All wood fences should be watersealed
All wood fences should be watersealed
Before you even begin the physical process of building a fence, you need to plan the project properly. First, you will need to do a little research and decide on the style and the type of building materials you will want to use in your design. Next, contact your local utilities (811 is the designated call before you dig phone number that directly connects you to your local one call center) and have them send someone out to mark the locations of any lines for gas, water, electric, cable, etc. It is also highly recommended that you check the local building codes and ordinances in your area, since most require a building permit that have requirements and/or restrictions that must be followed. This can affect your decision about the height, style, setback and material of your fence. Check for post size, height and depth requirements for your area. It is also worth checking to see if there are any approvals from other agencies such as Conservation Authorities, especially here in Brevard County, Florida. If you choose to hire a fence contractor like myself, those are steps we will take for you, as well as help in the design to ensure that you get the desired result. If you have any questions or would like a quote for a wood, metal, or PVC fence, please do not hesitate to contact us today!
To ensure the life of your fence, you need to be sure you are treating the materials properly. Make sure the wood you use is pressure treated. Treated lumber will last longer as it resists rot. You may want to additionally treat the bottom part of your posts that will be buried in linseed oil or a sealer to keep excess moisture out. It also doesn't hurt to cap the tops of the fence posts, or bevel them, to prevent them from absorbing moisture as well. Pine, Spruce, Cedar, Juniper, and Cypress all have somewhat of resistance to rot, but you still want to make sure any wood is pre-treated, or treat it yourself. (For more information about our presure-treated lumber, visit our 'Wood Fences' page.) It is recommended to use screws versus nails, since screws stay in an aging fence far better than nails. It is best to use rust-resistant hardware, such as galvanized screws, hinges and catches.
When buying a vinyl fence, make sure you choose a style that fits your needs. For example: 6' high tongue & groove style for total privacy, or open picket style for a more spacious feel. There is also semi-private that have spaces for air flow, but are difficult to see through. All vinyl fences come in a variety of heights and styles, and can be combined to fit your needs. For example: you may want to have a 6' high total privacy fence in your back yard, and transition down to a 4' high open picket style fence for the front or side yards. Vinyl fencing comes in two main colors: white, and tan (which is 10% more than white). There are also a variety of post caps to choose from. The standard cap is a flat pyramid style, but we also have Ball Top, Gothic, and New England style caps to help you customize your new vinyl fence. One of the main considerations in purchasing a vinyl fence is to make sure it is fabricated with virgin vinyl and not recycled vinyl, which is inferior to virgin vinyl. Most large retailers will sell recycled vinyl. We only sell virgin vinyl. Our salesman will come to your home and ask the key questions to help you decide on which vinyl fence, or combination, would work best for you. We have been installing vinyl fencing since its introduction in the late eighties.
Before you begin digging, you will need to make sure you have accurately plotted the fence line. You may need to refer to the land survey you obtained upon buying the house to make sure you are judging the boundary line correctly. The last thing you want is to get into a dispute with your neighbor about your property line. It is best to build your fence 1 to 2 inches on your side of the property line, and be sure you are very meticulous when marking the property line so that your fence will be as straight as possible. The best way to mark the property line so that you can be sure it is straight is to either use marking spray paint, or you can use stakes/nails and string. Drive a stake or large nail into the ground where each corner of your fence will be, then take a string and draw it tightly between each of the stakes to make the line. Use that line and, if possible, a level to establish where you will place each fence post, then mark each spot with a stake or nail.
Digging the post holes is very important, and can end up ruining your fence if not done correctly. Posts must be set to the right depth and firmly in the ground, otherwise you could end up with your fence tilting one way or another, or even collapsing in cold weather. In order for your fence to stay in place for years, you must make sure the posts go well below the frost line. Hiring a professional to dig your post holes is probably the best and safest option. Digging with a normal shovel is very difficult to provide consistency. You could end up with different depths and inaccurate post hole locations, not to mention that manually digging the post holes is time consuming and labor intensive. Manual digging may also reveal rocks and other obstacles. An auger operated by a professional is going to provide consistent post holes and save you a lot of time!
