How to Build a Wood Fence- In 5 Simple DIY Steps

How to build a wood fence should be among the first thing you should learn as a homeowner.

Why would you want to build a wood fence anyways? 

Perhaps you have at one point in life experienced those naughty kids who would stop at nothing to peep through your window or jump into your backyard for a hide and seek game. 

Well, you might need to construct a wood to help you with such privacy invasion, among other things. 

A wood fence will make your property look valuably beautiful and provide you with the privacy you have been yearning for. 

This article will discuss the wood fence, why you need it, and how you can construct and maintain it.

A wood fence is a flexible structure with several functionalities. 

It can work as a partition, a marker, or a wood barrier, usually situated along a designated boundary in your yard or elsewhere within your property. 

A wood fence is also described as timber fencing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Fence

While one can settle for several fencing materials, wood remains impeccable due to its natural beauty and affordability.

 Assembling the material for wood fence construction is also a walk in the park as wood is naturally available. 

You cannot afford to dislike timber fencing. Here are some advantages of having it as your barrier around your property.

  • Image of Wood Fence In Cedar Vs Pine FenceAffordability and durability. The cost of constructing wood fencing is relatively low than that incurred when using wrought iron, aluminum, or vinyl. 

Its affordability is due to its availability in abundance in the natural environment. 

Also, when professionally installed and properly maintained, your wood fence will last for decades and remain as beautiful as it was upon installation.

  • Simplicity in maintenance. Unlike other materials that may require special products while cleaning, your wood fence will only need soap and water cleaning. 

Please treat it with paint, stain, or water repellant to protect it from damage. 

In case of damage on a panel, you can quickly repair it by replacing individual boards.

  • Versatility. Wooden fences are available in endless varieties, ranging from pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, and redwood. 

You can also paint and shape your wood fence to suit your needs. 

Painting a fence to maintain is another flexible feature of the timber fence since you can change the color as regularly as you want. 

Besides, fences come in various styles, like a board on board, split rail, picket, paddock, shadowbox, and stockade. 

Also, you can customize your wood fence to any size of your preference. 

This versatility means that your wood fence will complement almost all settings.

  • Eco-friendly. Wood is a renewable energy source hence making a wood fence is an environmentally-friendly choice. 

Also, with technological and scientific advancements, scientists have discovered several treatments that protect wooden fences from rot and pests.

  • Property value. Privacy and security are some of the top considerations among home buyers. 

A wooden fence will provide you with more features, thus attracting more potential buyers. 

The privacy extends to your family as the fence keeps your kids and pets safe from unprecedented accidents or crimes. 

As long as you live in such a house, the value of your property significantly increases.

  • Easy installation. Installing a wood fence is simple. The process will not disrupt any of your home or business activities.

How to Build a Wood Fence

Building a fence is a simple and enjoyable activity that you don’t need to hire experts to do for you. 

You can DIY by following the following steps.

  • Planning. Ensure that you have checked your boundaries before starting to ensure that your fence does not cross a boundary.

Be sure to also consult with your HOA or CC&Rs to check off any fence restrictions or design. 

Also, check with your municipality should you need a legal permit to construct a fence. 

Lastly, map the exact position where you want to construct your fence. 

Mapping gives you a definite visual, which will help you figure out your plan and decide on the best fence design you would want to work with.

  • With the help of a friend, mark fence post locations. 

First, keep the edges, followed by the corners. 

Take a tape measure and mark an eight-foot gap between each corner and along your fence line. 

Do this again, marking 8 feet long your entire fence.

  • Use a post hole digger to dig your post hole; at least 2 feet down and 12 inches wide, depending on the type of fence you’ve chosen. 

This method gives you a good anchorage of your 8-foot posts and has 6 feet of the post above ground for your fence. 

Ensure that you eliminate any unnecessary material, including large rocks and boulders you find in the ground.

  • Set fence posts with cement. 

In this step, you will need an extra pair of hands; one person will hold the post and level it, and the other to fill the hole with the cement. 

