The story of dreaming of one day having a house with a white picket fence is a wonderful dream. Without doubt, picket fences add character and charm to a home and are an excellent way to build a barrier between the yard and the street with class. When it comes to picket fences, you will discover that you have multiple choices, from tall, privacy fences to smaller, decorative types. If you were interested in building your own picket fence, this would be a great project. The following materials would get you started:
Tape measure, Wood stakes, Hammer, Pneumatic nail gun, String for stretching between the stakes, Spray paint, Line level, Posthole digger, 4-inch x 4-inch posts, 2-inch by 4-inch boards, 1-inch by 4-inch pickets, Safety goggles, Work gloves, Gravel, 2-inch galvanized nails, and Galvanized screws.
When building a picket fence, the most important thing to remember is post placement. For instance, if the posts are not in proper alignment, then your entire fence will be crooked. Additionally, you need to check with your local building code to ensure you have all the proper permits and that you know your exact property lines.
Next, you want to measure the area where you will place the fence and then drive stakes into the ground at each of the corners. Using the string, stretch it between the stakes and then use a leveler to make sure the string is level. Now, to mark your post locations, use the spray paint to make a mark. Just be sure they are approximately 7 1/2-inches apart.
The postholes now need to be dug at the four corners you marked. The post digger should do the job just fine but if the dirt is hard, you can always rent a power auger. Just make sure you always wear safety goggles and work gloves for protection. For the exact size of the holes, this will vary, depending on the weight and height of the fence. Generally, you want to make the hold as deep as one-third the length of your fence post.
Before you put the posts in the ground, you want to put three inches of gravel in the bottom of the holes. This will ensure each hole has proper drainage. Next, use the posts to tamp the gravel down, place the pole, and make sure it is plumb. You will then pour fast-setting concrete into the hole, filling it to about two inches above ground level. Just be sure you slope it away from the post, which will help divert water. Once the posts are set, you would then use the concrete. The goal is to have completely sturdy poles that will withstand ground freeze, winds, and other forces. The next step is to stretch string between the posts, again making sure they are in alignment.
Once you have the post in place, put soil around the base, giving the overall design a neater and more polished look. Now measure the space between the posts, cutting the two-inch by four-inch boards to the desired lengths. You need these strings to be attached at the top and bottom of the posts, which will help support the pickets. Now, dry-fit the strings between the posts and then toenail them to the post, using two-inch galvanized nails. Additionally, remember that any nails and screws used for this project should be galvanized.
You will now need to determine how many pickets you need and then cut them to the appropriate size. You can even cut them in a special design of your choice. Prior to attaching the pickets to your stringers, you want to use the nail gun to set the pickets in position and then fasten them with screws. Just make sure the pickets are close together so that children and small pets will not become stuck, causing injury or worse. After you have completed this final step, you can then choose whatever color paint you want but just remember that weatherproof paint would be your best option.