The Basics of Fence Installation

Fences add curb appeal, safety, and security. They are also a good way to define property lines and set boundaries.

Fence Installation

Fences come in many styles and materials. A professional fence contractor will help you decide on the best fence for your home or business. Contact Fence Installation Holland MI for professional help.

There are a number of materials that can be used to build a fence. Each has different qualities and costs associated with it. It’s important to choose the right material for your needs. If you’re installing a fence to demarcate your property, consider using metal or vinyl, which are more durable and less expensive than wood. Fences can also be made from concrete and other more permanent materials, but these are not as aesthetically pleasing as the more traditional wooden variety.

Once you have chosen the type of fence you want to install, you’ll need to gather all of the necessary materials and tools. You’ll need fence posts, rails, and either panels or pickets. The panel and picket components are the main structure of a fence, so it’s important that they fit together correctly and are installed in the correct location. Depending on the style of fence you’re building, you may need to add trim pieces to hide fasteners and provide a finished look.

Before starting to dig holes for your fence posts, make sure that you call the local utility locator hotline and have them mark where any underground pipes, cables or other utilities are located. This will help you avoid damaging them as you work.

You’ll also need to buy buckets, a post digger spade and an auger. These tools will help you dig the holes for your posts and ensure that they are a standard size. It’s also a good idea to have point trowels on hand for smoothing out mortar haunches and mixes around the bases of posts. These are especially useful if you’re setting posts in paving or other hard standing surfaces.


Posts anchor the entire fence system, providing support for gates and ensuring that the fence remains taut and rigid. Corner posts must be especially sturdy to resist the extra stress placed on them. Fence posts are available in a variety of materials, including cedar, pressure-treated pine and redwood. Cedarwood is naturally rot-resistant and repels insects. Its distinctive color and texture make it a popular choice for fences, and its durability makes it a great alternative to more expensive wood options like redwood.

When choosing wooden fence posts, opt for those that are a minimum of a third of the length of your chosen fence height. Also, make sure that the wood is marked as suitable for ground contact. Most importantly, make sure that the wood is treated with a wood preservative to protect it from moisture and insects.

The first step in the process is to locate and mark the fence line using string and stakes. Once the string is properly in place, dig holes for your posts, following a standard rule of thumb of digging a hole three times as deep as the height of the fence post. If you are installing a large number of fence posts, consider renting a mechanised post hole auger to make the process much easier.

To prevent the concrete from leaking out the bottom of the hole, add at least 6 inches of gravel to the bottom of each hole prior to filling with concrete. Be sure to tamp down the gravel when half-filled and again when fully filled. Once the concrete has been poured, remove the bracing supports and allow it to set for at least 24 hours before affixing anything to the posts.


Fence rails are the horizontal members that connect fence posts and support vertical picket or privacy fence boards. They can be made of wood or vinyl, and they can be either prefabricated or built from scratch. For wood fences, pressure-treated pine or cedar are typically used for their durability and insect resistance. They are also less likely to rot and will require less maintenance than other materials. Wood fences are commonly stained to prevent deterioration and create a more attractive appearance.

Installing rails is the next step in creating a fence. Before digging post holes, measure the length of the intended fence line with a tape measure or string. This will help you determine the number of rails needed for your fence. Once you’ve established your fence length, mark the center of each fence post location with a string line that is taut and clearly visible. Using the string line as a guide, dig your post holes to the correct depth, which should be around 13 to 12 the height of the post plus 6 inches.

The fence posts will have holes cut in them that are meant to hold the bottom of your fence rails. Do not try to make these openings bigger to accommodate larger rails. This will weaken the posts and can lead to fence failure. Instead, use rail hangers to secure the bottom of the rails to the posts. These are typically open U-shaped metal brackets that will not rust or corrode.

Once you’ve finished installing your fence rails, you can begin adding the slats. Most slats are made of wood, but you can also choose to have an aluminum or steel panel. When installing slats, be sure to attach them to the rails with corrosion-resistant screws or nails. Typically, the slats should be installed with the narrow-side up to minimize side-to-side pressure and sagging, or the wide-side up for more stability.


The pickets are the individual fence segments that make up the fence. The number of pickets needed depends on a variety of factors, including fence height, gate openings, and picket spacing. A fence height of 6 feet or more will require more pickets than a lower-height fence. The width of the picket also influences the number required. Narrower pickets will require more pickets per foot of fence than wider ones. When calculating the number of pickets required, you should also account for any other features that will be included in your fence, such as a kick board or cap board.

A kick board is a 2×6 or 2×8 piece of wood that runs along the base of the fence and protects it from mud and rainwater. A cap board is a similar piece of wood that runs along the top of the fence, adding an extra level of privacy and a finished appearance to your project.

If you’re constructing a picket fence, you may wish to add a decorative finish to it, such as paint or stain. You can find a wide range of color options, as well as nontraditional finishes like shapes. You can even decorate your post caps with LED lights or birdhouses.

The cost of a fence installation project can vary greatly, depending on the area being fenced, the purpose of the fence, and whether or not the contractor needs to dig into utility lines. Additional costs can also be incurred by the presence of rocks, stumps, or plants that need to be removed. Fence installation projects can also be more expensive if they require a permit or if the location is in a flood zone or has other special requirements.


A fence can improve the look and value of your home, protect pets and children, define property lines and keep unwanted wildlife out. Depending on your community and homeowner association rules, you may have to get a permit and/or follow building codes when installing your fence. Before starting any construction, contact the neighbors to let them know about your plans. This will help ensure that your neighbors don’t feel like you’re encroaching on their space or depriving them of a view or handy access point. It’s also a good idea to talk with your neighbors about sharing the costs of a fence to help keep tensions low and the project on track.

Ideally, you should give yourself 30 to 50 hours for this type of DIY project. That gives you time to work around rainy or windy weather and allows you to rent tools such as a post hole digger, which will speed up the process. If you are using wood, it is a good idea to stain the posts and panels before you start construction. This will help protect the wood from moisture and rot.

Before digging any holes, be sure to call 811 to have all buried utility lines marked. This will prevent damage to pipes or disruption of your services and allow you to build your fence safely.

Next, stake out the perimeter of your fence. This will be especially important if you’re building along your property line, as a mistake of even a few inches could put your fence on the wrong side of your property. One of the simplest ways to mark a property line is by driving stakes and running string between them.