Fencing made simple
Agood fence can make a big difference to a property. It is out there for the whole world to see, so all the more reason to make sure it looks good and is built well. Why let someone else take the credit for a job this important?
Follow the instructions and tips laid out in this guide and you’ll be able to do it yourself.
There are some points to consider prior to construction; fence design and its suitability to your home, privacy issues, wind shelter, legal obligations, requirements of the local authority, boundary definitions, consultation with neighbours, how it blends with the local environment, and of course, cost.
The following construction sequence is for a simple post/ rail and paling fence, but can be adapted for any fence design, depending on your enthusiasm.
So grab your confidence with both hands and let’s get started.
First, establish your property boundary. If you can’t find the white boundary pegs, talk to your council about getting the boundary set or agree on the boundary line with your neighbour.
Establish a boundary line. Lay out a string line attached to pegs, 50mm inside your boundary. This will determine where the front face of the posts will be.
Positioning Your Fence Posts – Select the end post positions. At each end of the fence dig a hole with a spade or post hole borer to a depth of 600mm with allowance for a concrete base.
Clean out loose material from the base and place a rough concrete pad or base of gravel in the bottom of the hole.
Gate posts should be set deeper into the ground by an extra 100mm.
Posts in high wind locations or unstable ground conditions should also be set an extra 100mm into the ground.
Have tools, nails, braces and pegs ready.
Fix braces to the ground peg with single nail, to allow the brace to pivot.
Tack braces to posts so they can be easily removed later.
Check plumb before adding concrete. Mix concrete (6:1 ratio builder’s mix to cement, pre-mixed ‘‘Easy to set’’ or quick setting ‘‘Quick to set’’). Add water to create a stiff mix. Pour the concrete around the posts carefully. Compact the mix with a piece of wood to remove any air pockets.
Check post alignment and check for plumb. Adjust to maintain proper alignment. Set a string line at the top of the two end posts. This can be used as a guide to set posts at the correct height. Alternatively, they can be cut to height later.
Spread the intermediate posts equally along string line. Posts should be a maximum of 2.3m apart, measured between centres.
Brace posts using temporary rails. Check alignment and vertical level on two adjacent faces using a spirit level.
Mix concrete or bags of quick drying cement and pour carefully around posts.
Post alignment and plumb can be adjusted up to 5 minutes after concrete has been poured. However, if using quick setting ‘‘Quikcrete’’, you wont be able to do any adjusting.
Stay Safe – The use of power tools makes projects much easier, but appropriate safety equipment is highly recommended. Ear protection, eye wear and sturdy footwear should be considered the minimum requirement when using power tools and always use a residual current device when using electric power tools.
Getting it done
Fixing the rails – Leave concrete to set for two days before fixing rails. Two rails are sufficient for fences up to 1200mm high.
Use three rails for fence heights above 1200mm high.
Use 100 x 50mm H4 treated rails. For smaller spans use 75 x 50mm H4 treated rails. Rails can be fixed either between the posts, or to the face of the post, depending on fence style.
For between post rails – rails should be measured at ground level, squared and cut to length – fix to posts with three galvanised flat head nails 100mm long.
For face-fixed rails – select a length of rail that can span three posts – fix with two galvanised flat head nails. Remember, measure twice, cut once.
Palings – Set string line at the height of the top of the palings. This can be done by fixing the first and last paling temporarily at the proper height and then setting the string line between them. Use a spirit level to regularly check that palings are plumb. Butt palings together as there will be shrinkage.
Fix with galvanised flat head nails that are three times as long as paling thickness. If the paling thickness is 25mm, use a minimum 75mm nail. If the paling is 19mm, use a minimum 60mm nail. If you want spaces between your palings, cut a block to size, then use this as a spacer between the palings – top and bottom – as you nail them in place.