A Step By Step Guide To Building Your Picket Fence

Deciding to build a picket fence is a smart move. Picket fences are timeless, and add much charm and value to a home. Before you start though, make sure you have everything you need to do the job. Your checklist should include:

  • Stakes
  • String
  • Shovel or post hole digger
  • Fence posts
  • Gravel
  • Spirit level and concrete
  • Pickets (of course!)
  • Paint or stain
  • Galvanised nails/screws
  • Pencil
  • Hammer and nails, or nail gun

Step 1: Pick the site – You should always check your boundaries with the council, and ask about local regulations which might require a permit. Better to do that now, than pull down the fence later because you’re in breach of local bylaws. Also, check before you dig any post holes, as who knows what power cables or pipes are down there?

Step 2: Plan the layout – Your picket fence might be designed to add aesthetic value to your home, or to increase security and privacy. Knowing the function of the fence will help you make a plan and calculate the right number of pickets you need e.g.,a fence built to enhance privacy will have pickets closer together, so you’ll need more of them. A fence built to bolster security might require taller pickets – something else to consider during this stage.

Step 3: Measure and set the first post -Connect a taut string as a guide for the path of the fence. Mark the spot for the first outside post near the end of the string and dig a hole at least half a metre deep.  Make the holes double the width of the posts to allow for adjustments. Before you concrete the posts into position, add 50 ml of gravel to the bottom of each hole

Step 4: Set the remaining posts – It’s easier to install the end post first, followed by the line posts. These should be spaced at intervals of two metres and, again, add 50 ml of gravel to the bottom of each hole

Step 5: Install the rails – Use galvanised nails or screws to fasten the rails to the posts: the bottom rail at 150 mm from the bottom and the top rail at 50 mm from the top of the post. Add strength by checking the rails into the posts by using a housing joint. Measure the height and width of the rails and using a hand saw, cut into the post and chisel out the middle section until it is completely clean. Insert the rail and hammer into the post.

Step 6: Install the pickets– Using your layout plan as a guide, measure where each of the pickets should go along the rails. Mark with a pencil, and you can also use a block of wood asa spacer to ensure all pickets are perfectly even. Fasten each picket to therails using galvanised nails.

Step 7: Paint – Traditional white is the most popular choice but feel free to paint different colours on different posts, or choose a colour that blends in with the landscaping or your home. You might try and save time by using two coats of topcoat instead of priming. However, a primer provides better adhesion which means the top coat will last much longer. One way to save hours and hours of painting is to use pre-primed Motueka Pickets, made by MLC Group. These pickets only require a good quality acrylic top coat to complete the job.

Also check our animated video for more information:

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