How To Install a Post-and-Rail Fence

Post-and-rail fences are one of the easiest types to install as there is no need for cumbersome labor. It may not be able to provide security against kids who want to jump over, but with some painting and designing it can provide an attractive view.

If you want to install a post-and-rail fence, here are the steps to do so.

  • Verify the span of the fence. Make sure that the fence you’ll put up doesn’t intrude in your neighbors’ personal space. Likewise, identify where the underground utility lines are so you don’t accidentally hit them when doing your digging. If you’re not sure if one runs in your vicinity, contact your local utility provider. In addition, make sure that you know if there is building permit and size requirement from the zoning department before starting your fence project.
  • Make a layout of the fence. To prevent unnecessary waste of wood, determine the height of each post and length of the rails before purchasing the wood. Estimate the height of the post as well as the measurement of the hole to be cut on each post. In determining the height, add a six-inch clearing between the ground and the bottom rail so you can still mow and trim. Make a separate estimate for a gate or opening, if you plan to add any. Do pre-fencing so you’ll know how many posts and rails you’ll need. You can use sticks to stake the places where you’ll position the posts.
  • Buy the necessary materials. You can select the type of wood to use for the post and rail, though cedar and pine are the most popular materials to use. In selecting the type of wood to use, consider its tolerance against strong weather conditions and pests. Common length of the rails is 8-11 feet. They can either be round or half-round, or maybe diamond or square in shape.
  • Prepare the posts. There are three types of posts that you have to set up. The number of posts depends on you but make sure that you have end posts, corner posts, and line posts. End posts have holes drilled halfway through the wood and serve as starting and end points. Corner posts are used if you plan to make a square fence. They have holes, each halfway drilled on the adjoining sides so the rails are situated on a right angle. Line posts have a hole that is drilled through and through, and are used to provide support and to balance the rails. Dig the post holes about ten to twelve inches wider and six inches deeper than necessary. This allows you to make adjustments to the posts once you’ve planted them in the holes. Put gravel inside the holes to drain excess water from the ground. If you were given a permit, follow the required depth of the hole.
  • Install the fence. For reference, put in the end posts first. Install the rest of the line posts, inserting the rails and checking the fit as you move along. Make the necessary adjustments for each post installed. Once done, fill the holes with soil and make sure that they are firmly in place.

After installing your post-and-rail fence, you can paint and design it as you see fit. Doing this can be a great family activity that your kids are sure to enjoy.


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