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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Bargen

Learn what it takes to build a great fence!

Updated: May 17, 2020

Spring is a great time to start planning for a new fence. Don't let this summer pass you by! Read on to learn the basics of our fence building method or visit our fence page 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 fences leaning and heaving often arise after a only 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, fence posts should be set with washed gravel, not concrete as is commonly done. When posts are set with concrete the post hole can become enlarged from lateral loads on the post. This creates a permanent space between the hole bore and concrete that allows movement. Additionally, the rough surface of a concrete set fence post allows the frost to grab hold easily and heave the post. Washed aggregate, on the other hand, will increased drainage around the fence post and will reduce the risk of rot and frost jacking. A fence post set with gravel will not loosen up since the gravel can adjust and settle.

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, 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 this cedar fence 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 using a finish, let it weather for a few months and then opt for an outdoor oil like Osmo's Decking Oil

  • 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.

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