How to Build a Basic Wooden Fence

If you are a DIY type of person, you probably want to build your own garden fencing instead of paying someone else to do it.

This is a great idea if you love to make things yourself, and it isn’t too hard if you opt for something such as a basic wooden fence.

However, for something a little trickier, like a sandstone wall, colorbond fencing or electronic gates you may need to call in the professionals instead.

But for a basic wooden fence, follow these easy steps and you should have it completed in no time.

1 – Set the Boundaries

Whether it is a fence that runs along the perimeter of your land, or one that is simply keeping the dog out of the vegie patch, you will need to plot out the lines that you are building on.

If it is a perimeter fence that will be erected between you and your neighbour, make sure you have worked out, and agreed, the exact ending of their yard and beginning of yours. If you get this wrong, you will legally have to pull it down and start again.

To mark out the boundary, place stakes in the ground at each corner and tie a piece of string between them. This will give you a visual representation of where the fence will be when finished so you can adjust it now while you still can if it isn’t right.

2 – Determine the Height

Decide on the height of your fence. A general guide is:

  • 6 foot for a privacy fence
  • 4 foot for a live stock fence
  • 3 foot for a picket fence

3 – Plot the Posts

Put your end posts into the ground, deep enough to support the fence and high enough to reach the height you have already chosen. Fill the hole around the posts with packed soil or cement.

Move the string to the top of the end posts and secure. This is called a ‘builders line’ and will allow you to put the rest of the posts in a straight line as well as the same height as each other. It is also high enough so you can dig beneath the string without having to move it.

Space all posts in 68 foot intervals.

4 – Secure the Horizontal Boards

It is time to put the horizontal boards onto the fence. These are called stringers. Use strong nails for these, as they will be carrying the weight of the vertical boards. You will need three boards: one on top, one along the centre and the bottom one about a foot from the ground.

5 – Secure the Vertical Boards

Now nail the vertical boards onto the stringers. Space these boards at equal distances, to whatever distance you desire.

6 – To Finish Apply a Finish

Apply a waterproof sealer finish to the timber fence. You should use a good quality waterproofing sealer that contains either linseed oil or silicone solids. If you are planning on also painting the fence, use oil based sealer as well as oilbased paint.

These instructions are for a basic wooden fence and assume a flat ground that you are working on. For a fence set on a hill, or for a fence made out of other materials, you may need to consult a professional.


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