Installing a fence board by board is the best way to get a truly custom look and the longest lasting fence. Choosing your own fasteners and taking the time to adjust height and pitch to suit your installation are some of the benefits. Laying out your posts and establishing a solid frame should be taken care of before adding any slats to your fence. The more preparation that goes into the foundation, the easier the job of hanging fence slats will be.
Installing Fence Slats
Line up a string from corner to corner of your fence line at the height you wish to set the tops of your slats. This will allow you to visually set each slat at the proper height without individual measurements. Use mason's twine for best results, it does not stretch and is strong enough to be pulled taut without breaking.
Start at one end of your fence with the first slat. Set the top in place with your top string and drive a single treated deck screw through the slat into the top horizontal fence rail. Use a level to adjust the pitch of your slat until it is perfectly upright. Add a screw in the bottom rail to hold the slat in place. Complete the installation by driving at least two screws into every joint between the slat and any horizontal rail.
You will want some type of spacer the correct thickness of the gap between slats to aid in proper placement. Using a piece of ¼ or ½ plywood is generally sufficient for allowing the wood to swell and contract. Larger gaps may be required according to the design, cut your spacer accordingly. Hold the spacer against the side of the first slat. A quick clamp, or c clamp may be useful to hold it against the horizontal rail between your slats.
Add the next slat snugly against the opposite side of your spacer block. Follow the same procedure for securing it to the rails.
Installing Fence Slats on a Slope
For areas where the landscape changes height, simply cut the bottom of the slat to fit the topography of the ground. This allows the top of the fence line to remain level while adjusting for differences in the ground's surface.
Hammer and nails can also be used to attach slats. It is not as strong a joint as a screw and can be more time consuming. Power nailers are not recommended unless speed, and not strength, is your primary concern. Whatever method you choose be sure to get fasteners that are rated for outdoor use to avoid streaking and rust.