• Andrew Bargen

Learn what it takes to build a great fence!

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

Spring is a great time to start planning for the new fence you wished you had built last summer. Don't let this summer pass you by! Read on to learn about our method for fence-building success or get in touch if you'd rather we built it for you!

Our material of choice for fences is wood, and when built right, a wooden fence is durable, sustainable, and has long-lasting good looks.

Clean, attractive fence built with tan treated lumber.

Build the foundation right.

Post depth is critical. Problems with a fence leaning and heaving often arise after a few years when the fence posts were not installed correctly. Burying the fence post five to eight feet below grade for a six-foot-tall fence will give the fence the leverage it needs to be resilient against the wind, frost heaving, and your neighbour leaning over to chat.

For best results, the fence posts should be set with washed gravel, not concrete as is commonly done. Concrete is fine until the hole becomes enlarged from compaction or frost movement. This creates a permanent space between the hole bore and concrete that continues to allow movement.. Washed aggregate, on the other hand, will continue to settle and compact over time. The increased drainage from the gravel also reduces the risk of rot and frost jacking.

We were almost able to pull this problematic gate post out by hand.

Use the right materials.

Using proper materials goes a long way towards a durable fence. Only treated wood or a rot-resistant wood like cedar should be used in fence building. Treated fence posts should also be incised for further treatment penetration. In addition, for endurance, a fence built with treated ACQ lumber or cedar requires fasteners with a special coating or stainless steel fasteners to prevent corrosion.

Clean lines in the fence design make for an appealing structure.

Get the details right.

Paying attention to several details will increase the longevity of your fence.

  • When dealing with treated wood, make as few cuts as possible: the treatment does not run all the way through, and you will be exposing untreated material. Any cuts should be re-treated with a topical solution.

  • Pay close attention the end grain on the fence board when placing it against the fence rails (frame). Place the board with the grain curved away from the rail. This orientation will reduce the risk of the board splitting.

  • Treated lumber is generally quite wet. Boards that have been installed tight will usually end up with a 1/8" to 1/4" gap from drying. By accounting for this normal shrinkage you can achieve the spacing you require.

  • Although treated wood does fine without any coating, if you do plan on painting, let it weather for a year or two and then opt for a solid stain.

  • Don't forget about locating utility lines; you could be on the hook for a large bill if line locating was neglected and you damage a utility.

When corners aren't cut, and your fence is built to last, you will be able to relax and enjoy it for the years to come.

© 2020 Ardent Contracting

Red Deer, Alberta

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