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How to Build a Wood Privacy Fence

Instructions for building a wood privacy fence, including setting posts, installing railings and slats and installing the gate.

Board-on-board is an efficient design that looks good from either side.

A privacy fence does more than simply keep people out -- it defines your property line, protects your landscaping from stray animals and provides a backdrop for some of your landscaping features.  You have a couple of tasks to accomplish before building one, including choosing a [style](http://wwwa1-fencecom/7-popular-types-of-wood-privacy-fences/), comparing prices and shopping for lumber.

Building the fence is a good weekend project for you and your family or friends. 

Board-on-board is an efficient design that looks good from either side.

Before You Start

Taking care of a few details before you start building can save much grief later. 

* Find out where your **property lines** are.  Encroachment may not bother your current neighbor, but you can't be sure the next one will be as amenable  * Consider your **style options and price** each one.

Board-on-board is the most common style, but you may also consider one with butting vertical or horizontal slats or a  board-and-batten design * **Check the local ordinances** that regulate fence height and style to make sure your plans don't violate any  * **[Call 811](http://call811com/how-811-works/)** to get information about buried electricity and telephone cables and water pipes. 


Setting the Posts

The posts are the backbone of the fence, and they must be strong, especially to support a heavy privacy fence in high winds. 

Secure each post with braces while the concrete sets.

* **Lay out the perimeter** of the fence with a string and space the posts slightly less than 8 feet apart to prevent sagging.  The spacing may have to be less when you install the gate posts or come to a corner of the fence  * Dig holes with a **post hole digger and shovel**.

They should be deep enough to bury each post for one-third of its length.  For example, if the final height of a post needs to be 8 feet, you need to bury a 12-foot post 4 feet in the ground  * Use **pressure-treated** four-by-fours for the posts and set each one in concrete  * Dig each hole an extra few inches deeper than you need so you can pour in gravel for drainage.


Installing the Rails and Slats

You need a top and bottom rail between each pair of posts.  Use rough-sawn redwood or cedar for best weather tolerance.

If you use non-pressure-treated pine or fir, keep in mind you must paint it, or it will quickly deteriorate. 

Plumb each slat with a level.

* **Measure** the distance between each pair of posts with a tape measure and cut each rail to the proper length with a circular saw * Screw the rails to the posts with 3-inch exterior-grade wood screws.  Use a **level** to make sure each rail is horizontal, and space adjacent rails on the same post the same distance from the ground.

When installing the slats on a board-on-board design, aim for a 1- to 2-inch overlap.  The smaller the overlap, the less wood you'll need, but **a large overlap provides more privacy**.

* Use a level to **check for plumb on each slat** and to level the top with that of the adjacent slat before you attach it * Attach each slat with 1 5/8-inch exterior wood screws.  Drive two screws into the top rail and two into the bottom .


Constructing the Gate

The gate should fit snugly between the gate posts with about 1/2 inch to spare.  It helps to construct the frame on the ground, hang it on hinges and fine-tune it before affixing the slats.

* **Start attaching slats on the outside edge of the gate**.  If you have to trim the last one to make it fit, it will be on the hinge side, where it isn't as noticeable  * **Attach the latch and handle last**, once you're sure everything fits and the gate swings freely.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wood slats
  • Wood posts
  • Post hole digger
  • 2-by-4 boards
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Wood stain

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.