How to Attach Wood Fencing to an Exisiting Metal Fence

Updated February 21, 2017

Chainlink fences provide security, but not privacy. Many people prefer the look of a wood-panelled fence to galvanised steel mesh. If you are considering removing your chainlink fence and replacing it with a wood-panelled fence, specialised hardware makes the job easier and reduces the cost of fence renovation. Steel-to-wood fencepost adaptors are heavy-duty U-shaped steel straps that attach wooden fence rails to an installed round steel post. The hardware is pre-drilled to make installation easier. No special tools are required, but the job is much easier with two people.

Measure and mark the positions of the rails on the first post. Tie a string onto the post at the level of one rail-mark. Tie the other end of the string to an adjacent post at approximately the same height with the string taut. Hang a line-level on the string and move the knot on the second post up or down until the line is level. Mark the second post at the level of the knot. Repeat to mark the levels of the second and/or third rails on the posts. Measure and note the distances between the centres of the posts at the levels of the marks. Remove the line level.

Measure and cut the rails to the measured distances between the posts. If the posts are not exactly plumb, the distances between the posts at various heights may not be the same.

Stand on the back side of the fence. Fit the adaptor onto the round steel post at the level of the first rail mark. The curved portion of the adaptor will face you. The flattened, predrilled portion of the adaptor will face the front of the fence and your assistant. Ask your assistant to support the rail, holding it so the end of the rail is centred to the post. Use a drill and driving bit to screw the adaptor to the rail from the back side with 1 1/2-inch screws. Repeat, attaching the rail to the second post in the same manner. Work around the perimeter of the fence, installing all top rails first, then proceeding to install the second or third rails.

Install infill pickets or planks by screwing them to the rails with 1 1/4-inch screws. Two screws, aligned horizontally, typically suffice to hold the picket or plank securely to each rail. Make sure the first plank is plumb and recheck with a carpenter's level every two or three planks to ensure they are installed plumb. To ensure the top of the fence is level, place the carpenter's level horizontally on top of the last installed plank and level it. Position the next plank so its top meets the lower surface of the level. Continue installing the infill planks until the fence job is completed.


A 4-foot tall wooden fence requires at least two rails per panel. A 6-foot fence requires three.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter's level
  • Line level
  • String
  • Saw
  • Drill with driving bit
  • 1 1/2-inch coated or galvanised wood screws
  • Steel-to-wood post adaptors
  • 2-by-4 fence rails
  • Infill pickets or planks
  • 1 1/4-inch coated or galvanised wood screws
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About the Author

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.