Building a wood picket fence is a right of passage for a lot of homeowners, but novices can easily underestimate just how much work goes into building a fence. For those who are building a fence for the first time, here are a few tips to produce a fence you can be proud of.
Establish the Property Line First
Before you dig a hole or purchase parts for a rolling wood gate, make sure you know where your property line is. Not only will this save you from legal trouble, but it also determines how many materials you will need. Building a wood picket fence tends to give you a little more flexibility than, say, a chain link double gate, but it’s important that you mark your property line with spray paint or line posts.
Use the Right Tools to Dig Your Post Holes
In addition to establishing your property line, you should also trace any underground pipes and sprinklers before you dig. Experts use professional diggers or augers to set the holes, ensuring they’re all about two feet deep and one foot wide. You can use a crowbar to remove any large rocks. Some professional fence installers also add a layer of quick-drying cement to the bottom of their hole to support the post, but you can also just pack compact soil around the post to keep it in place. Some also recommend putting some gravel at the bottom of the hole for proper drainage.
Set the First Post Before Digging the Next Hole
Many professionals will install the first post before they dig any other holes. This ensures that your post holes are all in line with each other so that you have a straight fence.
Make Sure your Hangers are Level
Once the pickets have been installed, experts recommend running a level string between the posts about an inch below the place where you want the hangers or hinges to be. While you can purchase what’s called a line level wherever you buy sliding fence parts, a traditional level works as well. Attach the hangers just above the line. You’ll also want to attach the brackets that go on the bottom of the fence before your try adding the panels.
Plan your Panels in Advance
If you’re building a wood picket fence for the first time, it may be easier to look into “fence parts near me,” rather than trying to cut your own slats. Either way, you’ll need to make sure that you “rack the panel” (turn it over until the wood gives, seeming to “break in” the panel) before you install.
When in doubt, ask the experts at the local fencing supply for tips. Block out a weekend for your project while the weather is nice. If executed correctly, you’ll have a quality fence that lasts for years to come.