New Search

Find Your Dream Home

Search Error

Multiple MLS Listings

Price Range


Bed & Bath

Bedrooms: All
Bathrooms: All


Making Fence-Building Worry-Free

Attract home buyers by building a fence. These instructions will get you going.

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®



A fence is often a wonderful way to attract attention to your home when you are getting it ready for sale. Its elements of security, beauty, and functionality can help your home stand out to the other for-sale home that doesn’t have the boundary wrapping the yard.


With one weekend and careful planning, you can fence in your yard and these steps will help you do just that.


Besides a rented posthole digger, you'll need only a circular saw and ordinary carpentry tools.


Designs vary widely, but just about all fences consist of the same basic elements: a series of posts sunk into the ground and connected by rails at the top, bottom, and usually in the middle as well; and fencing boards or panels that are nailed to the rails to give the fence its character. Privacy fences usually require 4 x 4 posts. Rail and fencing lumber can be almost any size. Lumber yards sell prefab sections of fence in many styles, but custom design and construction usually yield a better-looking fence.


Check Codes

Before you start to dig, dig into your community’s building and zoning codes. You must understand what materials you can and can’t use, height requirements and the distance that you can build in relation to your property line and the street.

Now it’s time to focus on your design. Determine what your yard needs most. Do you want privacy? Security? Visual appeal? You can choose from tall, privacy fences or four-foot structures that offer a boundary, but not privacy. While fence designs may vary, the framework is the same. You’ll be dealing with series of posts sunk into the ground and connected by rails-top, bottom, and usually in the middle as well; and fencing boards or panels that are nailed to the rails to give the fence its character.

You will need to stake out your location, taking into account the slope of your yard and how your fence will need to be adjusted to accommodate level changes. Plot post spacing to allow for the most efficient use of lumber.  Six- or seven-foot spans usually work well; never set privacy-fence posts more than 8 feet apart.



When you order lumber, specify construction-heart redwood or cedar or ground-contact, pressure-treated wood for all posts and bottom rails; upper rails and fencing can be less expensive grades of rot-resistant lumber. To minimize rust, buy hot-dip galvanized nails and fittings. If you want to paint or stain your fence, apply the finish to posts, rails, and fencing before you nail up the fencing. Besides saving time, you'll get better coverage.



1. Set the posts. Lay out the site, dig holes, and set posts, starting with the end posts. (For basic information on installing posts, see our Home Improvement Encyclopedia.) Check each post for plumb by holding a level to two adjacent faces; nail braces to hold posts upright. Check, too, that posts are aligned by tying string from end post to end post.

basics of Fencebuilding1

Build a Fence2

2. As you shovel concrete into the holes, have a helper tamp the concrete to remove bubbles. Round off the concrete so water will drain away from the posts. After the concrete cures, cut posts to a uniform height, if necessary. Shape tops of posts so they'll shed water.

Build a Fence3

3. Add rails. Attach the rails to the posts. We used galvanized rail clips. A line level and combination square assure that each rail is level and square with the posts.


4. Finish. Measure carefully and use a square to mark locations on the rails for each fencing board. Wood scraps squeezed between boards maintain uniform spacing. Have a helper align boards -- in this case flush with the bottom -- while you nail them to the rails.



Your Opinion

Conducting a property search may direct you to a Web site that is owned and operated by a Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate brokerage. The site will contain local listing information that meets your search criteria. Different terms of use and privacy policies will apply.

© Copyright 2014, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC.

All Rights Reserved. Better Homes and Gardens® is a registered trademark of Meredith Corporation licensed to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate office is independently owned and operated.