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» How To Build or Repair a Wood Fence

How Did I Do It? > Home & Garden > How To Build or Repair a Wood Fence
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Building your own wood fence is a great do-it-yourself project, saving you money versus hiring a contractor.
Building your own wood fence is a great do-it-yourself project, saving you money versus hiring a contractor.
Whether you need a fence to buffer the wind, mark a boundary of support some climbing plants, you will want to choose a material and style that will harmonize with your house and garden.

Building your own wood fence is a great do-it-yourself project, especially if you are just starting out as a homeowner learning to make your own home improvements.

Consider the initial outlay cost and what it might cost to repair as well as the maintenance costs over the lifetime of the fencing prior to beginning your installation.

WOOD FENCING

A backyard or garden is just the right setting for a rustic style of fencing such as split rail or picket, formal gardens and homes will be better served with post and board, lattice or basket weave styles. Quality is important.

A fence is a very long term investment, so selecting a durable rot resistant wood that will weather well, particularly the posts, is more than important.

Wise choices for the posts include cedar, cypress, redwood or pressure treated pine. For the other components of the fencing, spruce, hemlock or fir will suffice.

Spruce, Hemlock and Fir are all good materials for building your wood fence.
Spruce, Hemlock and Fir are all good materials for building your wood fence.
TRIM POST TOPS

Trim post tops to a point, slant or dome so that they shed water and do not rot on the top, or purchase the post caps that are available to you at hardware or home stores.

Cap a board fence with domed or sloping top rails to keep the end grain from absorbing the water and rotting on the top.

Fasten with only galvanized nails or screws to prevent rusting which will stain the tops of your wood.

TO PREVENT ROT

Digging post holes properly will help ensure your wood fences lasts for many years of use.
Digging post holes properly will help ensure your wood fences lasts for many years of use.
Apply a stain or coating of some type. Coat the pieces individually before installing them, so that all sides and ends are covered.

Fencing should be checked yearly to assure that rot has not begun or that the nails or screws have not begun to loosen.

Touch up, repair or re-coat as necessary to prevent having to replace pieces later when they are damaged by exposure to the elements.

ANCHORING YOUR POSTS

Anchor posts with metal spear connectors, which are available at home stores. Although you can in fact drive the spears into the ground with a sledge hammer, they will be far sturdier if sunk into wet concrete.

Using the post directly into the ground is also possible, however, particularly the wooden posts will rot over the course of just a few years, making them have to be replaced.

Use a post hole digger to ease the effort of anchoring your fence.
Use a post hole digger to ease the effort of anchoring your fence.
FOR EASE IN DIGGING

Use a post hole digger, which will scoop out deep narrow holes and not disturb or loosen all the dirt around them, or use a soil auger which will bore neat little holes with no effort at all. You can rent a post hole digger from any household machine rental store. Dig about two to two and one half feet for each post. In very cold areas, you might want to dig down about three feet, or below the frost line.

UNIFORM PICKETS

Clamp several pickets together in a bench vise, and saw through them all at the same time to save yourself some time and energy if the pickets on your fence are not already attached in panels.

PROPER SPACING

When planning and assessing the placement of your fencing, learn the building codes that are applicable in your area to be sure your fence is built to meet the codes.

Space your fence posts properly so that it can withstand the elements and support your wood fence adequately.
Space your fence posts properly so that it can withstand the elements and support your wood fence adequately.
Generally it is necessary to put a good side out toward your neighbors if the fencing is on the line and in most cases you will need to stay three feet off of your property line if your fence is a boundary.

To space the fence correctly on your property, use a spare picket, as a spacing device. Simply place it next to the one thats already attached to the rails and set another picket next to it.

ROTTED END REPAIR

Repair rotted ends on your fencing by sawing out the damaged portion and attaching a 2×4 horizontally at the bottom, nailing it to the next ones in line that are not rotted.

To prevent future rot at the base of the fencing make sure that fencing is at least one inch above the ground so that air can circulate to dry the wood.

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