Installing fence panels is a straightforward job if you take your time and work methodically, measuring carefully and ensuring levels are correct throughout. It becomes a two person job only when lifting and sliding the panels into place and just a few everyday tools are necessary.
- Screwdriver (preferably cordless)
- Galvanized screws
- Spirit Level
- Tape Measure and Pencil
- Watering Can or Bucket
You'll also require the appropriate number of posts, gravel boards, U clips, and some short lengths of wood to act as stakes to temporarily keep the posts in place.
Concrete or Spikes
When erecting the fence on open ground, you need to choose between securing the posts with fast setting concrete or spikes that attach to the bottom of each post. For a hard surface or decking, you can use 'bolt downs' For the purposes of this guide, we'll assume the fence is on open ground, you've chosen to use concrete and panels are a standard 6ft wide.
Digging Post Holes
Before starting to dig any post holes, you need to clear any vegetation that will obstruct the fence. Dig the first post hole which should be approximately 2ft deep. Note that when you buy the posts, their length should take into account the depth of the hole plus any gravel board plus the height of the fence panel. At the bottom of the hole a small quantity of gravel will improve drainage and lessen the chance of rot. For the same reason, the bottom 2ft of the post should be treated with preservative before it is placed in the hole.
Concreting The Posts
Place the post in the hole and use a spirit level on two sides to ensure it is straight and upright. Stabilize it by attaching a small stake and add fast setting concrete with water to the hole. As this is very dusty it's worth wearing safety glasses. When the concrete is setting, run a trowel around the top to form a ridge so that rainwater runs away from the post. It's a good idea from this starting position to run a taut length of string along the proposed path of the fence to ensure you follow a straight line. Measure six feet and dig the next hole to the same depth and use the same method to erect the post. Assuming you are working on level ground, in addition to making sure the post is upright you also need to check it is level in height with the previous post before concreting. A long straight wooden baton placed between the top of each post and spirit level are useful for this task.
Inserting The Panels
First you must attach U clips or similar fittings to the inside of each post to secure the gravel board that sits on the ground below the fence panels, making sure it is level. If you are not using a gravel board, there must be a gap between the panel and the ground to avoid rot. Then attach U clips approximately 6ins above the gravel board and below the top of the post with perhaps one in the middle using galvanized screws. Slide the panel into place, secure it and the stake can be removed. An alternative would be using H posts instead of standard fence posts. These do not require U clips as they already have a groove into which the panels slide. Repeat this process along the length of the fence. If there's not enough space at the end of the fence for a whole panel, measure the gap, remove the reinforcement baton and move it to the proposed new width. Then cut the panel (and gravel board) to size.