Tips on Installing a Fence

By: Danny Lipford

White picket fence.

Installing a fence is a project that many homeowners feel comfortable taking on themselves. You may have to enlist the help of some neighbors but with a little elbow grease and by carefully following manufacturer’s instructions, most fences can be installed around an average sized yard in one weekend.

As with all home improvement projects it is a good idea to carefully plan your project, and as a courtesy, discuss with your neighbors what you intend to do. Then when you are just about to begin the project there are three very important things you must do:

  1. Location: Check on the exact location of your property lines.
  2. Permission: Obtain all necessary building and zoning permits required in your town.
  3. Utility Lines: Before digging locate all underground utility lines by calling 811 to have utility companies come out and mark the location of lines.

Steps for Installation

Depending on the type of fence you choose the exact installation process will vary and you should always follow the manufacturers instructions (usually provided with the product or available at their website). But in general the process for installing a fence is the same:

Danny Lipford plumbing fence post.

  1. Determine location of all posts, measure and mark the spots
  2. Dig holes for posts being sure to make the hole wider at the bottom
  3. Mix & Pour Cement
  4. Secure Post in Cement allowing 24 hours to dry
  5. Attach Fence panels to fence
  6. Secure Gate and finishing hardware

Tools Necessary

Again depending on the exact type of fence you intend to install the tools required will vary slightly, but in general the following list covers just about everything you might need when building a new fence:

  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Mason String
  • Sledge Hammer or mallet
  • Post Hole Diggers (or rent a gas powered auger)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Additional basic tools, such as: screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches etc.

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12 Comments on “Tips on Installing a Fence”

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  • Official Comment:


    Lindsay Hughes Says:
    August 5th, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Alex, check out our video on how to set fence posts: http://www.todayshomeowner.com/video/how-to-set-fence-posts-in-your-yard/



  • Alex Lane Says:
    August 4th, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Thank you for the help. My wife and I are hoping to install a fence in our yard soon. We have the general location in mind, as you addressed. However, I am not sure how to determine where the posts themselves should go. Since I have never done this, should I hire a professional?



  • April Cook Says:
    June 28th, 2016 at 11:06 am

    We need a new fence around our yard, and we were thinking of trying to do it ourselves. After reading these steps I think we might be better off hiring a fencing company to do it for us! Just the first step of measuring and marking the spots seems to hard for me! If I hire someone, will they take care of the permits and utility line information or will I need to do that? Thanks for this great information!



  • Braden Bills Says:
    March 31st, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I’m trying to decide how I’m going to install a fence on my new property. I’ll make sure that I have the right location of my property lines before having this done. Originally I was going to install it myself, but it seems pretty complicated, so I’ll stick to a professional. Thanks for sharing!



  • Keith Lundeen Says:
    September 18th, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    It’s great you’ve made this general guide to installing fencing yourself. I’m sure you’ve saved people lots of trouble with their own home projects. It’s been a while since I’ve added a fence line myself, I just wanted to brush up on the process. Thanks for reminding me about electrical lines. Thank you for this!



  • Terry Goldmen Says:
    May 27th, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Number three on the first things is so important. My brother tried to dig a hole for a project, and was electrocuted because he hit the electrical line! Luckily he seems just fine, but he was in the hospital for a few days.



  • Bryan Flake Says:
    March 9th, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Your tip on calling the utility company to check on utility lines is the best idea ever. The last thing I would want is to hit a power or water line. Those are problems I’d never be able to fix. I didn’t know that I could simply dial 411. I thought it would be specific to my local company.



  • rodger hanssen Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 10:14 am

    i would like some ideas on some wooden gates i put up a 6 ft dogeared fence and i m not sure what to do about a gate



  • Fence Wizard Says:
    January 14th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Danny,
    Excellent Article. I have compiled some additional links for your readers who are looking to install fence – this is the most complete do it yourself link list I know of:
    I can’t make the Links active here – but they are active at: http://www.fencewizard.blogspot.com

    Red Brand Animal Fence Install Sheets
    KenCove Horse Fence Install Menu
    Child Guard Pool Fence Guide
    Prestige Pool Fence Step by Step Guide
    Universal Forest Prodcut Wood Fence Guide
    Short Run Pro Wood Fence Install
    Vinyl Fence Install
    Hoover Fence Aluminum Fence Guide
    “Fence It” Delgard Fence Install
    Hoover Fence Chain Link Install Guide
    American Fence Chain Link Install Guide
    Allan Block Fence Install
    American Fence Electric Fence Install
    Invisible Dog Fence How To
    Simtek / Mity Fence Install Guide
    Bamboo Fence Guide from Cali Bamboo
    Gardenstructure.com – Custom Fence and Deck Plans

    (again all links are active at http://www.fencewizard.blogspot.com)

    Thanks, and good luck with your fence installs!
    The Fence Wizard



  • Randall Says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks Nicholas, it came gloss black, though it would be easy to paint any color. I wanted the gloss black to match the gate which I painted with gloss black lacquer.
    I’m tempted to build a second one on the other side- this is at the house end of the driveway, and put a wood fence between them, but for now I have a 4′ wire fence there.

    It’s a lot of work hand digging down 40″, but maybe next summer.


  • Official Comment:


    Nicholas Roussos Says:
    July 16th, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Wow, that’s impressive. Did you have to paint the griffin or is that exactly how it came?



  • Randall Says:
    July 14th, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    I built and installed this gate and pier last week. The gate is composed of several commercially made cast-iron sections and elements I modified and welded together.
    The pier is common concrete block, due to the frost depth I had to dig down 40″ for a concrete footing for it- piers like this require a footing below the frost line or they will move from frost in the ground.

    The griffin- as a sculptor I could make one, but this was CHEAP- $80 made of aluminum and just the right size to fit on top of the 16″ square pier.

    You may need to copy/paste the url to see it.

    …gate-column.jpg


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