10 Things You Need to Know Before Putting Up a Wooden Fence

Author: Emerson Beck

Author: Emerson Beck

10 Things You Need to Know Before Putting Up a Wooden Fence


Putting up a wooden fence can be one of the easiest and quickest ways to gain more privacy on your property. Whether it be nosy neighbors or random passersby, a wooden fence can block curious eyes from peering into your yard and home. Not to mention, a fence has the potential to detract potential burglars.

Apart from privacy and security, you can also count on a well-built fence to create a clear visual of property division between you and your neighbor as well as offer a safe place for pets and children to roam. Generally, there are many reasons why you might want to install a wood fence on your property.

Due to the latter reasons, not only might you be interested in putting up a fence or getting a fence extension on your property, but you’re thinking about doing it yourself. You’re not alone. Below, we’ll show you how to install a wood fence as easily as possible.

redwood fence surrounding a swimming pool in Sacramento

Project Overview

Before learning how to build a fence, it’s important to answer a few basic questions you might have. How much will the project cost? About how long will it take to complete? What skill level is required to build a wooden fence?

For approximately 30 linear feet of wooden fencing, you can expect the project to take a day or two to finish with an intermediate skill level. With greater experience and/or with more people helping you complete your project, you can get more work done at a faster rate.

The cost depends on the type of fence you plan on installing. A redwood fence, for instance, is going to cost more than, say, a pine fence. You can expect the total cost to be roughly $800 to $1,200, or $13 to $50 a linear square foot. Getting a brand new wood fence professionally installed can cost around $1,600 to $4,000-plus.

Budgeting is important. However, expect to spend a little more than you anticipate as extra costs can always come up unexpectedly. Materials might accidentally get wasted, tools might malfunction or break and need to be replaced, or certain equipment might be priced higher than you thought. Prepare for the worst.

Tools & Materials

The amount of materials you’ll need for putting up a wooden fence will depend on how big of a fence you plan on installing. The type and style of the fence might also impact how many materials you’re going to need.

As much as you might wish to save money, we highly recommend not attempting to cut costs by opting for cheaper tools or materials. With quality in mind, often it’s the better and safer option to spend a little more than you might feel comfortable with.


  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Circular saw
  • Electric miter saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Post-hole digger
  • Bubble or laser level
  • Speed square
  • Tape measure
  • Twine
  • Stakes
  • Pencil
  • Marking paint
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Work gloves


  • Wood fence panels
  • Fence posts
  • All-purpose gravel
  • Quick-setting concrete mix
  • #8 2 ½ inch exterior screws
  • #8 1 ½ inch exterior screws or 1 ½ inch nails

10 Things You Need to Know Before Putting Up a Wooden Fence

Planning & Marking

Before you jump into our how-to-build a fence guide, it’s critical that you start with the absolute basics. Never jump into a big project such as this one without touching on the fundamentals first.

Know that part of planning a fence-building project requires that you speak with your next-door neighbors beforehand. In some cases, you might be required to get written permission first before delving into your project.

Even if written permission from your neighbor is not required, it’s courteous to inform them about the project. From the noise and inconvenience of the installation to the appearance of the fence itself, your adjacent neighbors may not be as happy as you are about your prospective project. Be understanding and respectful.

You’re also going to want to look into the property easement before putting up a wooden fence. You can learn more about this by looking at your house title documents.

Once, and if, you’re in the clear, then it’s time to contact your local utility locator hotline. For free, a technician will visit your property and mark where your buried gas, water, electricity, and other service lines are located. This way, you can be sure to avoid accidentally damaging such during the fence installation process.

After the latter is taken care of, you can begin measuring and marking the actual layout or perimeter of where you plan to install a wood fence. This can be achieved with stake and twine. Also, be sure to carefully measure and mark where your fence posts will go. They’re typically spaced eight feet apart from one another.

Digging & Filling

Digging and filling seems like a simple step of the fence-building process, but in actuality, it can be a bit more complicated than you might imagine – but not impossible to figure out.

When preparing the holes for your fence posts, be mindful of any local codes that might require you to dig a specific depth.

For instance, a code might require you to dig below the frost line, which can vary depending on where you live. The frost line is the level where water usually freezes in the soil. Digging below the frost line can help prevent heave, or in other words, the ground freezing and pushing the posts of your fence upward.

How wide your fence post hole is also makes a huge difference. Normally, the diameter of a fence post hole is approximately three times the width of the post itself.

When completing the digging part of your fence installation, make sure the post holes are properly aligned based on the layout you marked (see the previous section). Failure to place post holes the correct distance apart can result in a botched fence job. Accurate measurements are important.

Once the digging process is finished, you’ll move on to filling the holes with approximately six inches of gravel and then placing the fence posts. Then, you’ll fill the post holes with concrete mix within six inches of grade. You can opt for regular-set concrete or fast-set concrete.

