How Do You Build Or Install A Wooden Fence?

A yard is a great place for family fun. It’s a place for kids to play, for outdoor barbeques, and just a place to relax. But unless you like your neighbors staring at you and watching your every move, you will need to build a fence. A wooden fence is a means of keeping some privacy. It is also a means of keeping your children protected and preventing the dog from running all across the neighborhood. A wooden fence is also handy for keeping out unwanted pests such as stray animals.

How do you build or install a wooden fence? Do you need a crew of workers and a detailed set of diagrams? A wooden fence is not necessarily difficult to build. Anyone with the right tools can do it. You don’t even need to be an accomplished carpenter. All you need is the materials and a little do-it-yourself knowledge. If you have never built one before it may seem daunting but don’t worry. We’ll take you through all the steps to help you through it.

How Big Is The Yard

The first thing you need to know is how big your yard is. You can do this one of two ways. You can calculate the square footage by measuring two sides and multiplying them together. But the problem with this is that a wooden fence usually only has three sides because it connects with the corners of your house (in most cases). Probably the best way to measure the size of fence you need is to get a tape measure and measure the distance of each side of the yard where the fence is going to go. Add up all the measurements and that will be the total length of your wooden fence. Now your are ready to get your materials.

Wooden Fence Materials


There are many styles of wooden fences that you can build. For this article we are going to go with a standard wooden fence where all of the boards are on the same side. You can get everything you need at the local lumber yard or home improvement store. Take the measurement for your yard down to the store and have the salesman calculate for you the quantity of materials that you will need. You want to make sure that you get treated wooden boards so that they can stand up to the weather and not rot. Here is a list of the basic wooden fence materials.

  • Treated Wooden Fence Posts
  • 1×4 or 1×6 Treated Boards for the Fence Slats
  • 2×4 Treated Boards for the Nailers
  • Box of Nails or Screws
  • Post Digger or Auger
  • Shovel
  • Hammer
  • Screwgun
  • Level
  • Bags of Cement
  • Gravel
  • Wooden Stakes
  • Heavy String

Steps To Building A Wooden Fence

Once you get your materials back home, it is time to start construction. Here are some simple steps to building a wooden fence.

  1. The first step is to mark off where the fence posts will go. Start at one corner of your house and place a wooden stake where the first fence post will go. From there place fence posts at each corner of the fence. Next take the string and run it from each stake, tying it about a foot off the ground. Make sure the string is tight and isn’t slack or dragging the ground. The string will help you to keep the fence posts in alignment. Otherwise your fence may look like a curvy caterpillar. After you have the string stretched, set a stake next to the string every six to eight feet. Make sure that all of the posts are spaced evenly (although you may have to fudge a little bit on the corners next to the house).
  2. Next thing to do is start digging the holes for your fence post. There are two tools you can use. You can use a post hole digger which is a tool with two long handles that you dig into the ground to create a hole. Its simple and easy but take a lot of work. The other alternative is to use a hand-held auger. This device has a motor and a large screw-like digger that rotates into the ground to create a hole. If you don’t want to buy one, you can usually rent them from construction rental centers that have things like paint sprayers and such. Dig the post holes where the stakes are located. You want the hole to be anywhere from three to four feet deep, depending on how high you want your fence. You can use a shovel or the post digger to clean out the loose dirt form the holes.
  3. Once all of the holes are dug, it is time to set the posts. One at a time, place each post in the hole and use the level to make sure the fence post is straight and not leaning. Kick some dirt into the hole to hold the post and tamp it down using a pole. This will temporarily hold the post straight while you pour either gravel, dirt, or wet concrete into the hole. If you use concrete, you will need to wait for it to dry before you continue. It is important to make sure that each post is the same length in height. You don’t want the fence to resemble a rolling hill. An easy way to do this is to get a stick that is the same height that you want the posts to be and measure each posts. You may need to add more dirt into the hole before you set your post to make sure that it is level.
  4. After all of your fence posts are set into the ground, it is time to add the 2×4 nailers. A nailer is a board that stretches between each post and gives you something to nail the fence slats to. Depending on what kind of fence you are building will determine how many nailers you need to use. For a standard eight foot wooden fence, you need three nailers; one at the bottom about six inches from the ground, one in the middle, and one about six inches from the top. You can use nails or screws to attach the nailers to the posts.
  5. Now comes the easy part; adding the 1×4 (or 1×6) fence slats. For this step, you take each wooden slat and nail or screw it to each nailer. Use the level to make sure the slat is straight. Repeat this process for each wooden slat. It is a good idea to add two nails or screws in each spot where the nailer is located. Since wood expands when it is wet, do not butt each slat tightly against each other. You are not laying a floor. It is okay if there is a breadth of space between the slats. Some styles of fences have as much as a half an inch between each board so it is entirely up to you.
  6. Once you have your fence completed, you can even stain it or paint it. Staining is easy. Make sure you get an all-weather stain from the hardware store. All you do is use a brush to apply the stain and then use a rag to wipe it off. You can get stains in a variety of shades and colors.

If you decide to paint your fence, make sure that the paint is for outdoor use. If you try to use indoor paint, it will quickly peel off after being exposed to the elements. You will need to prime the fence first before you add the coat of paint. Once all of these steps are completed, you will have a nice privacy fence that you and your family can ejoy.

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