Fences are an integral part to your home, as they can provide both security and additional aesthetic appeal. When crafting your own fence, it is important to keep these things in mind.
Things to Consider Before Building a Fence
So, you’ve decided to build your own fence, but before you get started, there are several things that you have to take into consideration to make sure that this process goes smoothly. It’s better to go into the project prepared and informed to make sure you don’t run into any snags.
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There are certain restrictions that can be put on by local planning departments and/or neighborhood associations when it comes to building fences. You wouldn’t want to build something only to have it taken down, so check local restrictions before beginning.
Once you’ve seen that things are clear restriction-wise, the next step would be to acquire a building permit for it. A permit usually allows you to ensure that you don’t accidentally hit any local utility lines once you start digging for and building your fence.
Apart from your own aesthetic tastes, you have to also consider what fencing material would last well given the circumstances of the area that you’re building it in. Great quality wood fences can last a long time if treated well, but bad quality ones won’t get you past 5 years.
There are several styles of fences that are available, which isn’t surprising given that they can also act decorative, aside from being just a security feature of your home. Each of the different styles have their own unique look and method of building. So, choose carefully so that you won’t end up regretting your choices.
Fences should be located right on your property line and you are able to hire a land surveyor to mark it for you. That way, you won’t go over your property line and face some legal repercussions over it.
Factors that would affect the height you choose for your fence would be: purpose and city height ordinances. You have to decide this early, since it also determines how deep your dug holes should be.
After all the vital details have been determined, you are able to begin measuring for your fence. As mentioned above, it’s usually located on your property line. Take note that other considerations should be made in the event that you share a property line with a neighbor. If this happens, make sure that agreements are made over the shared property line and that this agreement is in writing. Be considerate and don’t unnecessarily block your neighbor’s views.
Next, mark the corners of your planned fence. Even when you’re still in the visualization phase, it helps make your plans more concrete when you mark off the limits of your fence. You are able to put stakes (wood or metal is fine) to mark corners and planned breaks in the fence - like for a gate or an entrance. Square the corners using string and a square-level to ensure that your lines are straight.
After establishing the corner posts, it’s time for you to mark the middle posts. These are where your support posts are going to be located. Their purpose is to make your fence look even, as well as to make it structurally sound. The way you are able to get this is by dividing even total distances by 8, or adding 1 to odd numbered ones and dividing by the total length to get equal sections.
Buy the Materials
Once you’re set on the measurement and visualizing front, it’s time for you to buy the materials. Apart from the durability and longevity, other factors that could affect the material you’re going to get for your fence is the intended purpose, chosen design and decorating intentions.
A fence meant to provide privacy will have different material requirements as compared to one which is being built to prevent critters from getting into your yard. You also have to think about whether you’re planning to get treated lumber, or paint on it when you choose your materials.
You must purchase your materials from hardware and lumber stores that can be trusted. Only go for the best quality, even if it means you’re spending more. For one thing, you’re sure that they’re getting the materials legally and that they can be trusted when it comes to the quality and durability of the fence materials that they are selling.
To save up on costs, pick up the materials yourself if you have a truck, or borrow one from a friend if you are able to. Delivery usually comes with a fee if you ask the store to deliver it to your home themselves.
Determine the Space of the Posts
It is important to determine the spacing of the fence posts because this is in order to determine the length of the coverage of the posts.
Most often, people set the posts at 6 to 8 feet apart, depending on how wide they want to set the fence and then work on the corner posts first. This is so that you are able to use the corner posts as guides and to ensure that all the posts in between are aligned and upright.
Make sure you mark every space you’d like to dig each hole for your posts in. Once you’ve determined the spaces, make sure that the places you’ve marked to dig your holes are free from any obstructions. This is so that digging the holes and placing the posts do not become difficult in the future.
Dig the Holes
Afterwards, begin to dig the holes for your fence. A specific tool is used for this, called a post-hole digger. Dig holes on the marked areas that you staked and ideal hole depth is 33% of the fence height. However, a few extra inches added to that 33% isn’t such a bad idea either. As for width, there should be enough room around the post once you put it in the hole.
