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Fencing Installation Basics

Fence building is a popular project for homeowners and wood fences are the most common do-it-yourself fencing project. Other fences, especially ornamental and chain link fences, are much more difficult and nearly always require a professional contractor. It is essential to make certain of local fencing rules and regulations prior to installation.

Three Components of Installation

There are three main components to a wood fence and, subsequently, three main steps to installing a fence: the posts, rails, and fence boards. Posts are vital because they are carrying all the weight of the fence itself. Posts should be at least one-third buried beneath the ground in concrete or tamped-down soil. When installing a line of fencing, always set the two corner posts first, taking pains to make sure that they are plumb in all directions, and then run a string-line between the two in order to ensure that all post between are in a straight line. Posts should be set evenly at 6’-8’ apart.

Rails can attach to posts in a few different ways:

They may simply be toe-nailed or screwed

  • to the posts. Usually this is only recommended on smaller fences and often the top rail is run over the top of the post to ensure strength.
  • Metal brackets may be attached to posts in which the rails sit for support.
  • Posts may be mortised to allow the rail to join with the post fastener-free. This is a common practice in split rail fencing.

After the rails are installed the fence boards are secured to the rails and the fence is completed. Fence boards may be attached via galvanized nails or screws. Board style and length will vary depending on the design characteristics of the fence.

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