Building a fence that will last is almost exactly the same as building any regular fence. The differences mostly involve the materials used but extra attention should be given to HOW the fence is built as well. A fence that lasts cost a little more at first but will save you money in the future.
Advantages of Long Lasting Fences
The advantages of building a fence that lasts include:
- LOOKS BETTER for LONGER
- Lower total life-time cost
- You might be able to re-use your posts for your next fence
- Your neighbors will think you are cool (maybe)
Steps to Build a Fence that will Last
1. Choose Your Fence Layout (same as regular)
2. Mark the Fence Corners (same as regular)
3. Stretch a String Between Corners (same as regular)
4. Set Your Heavily Treated or Coated Fence Posts
5. Add 3 Fence Rails (not two) Using Screws
6. Add a “Rot Board”
7. Add Gate
8. Add Fence Pickets Using Screws
Most Common Fence Building Mistake
After more than seven years in the construction business I can tell you easily and confidently the most common mistake made when building a fence.
– First-Cost Sensitivity –
Probably 90% of the people building a fence choose the cheapest materials available. I understand that building a fence is not fun or cool and I would always rather be doing something else but that is exactly the reason to use better materials and build a fence that lasts longer.
For a total of 35% more cost, you can make a fence lasts twice as long and will look great, too.
How to Build a Long Lasting Fence
This is the breakdown by components of what you can do to make a longer lasting fence. You don’t have to do everything listed below. In fact, the most important improvements are highlighted so you can jump ahead if you want. If you want more details about building a long lasting fence, read a complete article about how to build a fence that lasts at LumberTalk.com.
Used coated fence posts. The posts are the foundation of your entire fence so choose the best. The biggest weakness of fence posts is that they rot at the ground line. The best fence post currently available is a treated wood fence post with a polymer coating on the bottom 3′ made by American Pole and Timber. Their poly coated fence posts have a 25 year warranty so you can probably use them again when you replace your fence – saving you time and labor expenses.
Use three rails. That’s it. Repeat after me. “Use three rails.” Using three rails will greatly reduce the tendency of your fence pickets to warp and generally generally reduces stress on the joints where the rails meet the posts and where the pickets are connected to the rails. Using three rails is what will make your fence look better for longer.
Use a rot board. A rot board is a 2×6 or 2×8 installed horizontally along the ground line and below your pickets. The rot board lifts your pickets off the ground to protect them from moisture, insects, and weed eaters. They are easily replaced, which is the idea – much easier than replacing all of your pickets. Simply using a rot board will add a few years to the life of your fence.
Use treated pickets which is standard. You can also use cedar or redwood pickets but those get very expensive. Regular pickets are 5/8″ thick but if you can find 3/4″ thick pickets, get them. If you do the math, 3/4″ pickets are 25% thicker which means they will generally warp less.
Use coated screws. Screws will not pull out like nails and coated screws will not rust and cause “run” marks down your pickets. The commitment with using screws to build your fence is less about money and more about the extra time you’ll spend during your initial installation. If you need inspiration, just imagine how great your straight fence will look in five years and how much you will enjoy sipping lemonade while your neighbor is replacing his warped fence boards because he used nails.
There are the basics of building a fence that will last longer. If you did not catch the most important parts then here they are again:
- Use poly coated fence posts
- Use three rails
- Use a rot board
- Use screws
If you have any questions, read the full article on LumberTalk.com and post a question in the comments section. I will respond as quickly as possible.