The American dream of home ownership conjures of images
of Norman Rockwell or Tom Sawyer whitewashing the family’s
picket fence and perhaps, a rose garden and a little dog
in the yard. Truly, a picket fence gives a home charisma
and improves its curb appeal. There are many fencing options
for adding allure to your home its value, including various
materials (wood, vinyl and iron, etc.) depending on the
desired effect – i.e. privacy or just decorative.
let’s build that wooden picket fence of your dreams.
will need some basic materials including wooden posts
(generally 4’’ x 4’’ x 8’,
depending on your desired height), some 2x4’s (6
to 8 feet long), posthole diggers, 1’’x4’’
picket boards, galvanized nails or screws (2’’
is good), a hammer, string, level, cordless drill, circular
saw, stakes, fence post concrete, spray paint and for
your safety, gloves and eye goggles.
any successful project, the most crucial component is
the infrastructure - in this case it’s the fence
posts. Any degree of leaning or unevenness in height is
going to show in the final product. Also, depending on
where you live and the scope (price tag) of your fence,
a building permit may be required. So, do check with your
local jurisdiction before starting any home improvement
like this. And make sure you know your precise property
line location and any relevant restrictions, especially
if your fence will straddle a neighbor’s yard. In
many cases, the family next door may actually share in
the cost and construction of a great-looking fence.
mark the four corners of your fence with wooden stakes
and tie the string along the stakes, charting the perimeter
of your new fence. Make sure that the string is completely
horizontal using a level. Then, spray a marking at each
position where you will dig a post, generally in 7.5 foot
your corners first. You man need a shovel for particularly
hard ground. As a rule, the hole should be deep enough
to accommodate a third of your post to keep it secure
and below the frost line.
good drainage, you will need two to threes inches of gravel
in the bottom of the hole around the post. Using the level,
check that the post is plumb, then pour the concrete in
the hole to just a couple inches above ground level and
slightly askew outwards to divert any rain water. With
a garden hose, fill the hole with water until the concrete
completely absorbs the water. This may take two or three
waterings. After your posts are in the ground, run a string
along each post and check for alignment before the concrete
dries, making adjustments as needed. You will eventually
want to cover the cement with soil to make the fence look
measure, cut and attach two 2x4’s between each post.
These will support the picket boards. Measure each span
individually, because they will fluctuate from post to
post. Attach the boards by toenailing them to each post,
one near the bottom and one closer to the top. Be sure
that you use only galvanized screws or nails for all exterior
projects. A screw or nail gun would be very handy for
this step, but a hammer or drill will suffice,
Measure the span again and calculate how many picket boads
will fit, keeping in mind the additional space you will
leave between the pickets. A spacer (wedge of wood or
a small bolt) can be used to keep the spacing uniform.
Remember to keep the spacing small enough to prevent kids
or small animals from getting their fingers or limbs stuck
all of the pickets are secure, you are now ready to “finish”
the fence. For a natural look, a weatherproofing stain
can be used. Or one can stay with the traditional white-wash
look or apply any exterior paint color that fits with
your home and neighborhood.
sit on the porch and admire your handiwork. Your neighbors
and passers-by certainly will.