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Wooden Fence Installation

Wooden Fence Installation

Installing a wooden fence is not an easy job, but it is hardly a complicated one. Given a reasonable amount of know-how, a few household tools, and some hard work you can produce a fence that will be the envy of your neighborhood. This article will outlay the basic steps involved in wooden fence installation. First, a list of tools to get you started. Be sure to have plenty of materials to complete the job, because interrupting the process at certain points can be detrimental to the finished product.

Tool List:
• Boards & Posts
• Power Saw
• Post Hole Digger
• Paint or Outdoor Stain
• Steel Tape
• Marking Pencil
• Small Axe or Hatchet
• Gravel or Sand
• Nails
• Hand Saw
• Hammer
• Work Gloves
• Level
• Ready-Mix Concrete
• Wood Chisel
• Tamping Rod
• Wood Preservative
• Plumb bob

This is not a complete list, depending on the degree of intricacy in your chosen style. You may also wish to use a cement mixer, power post-hole digger, or even a small tractor to level the site, dig the holes, and move material to where they are needed. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, call a professional fence company. A fence is a lasting and significant addition to a property so you are best served to get it done correctly the first time. Posts should be tall enough to be sunk 24-30” in the ground and still reach the desired height (an 8’ fence requires a minimum 10’ post).

Step 1: Rough survey
The first step in any successful fence installation is to find the boundary pins and layout the fence line with string. Once you have the lines set, you must determine the location of the posts. Start at the corners, and set posts six to eight feet on center (measured to the center of the post). Now you must determine the both the size and location of any gates or other obstacles you will encounter.

Step 2: Setting the posts
If this is your first time building a fence, you may want to start at the back because slight imperfections are much easier to hide when they are further away. Walk the survey line and examine the post locations for large rocks, stumps, or anything else that could impede construction or damage equipment. Now you are ready to dig the post holes. Dig the holes as work progresses because if inclement weather intervenes the unset holes will fill with water or collapse entirely. It is also extremely important to keep the hole as near vertical as possible. Mix the concrete carefully according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You will need some scrap wood to brace the post while the concrete sets. This is extremely important on the first posts; and at the corners, because this is where you will center the whole line. Now pour two to three inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole to allow adequate drainage and prevent the post from rotting. Place the post in the hole carefully so as not to cave in the sides. Attach two braces on opposing sides and the plumb-bob near the top of the post where it can hang free. The post must be square on all three axis, and solidly braced before you pour the concrete. Once the concrete is poured, confirm the post is still in position, and begin digging the next hole. You want to build up the concrete into a mound so that water drains away from the post. Allow the concrete to set overnight.

Step 3: Attaching rails and slats
Once the concrete is fully set, remove the bracing and check to be sure the post is properly positioned. Starting at a corner (preferably the front this time) attach the rails with a metal bracket, wood block, or directly to the post with screws, nails, or dowels as you prefer. Check the level of the rails and the positioning of the posts frequently throughout this process to be certain nothing gets out of line. When positioning the rails and slats leave a 2” gap at the bottom to prevent moisture and decay (if you are concerned about animals or children, a small section of wire fencing can be buried along the fence line and affixed to the bottom rail to secure this gap).

Step 4: Hanging the Gates
Once you have the rails and slats attached, it is time to hang the gates. Pre-fab gates are available through many retailers, and are highly recommended for both homeowners and professionals. These gates are made on factory jigs ensuring they are strong and square. Use lag bolts to attach the hinges, especially on larger gates because they will bear the majority of the weight of the gate as well as the force of opening and closing.

Step 5: Finishing
Now that you have the main structural elements in place, you can paint or stain the fence to match your landscape. Make sure to allow the paint or stain to fully cure before attaching hardware like handles and latches because the solvents can discolor certain metals.

Building a fence is not a minor undertaking but can be very rewarding. Given adequate preparation, information, and assistance anyone can install a wooden fence that improves both the appearance and utility of the property.

Alex Middlebury is a professional contractor who works with an established Atlanta fence company and specializes in the installation decorative garden fences.

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