water. Once the concrete is poured, it should be smoothed with a trowel and allowed to set before continuing with the rest of the project.