The depth of your holes can also be affected by the soil conditions - which vary from place to place - as well as the type of fence that you are planning to build. If the soil in the area that you’re going to be fencing is rocky, then a post-hole digger may not be enough. Look into getting an auger to help dig the ground more effectively. Bigger augers require more men to hold it in place when it’s working.
If this is the case, it would help to have assistance when you’re building the fence. If you prefer, you are also able to have it done professionally under your supervision.
If your home is in an area that experiences snow, another important consideration is that the bottom of your post holes should be located before the frost line. If it’s above or right on the frost line, then your fence could get loosened during the winter.
Set the Fence Posts
When setting the fence posts, remember - as mentioned previously - to make sure that the length of the post is at least 33% below ground when you place them in the holes. Always treat the wood so that the materials last longer and you don’t have to worry about your fence breaking down so easily.
Depending on what you prefer, bury the posts in either dirt or concrete. Once again, to ensure that your posts are aligned and straight, use a level. To completely make sure that your posts are settled while they set, we recommend that stake them. Once they’re all set, you must cover them in dirt before applying the concrete mound to prevent water damage.
Always add extra support on the corners, because they are the guides to the fence. Leave the fence posts to set for a few more days and after that, place caps on top of the posts. This is an important step, which is why you have to set your posts properly. This is because improper setting can reduce the chances of your fence being able to last for very long.
When setting, always consider the materials you’re using for the fence, because certain wood structures are more sensitive to treatment. This is why you must be careful not to overtreat or undertreat - if necessary, get advice from a professional to treat and set the posts of your fence for you.
Add the Rails
To add the rails, add them to the top and bottom of the fence posts. For extra stability, add a “butt joint” to seal the railing to the body of the post. A butt joint is a wood structure where you are able to align the ends of the rails. It is also a kind of security that the fence you’re building will be a strong structure.
Be very sure that the top and bottom rails of the posts are properly aligned before setting them. This is to ensure that the fence structure is sturdy and won’t break. Moreover, make sure to treat the rails so that the materials last longer. Also, be sure that the bottom rails are at a minimum of 2 inches from the ground. Rails are necessary in making the fence more stable, which is why they are vital in building a fence.
The spacing between rails shouldn’t exceed 24 inches, which is why most fences require 2-3 boards, depending on the length of the posts. The standard dimensions of railings are 2x4 feet; this is vital to know because you have to consider the size of your posts, as well and how many rails you will need for your fence posts.
If you aren’t sure about the height and width of your fence posts, consult with a professional to help you determine the dimensions and so that it doesn’t become a hassle in the future. Inquire for help from hardware store managers, or people with experiences in carpentry - they are usually easy to approach and can give recommendations on the materials and lengths needed.
Add the Fence Boards
The style of the fence board is dependent upon the style of your fence. If you desire the basic wooden fence style, then go with a simple fence board; this allows you to view the seamless vertical design of the boards. As soon as your support boards are set in place, you must now attach your pickets, or your privacy boards.
There are various styles on how you are able to do this - it depends on the design of your fence. First, place the board and then level it with a vertical level - this process is called “plumb.” After which, secure the board in place with either a nail or a screw. If you decide to secure with a nail by hand, use the 8d spiral shank galvanized nails for easy installation.
When placing the next board, use a spacer so that the spaces between the boards are even and occasionally use the level to ensure that the boards are vertically aligned. Standard sizes for these boards are 2x6 rough sawn lumber, but you are able to purchase pre-cut fencing boards, as well, if you’re not up to cutting the boards yourself.
A good way to ensure that the boards are straight is to check the plumb every 10th board. You are also able to keep track of this by placing a string by two boards to ensure that the plumb is straight. If you feel as though the boards are not aligned or straight, make sure to use a plumb level and adjust accordingly.
Another nifty joint for building a fence is the lap joint - it is a groove-cut joint that doesn’t need to be installed with a nail or screw. However, if you’re looking into a fence with a great finish, use a slotted joint. On the other hand, if you want a stronger structure, use a butt joint. If all else fails, ask for help from a professional because they can advise you on the alphabets of building fences - from design to type of joint structures.
Fence building requires quite a bit from you, but it is worth all the effort if it stands through time and the elements. If done right, adding a fence to your home usually adds to its overall appeal. Plus, depending on your intentions for building it, it can also serve as an effective barrier against threats to your home and household.