Monthly ‘How to’ from Checkatrade.com and A Passion for Homes
Our very popular monthly ‘How to’ blog in conjunction with the online trades vetting company checkatrade.com and their panel of experts continues with – how to put up a fence: By Dave Green, owner, Wesson Fencing.
Picket fences are wooden and made of spaced uprights connected by two or more horizontal rails. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to erect, making them popular among homeowners for marking property boundaries or decorative uses.
The DIY-savvy might like to have a crack at putting up a picket fence themselves, so here is a handy step by step guide. You will probably need the following tools:
• Power saw
• Post hole digger
• Shovel and bucket for mixing cement
• Small hand saw
1. Establish property boundaries if appropriate and clear the area
Before erecting a picket fence establish the property boundary if applicable. This may mean checking with a neighbour. Better that than having to take the fence down and start again! If you are replacing an old fence make sure it belongs to you or you have the owners’ permission to remove it. You can build a new fence alongside an existing one as long as it is on your property.
If the picket fence is to mark a property boundary ask your neighbour for permission to go on their property if necessary because it is easy to put up a fence if you can work from both sides.
Clear the area of plants and weeds and use weed killer to prevent them returning.
2. Mark the fence boundary and position of the posts
Work out the fence outline and hammer in temporary stakes at all corners. Next you need a good, string line stretched tight between the stakes to establish the boundary of the fence. Make sure this isn’t snagged on anything otherwise this will divert the line of the fence. The posts should be spaced six to eight feet apart. Measure their positions carefully and mark with spray paint.
3. Dig post holes and set fence posts
For a picket fence, be sure to set posts at least two feet into the ground. If they are big posts a good guide is to set them as deep as one-third of their overall length. Dig the post holes and add a shallow layer of gravel at the bottom for drainage purposes. Ensure you leave room for adequate concrete round the outside. Put the diggings from the hole in buckets for disposal to reduce the need for clearing up afterwards. Place the posts in the holes, using the level to ensure they are straight and level, before filling with fast setting concrete. Use any scraps or spare stakes to brace the posts while they set.
4. Build top and bottom picket fence rails and attach
The easiest thing to do is buy premade picket rails but if the fence is awkwardly shaped it may be necessary to measure and cut them yourself. There are several ways to attach the rails but the simplest is to use galvanised screws and nails. Alternatively you could try cutting grooves into the posts and securing the rails into the grooves. This looks better aesthetically but is quite difficult and may be best left to a specialist.
Whichever method you use, ensure the rails are straight, level and evenly aligned. Use the level to check each rail before attaching the next one. Fix the bottom rail to the fence posts at least eight inches above the ground and the top rail roughly six inches below the tops of the pickets.
5. Attach the pickets
Once the rails are set it is now time to attach the pickets. Again, there is a large selection of premade pickets available, cut to different lengths and widths with different shapes sawn into the tops. It is easiest to use these but those who need a specific size or want a unique, individual look may wish to measure and cut them themselves.
Attach the pickets to the railings using galvanised wood screws. Ensure they are spaced evenly using a spacer block and be mindful of children or pets, who may decide to stick their heads between the pickets!
Finish the fence by staining it or use a clear preservative to let it weather naturally. Alternatively paint using a solid colour oil-based stain, as this will require less coats than a house paint. Job done!
Thanks Dave, solid advice!
Wesson Fencing offers fencing of all types and varieties for domestic and commercial applications in Surrey. These include steel palisade, security fencing, panel fencing and chain link. Established over 40 years ago, it has an unrivalled reputation for both quality and customer care.
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Checkatrade helps combat the UK’s rogue trader problem by continuously vetting and monitoring local tradespeople such as builders, plumbers and electricians as well as service providers. Checkatrade now has nearly 15,000 genuine trade members, growing by an average of 500 new members every month, more than 150 employees and a turnover in excess of £7.5m. Over the past 12 months, Checkatrade-certified tradesmen carried out a combined total of £1.4b worth of work, with complaints at just one in 200, compared to the national average of one in four.