After digging your post holes, add your post in the middle of the hole, and with the help of the other person, pour in the dry cement mix. 

Fill the hole with cement mix up to 3-4 inches down the ground level. 

Add water into the hole, and let the mixture saturate. 

You can also mix it manually using your shovel.

Ensure your post is nice and straight by using a level before the cement dries up. 

Once straightness is achieved, brace it to the ground with landscape stakes screwed into the fence post.

  • Set the fence posts on a rock base if you encounter boulders digging the post hole. 

While you will also remove any unwanted material while digging your post hole, you may encounter a boulder too large to be removed from the ground. 

Follow the following process in digging your rock base:

  1. Drill a large hole in the rock base where you intend to put your fence post.
  2. Blow compressed air into the hole to clean it.
  3. Use an anchoring adhesive, either epoxy or acrylic, to fill your hole.
  4. Set your post anchor immediately before your adhesive cures.
  5. Add the fence post into an anchor and bolt it into place.
  6. In the remaining area of the hole, backfill with concrete and water. Mix it using a shovel and allow it to dry up.
  • After your cement dries up, connect your posts and add your rails. 

A 6-foot privacy fence will require three rails; top, bottom, and middle. 

The bottom rail should be about 8 inches above the ground, the top rail 8 inches from the fence top, and the other one in the middle of the top and the bottom rails. 

Measure your first fence post, mark it and screw the rail brackets on the posts.

Place your two-by-four fence rail into the bracket and level it with the next fence post where the bracket should be located. 

Screw both brackets into a place on the posts, then screw the two-by-4 fence into the rail brackets. 

Repeat the procedure by adding each fence rail one after the other until you connect all your posts with the top, bottom, and middle rails.

If your fence doesn’t appear to be of uniform size, chop the top off with a reciprocating saw. 

  • Attach your pickets along your fence and start screwing them into place. Use 2 deck screws per rail. You can use nails instead of screws to attach the pickets, but it is not a durable option; screws are best advised. Ensure that your pickets are levelized. This stage is the most tedious in building a fence.
  • Building a wooden get alongside your fence is optional. It depends on your fence layout.

Here’s a Video On Building a Wood Fence:

Do You Paint Or Stain Wood Fence?

You may need to give your old wood fence a fresh look by either painting or staining. 

The two procedures are different and will provide you with different results.

The painting will dramatically transform your fence because it sits on the surface, covering your timber. 

However, the result of this layer on your fence will not last long as it will wear out soon enough. 

The look will appear unattractive if it is not repainted. 

Therefore, you are advised to redo your painting after 1-3 years or when you see an imperfection.

The layered paint adds to the wooden surface and often prevents your timber from breathing. 

The lack of air breeds a potential future problem such as your wood fence rotting.

Also, remember to scrape off the old paint when you need to repaint.

While paint creates a layer on your wooden surface, the stain is soaked into the fence and offers a more profound treatment, thus lasting longer than paint.

With the stain soaked into your wood, it is unlikely that you will encounter any issues such as peeling or cracking. 

Staining also requires less preparation than paint, as you only need a good power wash and a cleaner.

Stain is versatile; it comes in various types. It can give you a close-to transparent and solid finish. 

Your stain should be more solid in color because it will give your wood more protection. 

For instance, when you use a semi-transparent stain, the beauty of your natural timber will remain alive while at the same time giving you the protection you need.

If you are looking for a cost-effective method to refresh your wood, paint should be your to-go choice as it is relatively cheap compared to stain. 

However, you will require more paint to cover your fence, which won’t last as long.

The additional times you require to paint versus the cost of a stain outweigh the costs. 

It is safe to say that there’s no “winner” on which item between a paint and a stain is more cost-effective.

Conclusively, whether to use a paint or stain entirely depends on the look you want to achieve on your wood fence. 

If you want something more visible, dramatic, and attractive, and if you are okay with the time-after-time maintenance, go for the paint.

