How to Build a Privacy Fence

For individuals and families who enjoy being outside but do not want to feel that they are sharing their yards with neighbors, a privacy fence can provide a simple solution for creating visual and physical boundaries. Here are some basics about building a privacy fence that will allow you to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle in the comfort of your own yard.

What is a wood privacy fence?

A privacy fence is a tall wooden fence that offers seclusion and security to a property, all while giving the landscape a more natural and traditional look and feel. There are many different reasons someone may choose to build a fence of this kind. From keeping your animals contained on your property to enjoying time outdoors with your loved ones without worrying about onlookers, every family can appreciate the features that a privacy fence has to offer.

Preparing to build

Before you gather your tools and equipment to build your fence, check with your local building department to see if a building permit is required for your fence. The department can also give you crucial information on height specifications and set-back distance. Depending on where you live, there may be other stipulations to your fence as well, including whether or not you can have fences in the front yard or if the wall must be stained after the building process. Do not forget to check with any homeowners’ association and deed restrictions to determine if there are additional applications, requirements and fees that may be applicable. It is also common courtesy to alert your neighbors.

After you have checked for any permits and applications needed, you will also want to get a survey of the land to determine your property lines – if you do not already have a recent one. This land survey will assure that you build your fence in the right place. Even if a fence has previously been built on your property, the previous owners may have not properly surveyed the land. This means the fence may have been built on land that is not yours or conversely, did not include all of the land that is rightfully yours. Also make sure that you contact area utility companies to mark your yard for the location of any electric, gas, cable or other lines that are buried within reach. Many areas have a free service like Call 811 which will work with the utility companies on your behalf to have the underground lines marked within a couple of days.

Measure and lay out the fence posts

Now that all the preparation has been done, it is time to set the posts. The first step to building your privacy fence is to determine exactly where your fence will stand. Measure the total distance of your fence using a long tape and then mark where your fence will stand. You can do this in a multitude of ways — you can spray paint or chalk the ground along where the fence will lay or you can use string to draw a straight line across where your post locations will eventually be. Make sure that your lines are straight and place wooden stakes every six to eight feet along the line in order to get a better idea of where your fence will be. Be sure that the spaces between the posts are consistent.

Dig the holes

With a post hole digger, dig holes approximately three times wider than the post that you will use and about half as deep. This is where it is essential that you had your yard marked for buried utility lines. Make sure that your holes are wide and deep enough. In general, a six foot fence will need a hole that is three feet deep and if the posts are four inches wide, they will need holes that are twelve inches wide. Beware that if you are in an area where the ground freezes, you may need to make your holes deeper to reach below the frost line. Check with a local contractor to see what they recommend for your area.

Add concrete, gravel and posts

After the holes have been dug, pour about four to six inches of gravel down the base of the hole so that there is proper drainage. Add six to eight inches of concrete mix once the gravel is placed in the hole. Now you are ready to place your posts. Position the post in the middle of the concrete mix with the mix sloping slightly away from the post. Take a level and be sure the post is plumb. Continue this process for all of the posts on your fence, then allow them to dry and cure. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on a number of factors including materials used and temperature of the air. While three days is a good standard, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions to be certain.

There are two different types of concrete that you can use. Regular-set concrete mix takes slightly longer to cure, but it is less expensive than the fast-setting mix and allows time for you to fix any potential mistakes that were made. Fast-set concrete mix cures quickly so you will have to be completely accurate the first time around setting the posts.

Attach fence rails or panels to the posts

After the curing process, secure the rails or posts with deck screws or nails. Attach the rails using a drill, making sure that they stay sturdy and consistent throughout. Without proper care, you may end up with a fence line that appears uneven. If you are not sure whether to use panels or rails, keep in mind that panels are often faster to construct, but rails tend to be sturdier and last a longer time. In order to keep water off and prolong the life of your fence, you will want to place post caps at the top of every post.

At Perry Homes, we want you to enjoy your home inside and out. For more tips on making the most of your backyard, read more on our blog. While you are on our website, take a look at our new homes for sale in one of our communities.