building a fence

How to Build a Fence

Many residential property owners decide at some point that they want a privacy fence around the backyard. Those who prefer to complete this as a do-it-yourself project will need to methodically follow several steps from the initial planning stage through the final construction. Using panels is the quickest and easiest way to construct a privacy fence. If the homeowners need assistance at any point, Dallas Fencing Company is ready to help.

Making Decisions

By the time the property owners decide to build a fence, they probably already know how they want it to look. They have seen these structures at the homes of friends and relatives, and they have already decided whether they want to buy wood or vinyl. Vinyl has become increasingly popular over the years, but many still prefer the authenticity and beauty of a wood fence. Wood requires more maintenance, but it usually only needs to be stained or painted every few years.

Additional decisions must be made before beginning the project. For instance, do the homeowners want to hang planters with flowers on the fence? If so, extra support must be added to manage the extra weight of the containers and soil.

What style of a fence cap is preferred? These devices protect the flat tops of the posts from absorbing excessive amounts of rainwater. That can lead to the growth of mold and algae, and gradual deterioration of the wood.

The Planning Stage

Determining where the lot lines are is the first part of the planning stage. The homeowners then must learn the local regulations regarding how far from the property line the fence must be. If they build it too close to a neighboring lot, they could be forced to tear the fence down and start over.

The setback line is a related factor that must be considered. This rule prohibits building any structure within a certain distance from features like a street curb or a building on a neighbor’s property. Municipalities and townships have height restrictions for privacy fences too.

In general, municipal regulations do not address which side of the fence is to face outward. However, it’s standard for the finished sides to face neighboring properties and the street. This is common courtesy and improves the way the property looks to passersby. An extra set of panels could be added so that both sides would be finished, but this adds a lot of weight to the posts and more expense for the project.

A building permit must be acquired from the municipality or township before beginning construction. It’s also a good idea to call utility companies to come over and mark lines for buried wires, water mains and sewer lines.

Getting Started

Spray painting the fence line identifies where the construction will take place. Stakes should be placed at each corner and a string or rope tied around the perimeter. Each corner must have a 90-degree angle; this can be measured with a square tool or square level.

After this, it’s time to measure where posts will be placed. They usually are installed 6 to 8 ft. from one another. These spots can be painted or staked. The distance between the posts and the depth at which they are installed must be consistent. The hole should be about one-third as deep as the height of the post.

Because ground elevation is likely to vary at least to a small degree around the yard, the tops of the posts will not be entirely level. Instead, the panels are level at the top but will vary in distance from the ground surface.

The exception is when the fence is built on land with a significant slope. The panels then will likely have places where a new set is at a noticeably different height from the adjoining set.

Privacy fences commonly have a gate so people can reach the backyard without going through the house. Parallel lines should be painted where the gate will be installed.

The number of posts and panels that are needed can be determined by measuring the perimeter and subtracting the footage of the gate. Buying the materials for the structure along with cement to hold the posts securely is the next step.

Building a Fence

Holes for the posts can be dug manually with a shovel, but that’s labor-intensive work. A more efficient way is to use an auger or a device specifically manufactured for digging holes for fence poles. If the property owners do not have one, they can rent equipment from a hardware store or other business that provides these tools for short-term use.

About 4 inches of gravel must be added to each hole, after which the post is placed. Each post must be checked with a level to make sure it is plumb.
At this point, cement mix can be blended with water according to the instructions on the packaging and poured into the hole, with just enough to keep the post securely in place.

For best results, men and women working on this type of project should be willing to take things slowly. A general rule of thumb would be to place two posts the first day and then add two panels after the concrete has set. That may take up to three days. Afterward, dirt can be added to fill the hole.

Two more posts then can be installed along with the first two panels. Two to three horizontal 2×4 or 2×6 pieces of lumber should be secured to the posts to support the panels and prevent sagging. These are known as backer rails or fence stringers.

This schedule can be followed until the project is done.


After the work is complete, the household residents will enjoy their private space in the yard where they can have peace and quiet or entertain guests. Additional advantages include having a safe place for children to play and for letting out dogs without the need for constant supervision. Dallas Fencing Company can provide assistance at any point during the project.

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