How to Build a Timber Fence

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How to Build a Timber Fence

A timber fence can be a great addition to any backyard, providing privacy while retaining a natural and organic appearance. Though the endeavour will require time and muscle, its supplies are straightforward, and the steps involved are not overly complicated, making it a suitable DIY project for even novice builders.


Required Materials

  • Pressure-treated timber posts (90 mm x 90 mm recommended)
  • Pressure-treated timber planks (45 mm x 90 mm recommended)
  • Sole plates
  • Plumb-bob or vertical leveler
  • Chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Quick-drying cement
  • Large bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Wooden stakes
  • Measuring tape
  • Marking string
  • Post-hole auger
  • Hammer
  • Galvanised fencing nails


Planning the Fence

Mark out the desired dimensions of the fence by driving wooden stakes into the ground at each desired corner. Connect the stakes with marking string to establish the line of the fence, and set wooden stakes at regular intervals along its length to determine where the additional posts will be located. Space each post 1.5 to 2 metres apart.

When ordering the timber, have the posts cut to your desired fence height, adding at least 300 mm for the depth that will be buried below ground. Have the planks cut according to the spacing used between the poles, plus the pole’s width. For example, if you are using the recommended 90 mm x 90 mm posts spaced 2 metres apart, each plank should be cut to 2.09 m in length.


Installing the Posts

Using the post-hole auger, dig a hole at each wooden stake at least 300 mm deep. Place a sole plate in the bottom of each hole, levelling the dirt beneath it as necessary to ensure a flat, even surface. Centre a timber post in the hole, using the plumb-bob or vertical leveler to ensure it is properly upright. Fill the hole with a 50/50 mixture of cement powder and the loose soil that’s been dug out, completely surrounding the post up to the ground level. Add water to the hole according to the cement package instructions and allow to dry. The post may need to be braced with sandbags or other heavy objects while the concrete is drying.


Installing the Rails

Once the posts have dried solidly in place, begin installing the rails, starting at one corner and working to the enter end of the fence line. On the side of the posts that will be outside the fenced-off area, measure the exact centre line and mark it with chalk down the entire length.

Always install the rails from the top down to ensure an even fence line, as planks can be skipped or altered at the ground level if necessary without impacting the fence’s visual appearance.

Position the first plank horizontally on one side of the chalked post centre line, matching it with the corresponding line on the adjacent post. Once positioned, secure it with the galvanised fencing nails, using two nails for each end of the plank. Each plank will be secured in this way, in a horizontal orientation terminating at the centre line of each post.

Working one fence section at a time, continuing installing the planks from top to bottom. To leave room for weathering and any water swelling, include at least 5 mm of space between each plank, although up to 20 mm may be included while still retaining privacy.

Continue down the fence line, working to ensure that each section’s planks line up horizontally with the next section’s planks maintain a neat visual appearance.

Once completed, the fence can be stained or painted as desired.

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