Fast-set concrete offers a fast, convenient approach to filling post holes, making it great for fence repairs, small fence installations, or basic fence extension projects. However, you’re better off going with regular-set concrete for medium to large projects, especially since it’s the more affordable option.

Whether you choose fast-set or regular-set concrete, always follow instructions on the mix’s bag. Every mix might be a little different, so never make assumptions regarding how to make use of it.

When the concrete is placed, make sure to brace your posts with boards and stakes. This acts as a reinforcement for your fence posts and ultimately makes them stronger.

After the concrete sets, which may take several days, you can fill the remaining area with dirt.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Putting Up a Wooden Fence

Installing and Building Fence Rails & Pickets

Now that you’ve got your fence posts set in place, you can then start working on installing and building the rails and pickets of your wooden fence. Refrain from the beginning of this part of the project until the concrete is firmly set and cured.

First things first: mark where you plan on placing your rails.

As a general guideline, if your fence is four feet tall or shorter, a rail on the top and a rail towards the bottom should be plenty. As for wooden fences taller than four feet, you’re going to also need a rail in the center as well. Rails should be installed six inches from the top and six inches from the bottom.

Begin by placing the wood fence rails to the fence posts at their widest part. Use #8 2 ½ inch or 3-inch screws to secure the rails in place, and use two fasteners for each post. When placing the rails to the posts, use a level to ensure they’re not installed crooked.

Then, it’s time to attach pickets to your fence’s rails.

We recommend using furring strips and mason ties to mark where the tops of your pickets will go. This step is important as it can not only help you install your pickets at the right level but also better ensure that you install them evenly.

Now comes the picket installation step of your project. Plumb your first picket with a level. The first picket should be attached at a gatepost or corner post. Secure the picket with a #8 1 ½ inch screw or galvanized 1 ½ inch nail. (Using screws will make your fence last longer and remain stronger over the years.)

When installing the second picket, place it against the first, and secure it with screws or nails. As you continue installing more pickets, occasionally check the alignment of your pickets with a level. Use two or three fasteners for each rail.

Check her for additional tips on building a redwood fence.

Building and Putting Up a Wooden Fence Gate

Putting up a wooden fence takes quite a bit of time and requires a great deal of labor, from waiting for concrete to set in fence post holes to making sure pickets are installed evenly. However, most people wish to install a gate or two on their fence, which also takes more time, labor, and resources. But it’s worth it in the end.

So, how does one go about installing a gate on their fence? Let us guide you through the process. It’s actually easier than you might expect.

Start by measuring and preparing the frame for your gate. You’re going to create a rectangular frame using 2×4 pressure-treated boards and corner brackets. Secure the boards together using exterior-grade deck screws.

For extra stability, add a 2×4 board going at a diagonal from one corner of the frame to another corner. Before securing it in place with deck screws, you more than likely are going to need to cut the board to fit using a circular saw.

Then, you’re going to add the hinges. On the hinge side of the fence, add a fence picket going to the edge of the gate frame. Proceed by attaching a hinge on both the top and bottom, drilling pivot holes prior to using the screws that came with your gate hinges.

Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to begin installing pickets on the frame of your wooden fence gate. You’ll also want to attach a latch and handle on one side of your gate.

While this step of fence-building might seem like a hassle, installing a simple wooden gate is a relatively quick and straightforward process in comparison to putting up a wooden fence from start to finish. And of course, a fence gate serves an important purpose and will come to be quite useful.

Finishing & Staining – Maintenance

Finishing and staining your wooden fence is perhaps the funnest part of the project. You also might find it to be one of the easier parts too. However, it’s still critical to allow us to guide you through the process to ensure you get the job done right the first time around.

First, add a wood preservative around the base of each fence post. Wood preservatives are designed to prevent the wood from rotting. If your fence was constructed with pressure-treated wood, don’t worry about waterproofing or preserving your fence.

Wait for the wood to completely dry before you apply your finish or stain to your fence.

Now comes the part where you’ll be actually applying the finish or stain. Typically, one coat will be enough. However, you’re going to want to apply a new coat every few years to keep your fence in top-notch condition.

When applying a new coat to your wooden fence as a form of maintenance, use a special wood or fence cleaner and pressure washer to clean your fence the day before you apply the new coat. Follow any other guidelines set by the manufacturer of the stain or finish you’re choosing to use.

As for maintaining or avoiding damage to your wooden fence, there are many things you can do. Protect your fence from sun damage with an application of a polyurethane sealant, use glue to fix minor damage like cracks or splits, use a concrete spur to reinforce posts with heavier damages, and tighten loose boards.

Maintenance might seem time-consuming and annoying. However, with proper care and maintenance over the years, you can expect your wood fence to last approximately 20 years. Nobody wants a damaged, faded, or wobbly fence. Talk about an eyesore.

