How to Build a Fence

Building a fence on your own and not hiring someone to do it can be very economical, whether you want to make a small decorative fence for your garden or a strong barrier between your pool and the outside world. The meticulous planning is the key to building a solid barrier that will remain for a long time.

Decide on the basics

Learn the lingo.

  • Posts are vertical support beams that are embedded in the ground.
  • The rails are the horizontal supports on the posts.
  • The planks are the main material of the fence and can be horizontal or vertical. They are placed on the posts and rails.

Think about what materials you will use, depending on the purpose of the fence.

  • If it is to give privacy to the backyard, it would be best to use tall wooden boards.
  • If it will not allow the pet to escape, a stretch of pickets will provide a good combination of fresh air and ample protection.

How high will it be? Privacy fences should be at least six feet (1.80 m) to avoid the curious, while barriers to contain pets or livestock may be approximately four feet (1.20 m).

Determine the length and angles of the fence. Place poles at the corners and use them to draw a line on the exact place where the fence will be built.

Take the right measures

Establish the separation between posts. Generally, between six (1.80 m) and eight (2.44 m) feet away, depending on the type of fence and the terrain on which it will be installed.

Mark the spaces with stakes. Take your time to carefully evaluate their positions, because if you do not align the posts properly, the stiffness of the entire structure will be affected.

Use a hole digger to make the pits of the posts on each stake marker. To have a strong fence, bury the posts 1/3 of its length. This will be the depth you will need for the holes.

Treat the lower third of the posts with a protective seal to prevent damage from the underground moisture. Let it set during the night so that the wood becomes saturated.

Fix the posts

Place some shovels of dirt or gravel in the holes of the posts and insert them at an angle of 90 degrees from the ground. Move them around carefully so that they settle.

Check the angle of the posts with one level and point them with stakes. The corner posts should have additional support on both sides.

Tamper the earth or concrete in the holes so that the posts are firm. Leave the props for at least two weeks so that the posts stay in place.

Make a mound of dirt or concrete around the base of the pole to avoid standing water.

Place the rails and boards

Nail a top and bottom rail along the fence posts, horizontally. Measure a distance from the top of each post to determine where to place the bottom rail to keep it straight.

Place central rails. There may be one or more, depending on the style of the fence.

Nail the boards to the posts or rails, depending on the style of the fence. You can do it on only one side of the rails or alternating in designs.

Place a door

Locate a place and size for the door (if any). Generally, these doors are 40 inches (1 m) long.

Make holes and place reinforced posts on each side. Use the method of applying gravel and tamping to make them as robust as possible.

Measure the entrance, cut 2″x4″ (5×10 cm) square shaped pieces and start to screw them to each other.

Place a hinge or support bracket to the bottom 2″x4″ (5x10cm).

Continue to build the frame, placing hinges or clamps and corner clamps in the process.

Place the door in the empty space to make sure it fits. If you see fit, prop up the hanging posts with more supports to make sure it can hold the weight.

Place the hinges on the hanging post with long-lasting lag screws.

  • The side you hold the door on will determine where you want it to open.
  • Once the hinges are firmly in place, install the handle and the latch on the other side.

Finish the fence

  • Apply several layers of wood sealant to protect the fence.
  • Paint the fence and the door with stain in a color that complements the environment or that provides a colorful design.


  • The most important thing is care and precision, measure twice and cut only once!
  • When nailing the rails, measuring each post can be a great waste of time. Save the effort by measuring a stick with the desired length and then using it to measure and mark each post.
  • Usually fences are built around properties, make sure you are not invading your neighbor’s property before proceeding with the construction.
  • Approximately one third of the total length of the posts will be underground, that is, if the fence is to be six feet high (1.80 m) the post itself should be 9 feet (2.7 m) and the hole should be three feet (90cm) deep.
  • When you make the door frame, drill holes for the bolt heads on the vertical parts to achieve an aligned connection between the frame and the door.
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