If you prefer a once-in-a-while kind of maintenance and like your fence looking more natural and subtle, then you can bet on the stain; it’s the best for you.

How to Paint a Wood Fence

You will need to paint your fence after installing it or when it looks tired or worn out. 

Before painting it, you need to do some prep work:

  • Clean up around the fence by mowing the grass and clearing the area from toys, gardening equipment, or any other material that may get damaged. Also, cover the nearby shrubs so you won’t stain them with paint. Put a tarp down in the painting area.
  • To prep, the fenced area, check if there are any loose nails, dangling screws, or cracked rails. Detach all sorts of decoration from the fence as the paint may stain them. You will replace them after you are done with the painting.
  • Smoothen your fence by using a scraper. Also, remove the old paint surface on your face that’s chipped or flaked. Sand down the fenced area to ensure your fence is free from knots. Use a fence cleaner by following the instructions that come with it. You will need a thick brush, rag, or spray cleaner to apply the fence cleaner. Allow it to dry completely, as painting your fence when wet may result in future problems.
  • After the prepping, choose a paint and primer that works well with your wood type. Oil-based paint works well with wooden fences as it is the most durable.
  • Paint a small area as a test run and allow it to dry for 24 hours. If it doesn’t damage your fence or give you the shade you want and generally pleases you, proceed with the rest of the parts.
  • Paint your horizontal panels with horizontal strokes and vertical with vertical strokes. Use a paintbrush or a roller to apply a primer layer. Allow the wood primer to dry off before you apply your paint entirely.
  • Start painting at the top of the fence, working your way down. Ensure that you generously apply paint on each panel. Avoid painting the same area twice so you won’t need to use a second coat. Check that you haven’t missed a spot. Thicken the areas where your paint appears thin.
  • If the texture and brightness of your paint meet your expectations, you are done with the work. If it doesn’t impress you, wait until the first coat dries up, then apply a second coat.

Here’s How to Paint Wood Fence:

How to Stain Wood Fence

Both painting and staining are effective ways to freshen up the look of your wood fence. 

However, using stain when you don’t want to paint is an excellent alternative as it doesn’t require as much labor and is more durable than paint. 

Semi-transparent stain is the most durable. Upon fading, you can effortlessly brush more on to without sanding or scraping. 

You may need to apply a new coat every 5 to 6 years. Here are some tips on how to stain your wood fence.

  • Prep your working area by spreading canvas drop cloths on the ground below your fence. Also, cover nearby surfaces and objects to protect them from the stain.
  • On the broad surfaces of your wood, apply the stain using a ½ an inch nap roller.
  • A 4-inch-wide trim roller will help cover the narrow surfaces and cut around the fence boards.
  • An electric cup sprayer is also good alternative equipment to apply your stain. Spray vertically to apply with the wood grain on the fence.
  • You can also rent an airless sprayer. This device is time-conservative as it can quickly draw stains from a 5-gallon bucket. Generously spray your stain on your wood fence surfaces. Keep a proper distance from the fence and overlap each pass.
  • After spraying, immediately check for any drips and clean it up using a trim roller.

Redwood is also a semi-permanent stain that you can use. 

Give it enough time to weather naturally into a soft, silvery gray. 

Remember to apply a clear wood preservative yearly to protect your fence from splitting and cracking.

Here’s a Video On Staining Wood:

Final Thoughts

This article has looked into several elements of a wood fence. 

Constructing a wood fence effectively creates a barrier that will offer you privacy around your property and increase its value. 

A wood fence is also an attractive feature around your house as you can constantly adjust it to the color, shape, and design you want. 

Painting and staining your wood fence are essential in giving your fence a fresh look different from what you have. 

Maintaining your fence with paint or stain entirely depends on your preference. 

Staining is for those who don’t wish to repair frequently, while painting is for those who love dramatic changes and have time to change their outlook in case it wears and tears constantly. 

This article has provided step-by-step guidance on creating and maintaining your wood fence. Good luck as you try it out.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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