Level of Difficulty: Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
Completion Time: Week-end Project
Versatile, durable and low-maintenance, treated-wood fences are extremely popular. They’re easy to build, can be completed over the weekend, and don’t require specialized tools aside from the posthole auger. Digging holes and pouring cement is physically demanding, however. Fence posts are buried in the ground and the holes are then filled with stone dust or concrete.
Before you begin, bring your neighbors up to speed and check local bylaws concerning fence installations.
- Posthole auger
- Carpenter’s level
- Line level
- Electric drill
- Circular saw
- Mitre saw or table saw
- Quick setting concrete
- Lattice panels
- Rails (stringers), 2" × 4"
- Lattice moulding
- Boards, 1" × 6"
- Boards, 2" × 8"
- Posts, 4" × 4"
- Stone dust
- Decorative post caps
- Metal joist hangers
Municipalities have regulations and bylaws that govern the installation of fences and hedges, and it is up to you to be aware of any regulations that might apply. Before you undertake a fencing project, locate the precise boundary of your property, lay out an installation plan, then measure the total length. The fence can be put up in four different ways, using: metal stakes, gimlets, posts driven directly into the ground, or posts inserted into form tubes or post base hangers. This project proposes you bury the fence posts in the ground and fill the holes with stone dust and concrete. Before you insert wood posts into the ground, protect them with a wood preservative. Screws are preferable to nails. Your overall structure will be more solid, and it will be easier to replace a board or section of the fence if you need to in the future. Use screws for treated wood (ceramic-treated) or stainless steel screws. The rest of your hardware should ideally be made of stainless steel, or at least galvanized steel.
A fence is made up of a succession of posts connected by means of horizontal rails to which vertical fence boards are attached. Calculate one post and one section per 100" length of ground to fence in. Add an additional post to complete the fence.
NOTE ON TREATED WOOD
Treated wood should be handled with precautions:
- Wear gloves and long sleeves when handling treated wood to avoid skin contact with and to protect against splinters.
- Wear a dust mask, eye protection, gloves and long sleeves when sawing, sanding or shaping treated wood to avoid skin contact with or inhalation of sawdust, to protect against splinters and to protect eyes from flying particles. When making cross cuts use a cut sealer as the factory-treatment rarely goes to the heartwood.
- Apply an appropriate "end-cut" preservative to protect exposed, untreated wood.
- Use nails, screws, bolts, connectors and other hardware resistant to corrosion: stainless steel, hot-dipped galvanized, yellow zinc or specially coated for outdoor use. Ordinary fasteners will rust, causing unsightly stains, and will weaken and fail.
- Make certain the wood is thoroughly dry before painting or staining, and follow the coating manufacturer's recommendations. Use only good quality oil or acrylic coatings on water repellent pressure treated wood.
- Regularly apply a stain or a water-resistant product to waterproof the wood and reduce leaching: every two years on floors and every four years for all other surfaces.
- Do not dispose of treated wood remnants or sawdust in compost heaps, wood chips, or mulch and do not use it as animal bedding or litter.
1.2. Calculate the total length of the fence. Plan for one section and one post per 100", and an additional post to complete the fence.
1.3. Prepare your materials for each section:
- 1 post, 4" x 4" x 10'
- 2 horizontal rails, 2" x 4" x 96"
- 1 border, 2" x 8" x 96", with a groove
- 13 boards, 1" x 6" x 60"
- 1 lattice panel, 24" x 96"
- 1 lattice moulding (“U” shaped), 96" and 2 mouldings, 16"
1.4. Cut the upper corners of the 2" x 8" x 96" border in the shapes suggested.
Use a posthole auger to dig your holes.
1.5. Use a router to cut a ½" deep groove in the bottom of the border, sufficiently wide to receive the trellis. The groove should be perfectly centered.
2.2. Use a posthole auger to dig holes 8" to 10" in diameter and 3' 6" to 4' deep for optimum stability and to prevent the posts from loosening when frost occurs. The distance between the holes must be 8', centre to centre.
2.3. Lay a bed of 0-¾ crushed stone 6" deep at the bottom of every hole.
2.4. Apply a wood preservative to the section of the posts that will be below-ground.
2.5. Insert a post, then use a carpenter’s level to make sure it’s vertically level.
2.6. Put in a foundation of concrete or stone dust enough to stabilize the post.
2.7. Maintain the post in a vertical position, and check that it’s vertically plumb.
2.8. The posts should be higher than the finished desired height; you can trim the posts once the installation is complete.
2.9. Fill the remainder of the cavity with stone dust up to ground level, and lightly water the surface to compact the stone dust. It is advisable to ask someone to help you for these steps. If you choose concrete, put the concrete mix and water into the portable mixer. Close the lid and mix for approximately 30 seconds. When it’s ready, pour the concrete in the holes. Note that you may also use premixed concrete.
2.10. Verify once more the distance between posts, which should be 8', centre to centre.
Set the posts into the postholes
2.11. Make the concrete mound-shaped around the post; this will allow water to run off and not create a pool around the post.
3.2. Mark the location of the upper hangers 3' above the marks already made (for the lower hangers).
3.3. Screw the joist hangers to each post at the appropriate height, securing them at the top and bottom and on both sides.
3.4. Secure 2" × 4" rails to the joist hangers between two posts. The vertical fence boards will be screwed to these horizontal rails.
4.2. Press the two 16" vertical lattice mouldings on the posts by pressing down on the preceding moulding, then screw.
5.1. Fasten each vertical board to the top and bottom horizontal rails by means of two diagonally positioned screws.
5.2. Space the vertical boards 1 ½" apart, or less if desired. Use a template for even spacing. For example: for a 1 ½" space, use the narrow edge of a 2" × 4" (which in fact measures 1 ½"× 3 ½") as a spacer between two vertical boards.
5.3. Repeat the process until the area between two posts has been covered.
6.2. Place the border over the trellis so that the trellis fits in to the groove, then nail it to the posts at a 45° angle.
6.3. Install a decorative post cap on each post.