How to build a picket fence

When you start building a picket fence, you only need some time, effort and basic carpentry skills but in the end the entire work will be rewarding.


First of all, you need to see if there are any building codes that forbid you to install a fence. Also, you may need a permit so you may check this out too.

Big problems can appear if your fence is not entirely on your property.

Necessary materials:

  • Fence posts
  • Concrete mix
  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Wood for rails
  • Fasteners
  • Pickets
  • Nails
  • Paint or stain

Fence posts and rails

You have to decide where the end and corner posts will be located and mark those places with stakes. Next, you have to sink all the end posts and see where you will place the line and gate posts. When your decision is final, stake these locations.

Post holes

The fence posts have to be buried in the ground 24 to 30 inches deep in order to give maximum durability. Professionals say that end and corner posts need to be buried deeper than the line posts. The holes you make need to be larger than the posts so that you can make the posts plumb. First you have to start with an end and corner post and after the first one, you just need to measure 6 or 8 feet and place a line post.

Fence posts

For higher strength, the end and corner posts need to be set in concrete. If you know for sure you won’t use the fence heavily, the rest of the posts can be set in dirt. The first post hole has to be filled with 2 inches of gravel and the post has to be plumbed in both directions. After the rest of the hole has been filled with concrete, make sure it is tamped down. When you’re finished, go to the next end or corner post and do the same thing. After two posts have been installed, you have to verify if they are at the same height by stretching a line between them. In the case of the posts that were filled with dirt, make the same things with the gravel and after that fill with dirt.

Rails and pickets

You can start this step of the installation process, by cutting the rails and measuring the number of pickets you are going to use. Pre-made pickets can be found at a local hardware or lumber store but before you buy them, you have to establish how far you want them to be so that you know how many to purchase. When the rails and pickets are gathered, it’s time to stain or paint. When you have finished, take some fasteners and start hanging the rails. It would be highly indicated to buy some rails that are weather resistant. All the rails have to be about six inches over the ground and their top can be either placed along the top of the posts or below them with a few inches.

The installation of the pickets

Before starting to assemble the pickets, you have to determine the spacing you want
between them. After that, make a spacer board that has a cleat nailed at one end in order to hang it on the rail while the picket is attached to the fence. There’s no problem in nailing the pickets to the sides of both the posts and the rails. Don’t rush before verifying if all the pickets are square.

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