How to Build a Fence


My fence has been falling down for some time. The last two years the severe Kansas winds have really done a number on it though never enough that we couldn’t patch it. We decided this was the year it needed to be totally replaced, before the whole thing falls down.

Step 1: Materials

Picking the type of wood your fence is made out of is pretty simple.

Choice A: Types of Cedar can last 15-30 years without additional treatment. Cedar naturally deters pests (ie. cedar chests). They have a rich color that naturally fades to a muddy gray. Cedar can be very expensive though, almost twice as much as the next choice pressure treated pine.

Choice B: Pressure treated pine is much cheaper and much more common. The chemicals it is treated with extends the life of the wood by 10-20 years. It is a natural wood color but may have a green tinge due to the chemicals.

Choice C: The cheapest choice is spruce, but we procured our materials from Home Depot and did not see that they carried this type of wood.

We went with pressure treated pine due to cost. The slats were on sale at Home Depot for $1.20 each.

  • I bought roughly 2.5 pallets of slats
  • We used 40 – 4”X4” posts also pressure treated pine.
  • We used 70 –  2”x4”X8’ and 8 – 2”x4”x10’ also pressure treated pine.
  • Some 3,000 nails and 500 is screws.
  • We also used 30 bags of 60lb. Kwikcrete Concrete.
  • You will also need some gravel, which I had from a previous project. We used 1”-2” drainage gravel.
  • We purchased two gate kits to help with gate construction.


  • hammers – heavy duty
  • drill – cordless
  • circular saw – cordless
  • reciprocating saw – cordless
  • saw blades – for metal and wood
  • pry bar
  • gloves
  • safety glasses
  • level – large 30”
  • post level
  • pencils
  • saw horses
  • measuring tape
  • motorized auger (rented)
  • shovels
  • sledge hammer


Step 2: Fence Removal

We had three people for this step and it took 4 hours to get the visible portion of the fence down. Scott cut the fence down in 8’X6’-ish  sections and we sold it on craigslist. We pulled out posts where we could but mostly cut them down.

We then had to dig out the concrete and post ends where the four corners of the fence would remain. This was extremely labor intensive. This is where the shovels and sledge hammers came in handy.



Step 3: Posts

To put in the new posts we had to avoid the old posts that were left in the ground. We never even considered removing the non corner posts because we were short on time and the time and energy needed were not available. So, we marked roughly 6-10 feet between posts, to avoid old posts and to accommodate for gates. We didn’t but you should use a chalk line to mark the wall to make a guild line to help you make sure it is straight. We rented a gas powered auger with an 8 inch bit from the Home Depot Equipment rental. It cost $40 for 3 hours. This was a two man auger and was really helpful in speeding up the digging process, especially with all the clay in Kansas.

The auger can be a bit unruly and get out of line so the posts holes may need to be shaved and shaped up with a shovel to get all the posts in line. This is crucial if you want a straight fence.

A shovel full of gravel was used at the bottom of each hole for drainage. Then place in the 4”x 4” post and use the post level to make sure it is level. Then dump ½ to ¾ of a bag of concrete in, depending on the size of the hole, and add the appropriate amount of water. You many want to poke a few holes with a stick to make sure the water fuller permeates the powder. Let the posts stand for at least 24 hours to ensure stability.


Step 4: Rails

Our fence is a 6 ft privacy fence so we placed our rails on the outside of the posts. One section was level however I had two sections that are on inclines and required us to eyeball where the rails belonged. We just used the level and the previous posts to make the completely level section however on the other two we would just gauge how far from the ground we would need to be to still have good stability nailing in the slats.

Step 5: Slats

This was probably the most time consuming portion. Remember your slates are not all perfect so you will need to gauge if they are getting crooked. We put up the slates with one nails space between all of them but found ourselves having to gradually correct the alignment periodically. A tool belt is pretty handy at this stage so your nails are handy. We could have had two people nailing in slats but this may cause the fence to look different in each persons sections as each persons “artistic” sentiment will vary. Instead I held up slats and was in charge of making sure we were following the incline as Scott nailed them in.


Step 6: Gates

We used a gate kit but splurged for more decorative hinges that were bigger than the ones provided in the kit. Our doors are not exact sizes and require some artistic wood-working. The doors are also crazy heavy and will wear on the post the hinges are anchored in so make sure to reinforce this post.

Step 7: Upkeep

Per the internet you need to wait a year before painting or staining a pressure treated wood fence. This is because the wood needs to dry out from the pressure treatment before you paint/stain to prevent any moisturizer from getting trapped and rotting the wood from the inside out. So we already have work lined up for next year. Fences need to be power washed and re painted/stained ever couple of years. This will greatly extend their lifespan and prevent mold and other deteriorating effects.

In Conclusion:

This project was a true testament to my relationship with my boyfriend. My perfectionism came directly up against his craftsmanship. We definitely needed more communication but it was hard to get everything we needed done and also be constantly communicating so in the end there was a lot of miscommunication. Also it was hard for me to remember that while my boyfriend was the foreman this was also the first time he had ever done this so some mistakes were made and I had a hard time letting go of the things we could not change.
I’ll leave you with this piece of advice: If you want to build a good relationship, build a literal fence with your significant other.

This site had good pictures for building a fence.


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