How to Install a Fence in 7 Simple Steps

how to install a fence

Your yard should be a great oasis, a place for you to relax and get away. But how can you get away if all your neighbors can still see you? Why not install a fence?

Fences are a great way to create a space that is yours and yours alone. They can also offer a safe place for kids and pets to run around! 

With basic carpentry skills, you can learn how to build a fence without a professional installer. Keep reading to discover how to install a fence.

Check With Everyone

Before you even buy your materials, there are several things you should cover. Here’s a brief of people or agencies you should communicate with before installing a fence.

  • City or county to clear permits
  • Neighbors to clear up property lines
  • Utilities should come and mark any underground wiring
  • Community or neighborhood association

Doing your homework before you start dreaming about fence installation ideas will save you stress and money.

1. Plan, Measure, and Stake

Measure the area where your fence will go. Use yard stakes to mark either the outside or inside of the fence perimeter. Next, connect the stakes using a sturdy cable or string.

Make sure the string is taut and won’t move. You’ll need accuracy for the entire installation process. For extra accuracy in squaring up those corners, use the 3-4-5 method.

2. Dig and Place

Paying attention to the rail holes in your post to make them even dig holes for your posts. Follow the fence manufacturer’s instructions regarding the depth and size of the post holes. 

You can use either a fence post digger or a two-person auger for this job. 

If you’ve dug too deep, remove your post and add some soil back into the hole. Never try to lift or raise a fence post after you’ve added concrete to it. It won’t work. You don’t want the post to settle and be too low.

Quick Measure Guide

The depth and width of your post holes will depend on the size of the posts you’re using. The manufacturer’s installation guide should help you out with this. Colder climates should always dig below the frost line.

Holes should be about 1/3 as deep as their height. A post’s hole should be three times its width in diameter. An eight-foot post will need to be at least 2’ to 2 ½’ deep. 

3. Set the Posts

This is a two or three-person job, you’ll need at least one helper to make post-setting successful. Hold the post in the hole straight against your set string. Next, have a helper fill in the hole with your concrete mixture.

Expect to use around two 60lb bags of concrete for each post. Sloppy mixes set better, so don’t be shy with the water. 

Follow the fence manufacturer’s directions to find out how deep the hole should be filled. To create a mound around the post, overfill it to the desired height. Many homeowners like this tactic because it helps with water drainage.

Otherwise, just fill the hole, leaving a four-inch gap to the top. Next, fill in soil over the wet concrete. This covers the concrete completely, giving you more soil.

If you’re dealing with particularly uneven ground, consider placing sand in the bottom of the post holes before you set the posts.

Gates are Tricky

Be extra fussy with details in posts that will support gates. Most gates can’t be cut to accommodate size differences.

Measure and check, then measure and check again. Future you will thank you when it’s time to install that gate!

4. Place the Rails

For vinyl fences with rails, connect the posts to one another using the bottom rail first. Again, only do a few sections at a time as you may need to do some minor adjusting.

If concrete is still wet, you have some wiggle room for small errors and can gently guideposts where they need to go.

If it’s particularly windy out, it’s a good idea to secure the posts with 2x4s or other solid objects to keep them from moving with the wind.

5. Level the Posts

Using a taut string guide again, look for any sagging between posts. If posts need correcting, use a block and maul to adjust the height.

This should be done in sections of the fence. If there are slants or dips in the yard, you can follow them with the contour of your fence line. Take your time with this step, but not too long.

Waiting more than two hours may make the concrete too hard to correct.

6. Place the Pickets and Panels

Wait at least four hours before pickets and panels go up. This is a great time to measure and cut pieces you’re going to need to complete the installation.

You can easily handle most of these cuts using a basic circular saw. Follow the fence manufacturer’s recommendations for cuts. Some may need to be a few inches longer than you’d think to fit into the rail properly.

Panels can be trickier to cut so make sure you’re following all directions carefully. Always adhere to general safety practices regarding protective eye-wear and tool operation.

If you’re installing pickets, place them into the slots of the bottom rail. Once they’re where you want them, snap the top rail on. 

Panels should slide together and connect to the rails according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Cap Tip

Place a small amount of PVC glue around the inside of the post caps before installing them. This makes sure they won’t get bumped off and lost. 

7. Get that Gate

Install the hardware and gate or gates according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you measure accurately before drilling in the hardware. Nobody wants extra holes in their fence posts!

How to Install a Fence

Wondering how to install a fence? Now it doesn’t seem that difficult, does it? With a good team and some hard work, your fence could be up in no time. 

The experts at Butte Fence can help you decide which fence is the best fit for you. Whether it’s vinyl, stone, wood, iron, or chain link, we’ve got a wide variety for you to discover. 

For more fence installation tips and ideas, give us a call at 208.953.2343 or stop by one of our showrooms. Send us an email at [email protected] (Magic Valley) or [email protected] (Treasure Valley). We’d love to help you with fence building tips and ideas for fence installation.

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