Rules & Permits & Regulations

This is the part of putting up a wooden fence that you might hate, but it’s absolutely critical if you want to keep your fence. Failure to follow the rules and regulations and get any necessary permits can result in being forced to tear down your fence and/or being fined.

That said, it’s wise that even before planning your wooden fence project you make yourself familiar with local building codes, regulations, and ordinances. You can conduct research online or even directly consult local departments, committees, and the like regarding the rules and regulations about fences in your area.

If you live in a private community like a homeowners association (HOA), be sure to look over their separate rules and regulations as well as they might override the city’s. The color, materials, and other components of your fence might be restricted within your community, with or without approval from the association first.

It’s also important for you to check to see if you need a permit before you install a wood fence. Getting a fence permit from city hall can save you from getting caught later down the road if you build without a permit. And if you get caught, you’ll have to obtain a permit either way, so you might as well get one from the get-go.

Another reason to obtain a permit from the city is that you’ll receive a copy of the rules regarding fences in your locality. For instance, this will clearly discuss any regulations regarding property line setbacks, allowable fence heights, and so on and so forth.

The last thing you’d want is to spend countless hours putting together your fence only to be forced to remove it or make serious modifications to it. That said, follow all rules, laws, regulations, and the like. They’re there for a reason, and you will get caught if your fence isn’t up to code.

Guidelines for Constructing a Wooden Fence

Just “winging it” isn’t going to work when putting up a wooden fence on your own. Rather, there are certain things you need to or should be doing to ensure your project ends up exactly as you envision.

Consider the following pieces of advice for a smooth wood fence-building project before beginning:

  • Research privacy fence ideas online for brainstorming purposes.
  • Follow local building codes/laws and homeowners association rules (if applicable). If you’re in an HOA community, you may need permission from them first or be restricted altogether from building a particular style or type of fence.
  • Find out if you need a permit – and get one if you do.
  • Know the property lines and boundaries. Even if you think you know, it doesn’t hurt to double-check just to be on the safe side.
  • Communicate with your neighbors about your fence project, even if you believe they’ll be okay with it. You might even need written permission.
  • Determine gate post locations.
  • Map out your wood fence project on graph paper. You can always make amendments where you see fit. Making changes, however, becomes a lot more difficult once you actually begin your project.
  • Gather help from family or friends to get the project done quicker and more efficiently.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Putting Up a Wooden Fence

Safety Precautions for Installing a Wooden Fence

Safety should be of utmost importance when you install a wood fence. With many dangerous tools and materials involved, from electric tools to splintery wood and sharp screws, you’re going to want to be as careful as possible. Being cautious can help you avoid an expensive and painful trip to the emergency room.

Here are a few safety precautions to consider before and while working on your project:

  • Never skip out on wearing safety glasses, gloves, and earplugs – even if you’ve built fences in the past. Accidents and mistakes are always possibilities.
  • Unfamiliar with how to use a particular tool that you need to use for putting up a wooden fence? Become familiar before using it to prevent avoidable injuries or errors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Fence panels and dry concrete bags weigh over 50 pounds. Always lift these items from your legs while keeping your back straight. If you are unable to carry these items on your own safely, consider getting assistance from another individual.
  • Be careful when operating power tools around children or pets. To avoid dangers, we recommend never leaving power tools within reach for children or animals to accidentally activate. In addition, it’s critical to always take advantage of guards on your power tools when leaving tools unattended.

Building a Wooden Fence on Your Own

Choosing to install a wood fence or build a fence extension on your own can be a great way to save money while gaining new skills. Whether you wish to build a fancy redwood fence or wish to cut costs with a simple pine or cedar fence, your options for building your own fence are virtually endless. Your project, your rules.

For you, installing a new fence means more privacy, greater security, and a more attractive property. Luckily, this goal of yours doesn’t have to be difficult to obtain. There are countless privacy fence ideas online for you to refer to as you build your dream fence from the ground up.

With the right tools, equipment, knowledge, and safety considerations, you’ll have your brand-new wooden fence in no time. In the end, building your own fence can be very much worth every ounce of sweat you put into the project. Your hard work and hours spent on your fence project will pay off tremendously.

Hiring a Wood Fence Contractor in Sacramento, CA

While building your own wooden fence can be a rewarding process and save you money, we understand that not everyone will have the capability or time capacity to undertake this project themselves. Hiring a top-rated wooden fence contractor in Sacramento to do the job for you is your best bet for guaranteeing quality craftsmanship that will last for decades. If you’re interested in getting a fence installed around your property, contact Classic Fence Co today at (916) 330-1144 or submit an online form.



Hiring a top-rated wooden fence contractor in Sacramento to do the job for you is your best bet for guaranteeing quality craftsmanship that will last for decades. If you’re interested in getting a fence installed around your property, contact Classic Fence Co today at (916) 330-1144 or submit an online form.

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