How to erect a fence?

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Fence panels are often damaged at this time of year, when strong winds tear through the garden. So how do you erect a fence?

Our tool experts at easyToolhire are often asked for advice on a number of home and garden projects. It’s simple. You can fix it with a little know-how, some hard work and a few tools.

First of all, check that the fence is yours. If you stand and look at your property, you are responsible for the fence on the left. However, if you are unsure, you can check by visiting the HM Land Registry website. The last thing you want to do is erect a fence and find out it’s not your responsibility!

What do I need?  

Erecting a fence isn’t as simple as digging some holes, dropping in some fence posts and panels and then screwing some panels to the posts – there is a fair bit more involved if you want it to look professional.

Firstly, decide on the type of fence that you would like. There are many different types and styles: Featheredge, lap, closeboard and double slatted, for example.

In this instance, we’re going to look at panel fencing. For this you will need a few tools, as well as some concrete or postcrete.

You will need fence posts and fence panels, a decent hammer as well as a pole borer. Plus, you will need a string line, a spirit level, fence post concrete and some aggregate to sit at the bottom of each post hole. Oh, a bucket is handy too.

Before you start

Once you have established where your fence needs to go (make sure you have consulted the deeds of your house and are not encroaching your neighbour’s property), get your hammer. Put two small stakes into the ground. Tie some string between them, making sure you have a nice straight edge. This is important, as it gives you a nice straight line to work with.

Now that you have a nice straight line, measure it. By doing this, you can work out how many fence panels and fence posts you will need. If you are replacing an existing fence, count the number of existing panels you have. Or, if you are replacing the entire fence line, count the panels and posts.

Generally, if your fence panels are in poor condition then your fence posts usually are too. And if your fence panels have been blown down by strong winds then it is likely that the stability of your fence posts will have been weakened also.

Removing a fence post with a concrete base is hard work. However, check out this tip: By staggering your fence posts, placing them in the middle of the original fence posts then there is no need to take out the old concrete bases.

Fence posts and fence lines

To ensure your fence has the best chance of staying upright, you will need to make sure your fence posts are concreted in properly. Therefore, you need to dig a hole for the fence post to the correct size, mix up your fence post concrete, place your fence post firmly into the hole (making sure it’s deep enough) and fill in the hold with your post-mix. And, you need to do all of this whilst making sure the post is level.

However, there’s no need to rush.

Use your string line as a guide and concentrate on digging one hole at a time.

Starting at the top of your fence line, place a stake in the ground to mark the location of your first post. You should make sure that the stake is in the centre of where your post will eventually be positioned. Measure the length of your fence panel to the location of your next post. Add an additional four inches (assuming you are using four inch posts) and hammer in another stake. By doing this, you can ensure that your fence panel will fit between the posts. If your fence posts are not four inches wide then change this figure accordingly and add the appropriate number of inches. Repeat this process until all of your stakes are measured out correctly and in the ground.

The next step is to ensure that the stakes are all inline with each other. To do this, starting at the top of your fence line, tie some string around the top of your stake and run it to the other end. Pull it tight and tie it off. Your string line should be in line with all of the other stakes that you have hammered in. If they are not, adjust accordingly.

When digging holes for fence posts, the hole should be 3x wider than the post. For example, a hole for a four-inch post should measure 12 inches wide. In terms of depth, 25 per cent of the post’s height should be in the ground. Again, for example, a standard six-foot fence requires an eight-foot post – two feet of which should be in the ground.

Get digging

Use a spade to dig the hole or hire a pole borer to make the hard work easier. When you remove the stake and place your fence post into the hole, make sure you place the post in the centre of the hole. You do not want your measurements to be off centre. Otherwise your fence panel will not fit.

To the bottom of your hole, add a few inches of aggregate. This helps water to drain way properly, reducing the risk of your fence post rotting away at the bottom.

Before you replace the stake with the fence post, treat the post with some wood preserve.

Place the fence post into the hole and ensure it is square in the hole. Secure it with further stakes and battens and using a spirit level, ensure it is straight.

Tap down the aggregate at the bottom of the hole before filling the hole with quick setting postcrete. Allow it to set. Repeat these steps.

Once your fence posts are set, you can fit the fence panels between the posts. You should be able to slide your new panels between the posts, fitting them into place and securing them with the appropriate fixings/screws.

Once you have completed this process, treat the fence panels with a quality woodstain to ensure all of your hard work and effort lasts for a long time.

To summarise, you should:

  • Make sure you have all the tools you need
  • Create a nice straight edge using a string line
  • Accurately measure how many fence posts and panels you need
  • Mark out carefully where each post should go
  • Make sure you can fit each fence panel between your posts
  • Dig one hole at a time.
  • Make sure the fence posts are in a straight line
  • Use a spirit level to ensure everything is level
  • Allow the concrete in each fence post hole to set before inserting the fence posts
  • Fit the fence posts securely
  • Paint the fence and fence posts with wood preserve
  • Admire your hard work. With a beer or cup or tea

Through our strong local partnership network, easyToolhire has the tools you need.

Images: Matt Chen/Sergey Lapunin/Unsplash

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