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The basics of building a fence for your backyard


The basics of building a fence for your backyard

Building a fence around your property is a great idea for security, privacy, and even esthetics, but it is not as easy as many people think. Using a carpenter or fence builder is the easiest option, but if you want to try it yourself here is a fence building guide for you to use. 


As a courtesy let your neighbors know what you intend to do, they may feel a fence is inappropriate, but at least you will have given them fair warning. It is also worth checking if there are local regulations about the fence you intend to build. You need to decide on the height of your fence and the way you will install your posts and panels, and then decide whether you want to use nails or screws. If you have all this information it is easier to build your shopping list. 

Marking Your Fence 

After clearing the area you will work in and making sure the ground is level enough to work on, you will need to mark out the lines you fence will take. Put a stake in the ground where your fence will start, and mark everything from here. Your measurements will need to be precise or you will encounter all sorts of problems later, so double check everything. After measuring your panels, run a line up to the first corner and set another stake (this can be fine-tuned before concreting the posts). Use the line to stake out each post after measuring the panel that will fill the gap. Not all panels are the same size so working individually will ensure the proper distance. Continue this method from corner to corner around your property. After marking, you may find that you lose a little of the ground around your property unless you want to start cutting panels to fill a one foot gap. 

Setting Your Posts 

There are several methods of setting your posts. You could simply hammer sharpened posts into the ground, use Metal post fixings, or concrete the posts in. Personally, I would always concrete; it is more secure, and easier to ensure plumb fittings. Obviously, you will need to dig the holes (which can be hard work), but once this is done the rest is straightforward. Make sure you dig deep enough to have 1/3 of your post height below ground, and make sure your post is four inches longer than needed above ground (more if on a slant). You will need to set the first post and the first corner before the others, and then string a line between them as a guide for the other posts. Put some gravel at the bottom of your hole and make sure your post (pre-treated) is plumb and squarely aligned with the string. After filling the hole with concrete, check plumb and alignment again and support with wood fitted to stakes in the floor. Once the ends of your run are done, you can fill in the middle at the stakes you have previously measured (re-measuring all the time).  

Fixing Your Panels 

After at least 24 hours you can start to fix your panels, and I suggest fixing directly to the posts as I do not like the gaps that metal fixings create. I would also suggest drilling holes for your galvanized screws to stop the wood splitting. Apart from this, as long as you have been measuring properly throughout the construction, the panels should be a very straightforward job. To get a level top edge you can string a line from corner to corner of the run and line your panels up to the string and screw into place. 

Finishing Off 

After tightening string between main posts you can now cut your posts to the height you want and fit some post caps. Your final job will be to treat the wood you have used. Using pre-treated wood is always a great idea, but adding more protection can only be a good idea.  

If you have followed all these instructions, you should now have a fence to be proud of, and one that will last you for years to come. 


By: Neil Purnell

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