Once the post holes have been dug, you will need to contact an inspector. Inspectors are often required as a condition of any building permit. They will be looking for a certain required depth, among other things. Concrete provides the strongest installation for your fence posts, though earth and gravel can be used as well. Some concrete options are easier than others, so be sure to research the various options. A concrete mix is commonly used by most people for their fence posts since all you need to do is pour the mix in the hole, and just add water and stir. It is important to time your work carefully and plan accordingly. If any concrete seeps under the post, it will cause it to retain moisture and possibly speed up decay. You will always want to begin with the corner posts since you will need them to plumb and align the rest of the fence posts. For concrete mix, you will need 1.5 bags for a 4 inch post set at 3 feet deep, or just 1 bag for posts set at 2 feet deep. Place a large, flat stone in the bottom of the post hole and fill around it with gravel until it is level with the stone (usually about 6 inches). You will need to continuously plumb and align each post while adding concrete 2-3 inches at a time. You may also want to add an extra 1-2 inches of concrete above the ground that slopes away from the posts that will serve as a water runoff. Make sure that you double and triple check each posts for plumb and alignment since you will only have about 20 minutes to adjust your posts after you pour the concrete. Once you have poured all the concrete, you need to wait a minimum of 2 days before you install the rails and siding to be sure that the concrete is fully cured. For fences under 100 feet, use the corner post or end post method to align each post in a straight line and so that they are exactly vertical. Start with the corner posts and position their faces in flat alignment, and plumb them with a level. Next you will need to nail a 2 inch long, 1 by 2 spacer block into the post about 1 foot above the ground. Stretch and tie a mason
Now that you have set and aligned the fence posts, the most difficult part of building your fence is behind you. The final steps will be attaching the railings, and kick boards if you plan to use them, and securing the siding like, panels, pickets, boards and such. Although the most difficult part of setting and aligning the fence posts is over, you will still need to be very careful and accurate when fitting, leveling, and fastening the rails. The rails are an integral part of the framework that ties the fence together and will support the weight of your siding. For tools, you will need lots of string, a good level, a circular saw, a hammer, and a lot of fence nails. You will want to be sure that you set the top of the posts at their finished height before proceeding. Once you have the established that the posts are set at their desired height, you can begin joining the rails to the posts. You will want at least two railings from post to post, and for additional strength and support, just add a third. You could also install a wood or masonry support under the center of the bottom rail for added strength if necessary. You will want to place the railing on edge so that the siding is least likely to sag, which is especially important if you plan to use heavy siding. Attach the rails to your fence posts either by toe nailing them, or using fence or angle brackets, which you can buy at just about any local hardware store. If you plan to toenail the rails, then nail 2 by 4 cleats to the posts for added support. You will need to choose beforehand whether you want to use lapped or butted rails. Lapped rails are most often used with vertical board fences, and are the easiest to install. Keep in mind when attaching the rails that if they meet at a corner, you will need to miter the ends. Butt the ends at the middle of the post if they meet on an intermediate post. Butted rails should be cut to fit snugly between posts. Level the rails first, then nail them to the posts using box nails that are at least 3 times as long as the thickness of the rails, or using hot-dipped galvanized common. On panel and board fences, the siding is usually installed 6 to 8 inches above the ground to keep it from rotting, so installing a kickboard is recommended in order to close this gap. Kickboards are installed for both technical and decorative reasons. Nail kick boards to the bottom fence rail before you attach the siding. You will definitely want to use decay resistant wood, either 1 by 10 or 1 by 8, for your kick boards. Center the kick board under the bottom rail and secure with a cleat, or just nail it to the face of the post and the bottom rail. The kick board should extend into the ground at least 4 to 6 inches to deter animals from digging under the fence. Once the kick boards have all been installed, you can now proceed with attaching the siding. Although this is the easiest part of fence building, you will always want to double-check if the framework is straight before your start nailing. If the framework is not straight, then the siding will make any problem very obvious. You may need an extra person to help you install the siding, depending on the type of material you use. Nailing boards, pickets or slats can be done by one person, whereas if you are using panels, you may need a helper or two to lift and hold the panels while you level them and nail them into place. If you installed the kick boards and made sure that they are level, then you can just place the siding on top of them. If not, then you can just stretch a string or mason