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How to Erect Fence Panels: An Essential Guide

February 3rd, 2011

fence-panel-building.jpgA well-erected fence goes beyond merely denoting the edge of a property. A fence can afford privacy, provide a safe environment for children or animals by preventing them from straying too far, and offer some small protection against intruders by discouraging easy access to your yard.

Modern fences have grown up. There are many designs and materials to choose from, including ecologically sustainable bamboo. A well-designed and properly built fence can be a fashionable addition to your home. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of putting it up. A little planning, and perhaps some muscle power from friends, is all you need.

Tools and Equipment Required

  1. Electric hammer drill
  2. Selection of drill bits
  3. Hammer
  4. Masonry bit
  5. Post-hole auger or spade (if concreting post in)
  6. Safety gloves
  7. Spirit level
  8. Garden string
  9. Patented hammering tool (if using post spikes)

How to Erect Fence Panels – Planning the Work

The best time to put up a fence is either spring or autumn so that any plants that have been damaged have opportunity to recuperate.

Manufactured fence panels are commonly made to 1.8 metre (6 ft.) length. They are generally obtainable in four heights, 900mm (3 ft.), 1.2 metre (4 ft.), 1.52 metre (5 ft.) and 1.8 metre (6 ft.). Ornate screens are available either as whole panels or for fitting along the top of a fence panel.

Before purchasing the fence posts, determine whether you want to erect them in concrete or by using post supports. Concreting the posts into the ground will make the fence very sturdy. Bear in mind that concreting does involve significant work, and the posts need to be 600mm (2 ft.) longer than the height of the panels. Using metal post supports is not quite as sturdy as concreting but enables a fence to be erected fairly quickly. The total expenditure will be about the same no matter which method is used.

The Route of the Fence

Determine the course of the fence panels by stretching garden string between stakes at the extremities. Make sure the fence posts will be on your side of the boundary. Remove unwanted undergrowth and plants from the route.

Nearly all fence panels and posts are treated by the manufacturers to inhibit decay and insect infestation. Nevertheless, if concreting the stakes into soil, it is worth immersing the ends in wood preservative for several hours and then drying them before use.

Erecting the First Post

The first post will be the datum for the entire fence. It is essential to set it vertical to ensure the fence runs in a straight line. Take your time and be certain. When the run of a fence slopes it is easier to install it downwards, so select the highest point for the first post. If the the slope is small and the fence extends up to the house, it is probably worth fastening the first post to the building to be sure of having a full panel.

Using the House for the First Post

In the fence post, drill countersunk holes large enough to accept the head of a bolt and a socket spanner. Make these holes about 25mm (1 inch) deep. In the centre of each of these countersunk holes, drill bolt holes right through the post. Test that the post is vertical with a spirit level. Wedge the fence post against the wall or have someone hold it firmly. Pencil the position of the holes, then using a hammer drill and masonry bit, drill holes in the masonry for the wall anchors. Bolt the post to the wall. If required, insert packing between the post and the wall to make sure the post is vertical in both planes.

How to Erect Fence Posts Using Concrete

  • Cut a batten of wood the length of a fence panel to use as a marker.
  • Following the string line, use the batten to mark where each post will be.
  • Dig a hole for each post, or use a post-hole auger to bore a hole in the soil.
  • Ram stones into the bottom of the holes as foundations for the posts.
  • Use a spirit level to set the first post vertical in its hole, then prop the post with wooden stays to keep it in place.
  • Force hard-core around the post until the hole is half full.
  • When you are sure the post is vertical, fill the hole with concrete using 1 part cement, 2.5 parts sand, and 3.5 parts aggregate.
  • Place two bricks or blocks on the ground exactly on the fence run. Put a length of wood across them and make sure they are horizontal.
  • Sit a fence panel on the bricks and glide it to the post.
  • Check that the panel is horizontal then attach it to the post with rust-proof nails hammered in at an angle. Alternatively, secure the panel with patented fence clips, fastened to the side of the post.
  • Put the next post into its hole, attach it to the fence panel, and hold the post in place with wooden stays.
  • Ram stones into the hole and concrete the post as before.
  • Alternate between erecting posts and panels, always employing bricks to prop up panels between posts to support it whilst the next post is erected.

How to Erect Fence Panels Using Fence Post Supports

Choose the type of support that best suits your site. There are spiked post supports for driving into soft ground, and post supports with a flat surface and bolt holes if you are erecting on patios or drives.

Spiked Supports

If the majority of the route is on soil, you will need spiked supports. These are pounded in with a sledge hammer. To prevent spoiling the lip of the spiked support, use a patented hammering tool that mounts inside the socket and stops damage. Cut a batten of wood the length of a fence panel to use as a marker. Following the string line, use the batten to mark where each post will be. Hammer the spike until the foot of the socket is on the ground. Make regular checks to make sure that the spiked support is going in upright. If it begins to twist out of line, realign it. After fully inserting the support, if you find it isn’t aligned correctly, force it out and start again. Trying to adjust it at this stage will only loosen it.

Bolt-Down Supports

If you employ bolt-down post supports across a patio, you must drill holes in the paving to accept anchor bolts. Use packing to make the posts vertical.

Don’t forget to lay a spirit level along the top of each panel to check that it is horizontal before fixing it to the posts. When the fence is completely fitted, finish the job by attaching capping strips to the top of each post to prevent ingress of rain and to create a neat appearance.

Conclusion

A well erected fence is not as difficult as it might at first seem, but hauling fence panels and putting up posts is heavy work and it will be better if you have people to give assistance.

Careful aligning is perhaps the most significant factor in making it a success story. As the fence progresses, remember to check that posts are vertical, and panels horizontal. Keeping the fence in a straight line creates professionalism.


This article on building fence panels was supplied by A.J. Barnett from Constant Content.


One Response to “How to Erect Fence Panels: An Essential Guide”

  1. comment number 1 by: hurbetpanels

    First Fence provides permanent and temporary fencing throughout the UK, including heras fencing, palisade fencing, crowd control barriers, highway barriers and more. We can supply, deliver, and install our fencing and barriers nationwide through our fleet of vehicles.

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