A new fence enhances your property and provides a measure of privacy and security. While it isn't difficult to install a new fence, you must follow specific guidelines in order to make your fence level, sturdy and attractive. In addition, if you are building a common wood privacy fence, you may need to operate power hand tools. The installation process outlined here takes place in three phases: post installation, rail installation and board installation.
Contact your local zoning authority to find out which utility providers may have easements in your area. They will visit your property and use flags or spray paint to indicate where their utilities are buried. If you damage a cable or pipe, you could be liable for repair costs.
Take out a fence-building permit (if required in your community) and make sure you put the fence on your property. If you are in doubt, the country zoning board will determine your property lines (for a fee). Pay close attention to height restrictions when building your fence.
Dig the holes for your support posts to a depth of at least 30 inches for a 6-foot-high fence. The standard post distance for a wood privacy fence is 8 feet, but consult the lumberyard if you are using different fencing material.
Set the corner posts first. This is imperative in order to make sure your fence line is even. Mix only the amount of concrete you need for one hole at a time. Shovel a couple of inches of wet concrete into the bottom of the hole and position the post. Ask an assistant to hold the post upright as you shovel concrete in around the sides. Bring the level of the concrete slightly above ground level and form a gentle slope away from the post to encourage water drainage.
Level the post before the concrete sets. Work quickly, especially if you are setting the posts on a hot dry day. The dry ground will quickly leach the moisture from the concrete. Use a carpenter's level on all sides of the post. Allow the concrete to cure on the corner posts before setting the centre posts.
Tie a string from the outside of one post to the outside of the other post, at the top, pulling it taut. This string will serve as your guide and it will remain in place while you set the rest of the support posts. Place the centre posts and make sure each post is level on all sides and that each post barely touches the guide string.
Cut and install the fence rails. The rails go on the outside of your support posts. This will allow you to install the fence boards on the outside of the rails. Some homeowners prefer a smooth look on the inside of their fence, and they reverse the process, putting the rails on the inside of the posts. Although this makes a smooth interior look, it reduces security as the rails on the outside of the fence provide a foothold for would-be intruders.
Install the fence boards using galvanised screws to prevent rusting. You may purchase fence board spacers, usually in 1/4- and 1/2-inch increments. Install the first fence board by the corner post and install another one next to the opposite post. Check each fence board for level and for height and then run a string line from the top of one fence board to the top of the opposite fence board. This string serves as a guide for installing the rest of the boards; they will just barely touch the string.
Repeat with the rest of the boards, using the spacers to make sure they are evenly spaced. When you reach the final board, you may have to remove it and cut it lengthwise to fit if the space is less than the standard board width. Cut only the last board, not a centre board.
Check for level after installing every five fence boards, and make adjustments.
Avoid installing wood fence boards without a minimum of at least 1/4-inch space in-between. When cedar or treated fence boards become wet, they swell slightly, and without a space between the boards, the fence may warp.