How to Put Up and Take Care of a Panel Fence

How to Put Up and Take Care of a Panel Fence

How to Put Up and Take Care of a Panel Fence

When properly installed and well-maintained a panel fence adds privacy, comfort and style to your garden. With the correct preparation and equipment, it’s entirely possible to put up your own fence, either alone or with help from a friend.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of installing your fence and maintaining it once complete. Take care of your fence and you can expect it to last upwards of 20 years.

 

Installing Your Fence

Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools and equipment that you’ll need to hand. To install a typical panel fence, you will need:

  • Fence Panels
  • Fence Posts
  • Fence Clips
  • Cable Avoidance Tool
  • Postcrete Post
  • Hole Digger or Spade
  • Gloves
  • String Line and Marker Pegs or Line Marking Paint
  • Spirit Level

Preparation

  • Thorough planning will not only save you time but can also prevent unnecessary wastage or damage to your garden. Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools and materials you’ll need to see the project through to completion.
  • It’s possible to install a fence at any time of the year, but very wet, very cold, or very hot weather risks a poor result. We recommend spring or late autumn.
  • If your fence backs onto a neighbour’s garden, it’s worth talking to them about your project and checking whether they’re happy for you to access their garden – being able to work on your fence from both sides will make the process much easier.
  • Before you begin digging, take a moment to check for pipes or cables underground using a detector. Cable avoidance tools (or CAT) can be rented affordably. When you’re happy that the area beneath your new fence is safe, remove any plants, stones or debris from the area.
  • Unless your fence measures over 2m in height, planning permission is not generally required. If you’re not sure whether your project will need planning permission (for example, if your boundary line meets a public footpath) you should contact your Local Authority for clarification.
  • Fence panels and wooden posts will often arrive pre-treated to help prevent rot and insect attacks. However, it’s good practice to treat any sawn ends with an all-purpose preservative. Fence post caps can also be attached to the tops of posts to give your fence a well-finished appearance and guard against water damage.

Installing Your Fence Posts Using Postcrete

  1. Decide where your first fence post will be installed and measure a length of 1.83m/6ft from this point along the ground – this is where your second post will be. Using this method continue to measure the perimeter of your fence.
  2. Carefully plot out the location of all fence posts and mark the spots using either a string line and marker pegs, or line marker paint. Your fence posts should be roughly 600mm/2ft taller than the total finished height of your fence (if you plan to fit a trellis to your fence, account for this extra height when purchasing your posts). Once you know exactly how many posts and panels you’ll need, you can place an order.
  3. Dig your first fence post hole measuring 2ft x 1ft / 600mm x 300mm. For consistency and ease, we recommend using a post hole digger.
  4. Place your fence post into the hole and fill in using Postcrete to set in place as per your manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Use a spirit level to ensure your newly installed post remains vertically level and in line with your string line or marker paint.
  6. While your first post is curing (note that if you’re using Rapid Set Postcrete curing may only take 30 seconds, but up to 4-5 minutes may be required) dig your next post hole.
  7. Return to your first post which should now be set securely into place and attach your fence clips approximately 150mm from the top and bottom of your fence panel. If you’re using a panel larger than 4ft / 1.2m, add an additional third clip in the middle to help prevent the panel from bending.
  8. Now attach your fence panel to the set post.
  9. Place your second fence post into your prepared hole, attaching your fence clips and screwing the panel into place before securing the post with Postcrete.
  10. Repeat the above steps as necessary until your panel fence is complete.

Maintaining Your Fence

Top 5 Tips

  1. Work with the weather. Use treatments and stains in dry but mild weather, if rain is forecast or temperatures are particularly high, consider waiting to paint your fence.
  2. Prepare your fence before staining, making sure to remove mould and mildew as well as surface dirt.
  3. Check your panels and posts regularly and tighten loose screws as needed.
  4. Don’t forget preservatives. Not only do wood preservers add a coat of colour, but many also guard against UV damage, mould and rot.
  5. Routinely care for your fence and prevent irreparable damage or decay – a properly cared-for fence can last 20 years or more.

General Fence Maintenance

  • Loose boards should be refastened and tightened with weather-resistant screws, and any protruding nails should be countersunk. After severe winds, make a note to check your fence for damage. If parts of the fence are damaged beyond repair, replace them before any strain or damage can affect other panels.
  • Minor aesthetic damage like splits or small cracks are to be expected. Gaps like these do not necessarily need filling, as fence panels expand and contact with the weather, causing timber posts to bend if too rigid with filler.

Staining and Treating Your Fence

  • Before applying wood stains or treatments, you must ensure that your fence is clean and dry. If it’s rained in recent days make sure the wood has had the chance to dry completely. Take care to remove any green or black mould as this will prevent stains from adhering evenly.
  • If your fence is sturdy enough, you can wash it with a pressure washer. Otherwise, a stiff brush will do the trick. If you do decide to use a pressure washer, be sure that your chosen model isn’t too aggressive – 1,500 or 2,000psi is more appropriate than 3,000 or 3,500psi.
  • Check the weather forecast 24 hours before you start painting. It’s crucial to plan any outdoor painting job on a warm and dry day, as cold weather or staining in the sun will hinder the drying process, ruining your hard work.
  • Stains can be applied with either a brush, a roller or a power sprayer. Consider which option is most appropriate for your fence size and physical ability.
  • Always paint in the same direction as the timber’s grain to ensure an even finish. Start at the top and work your way down to minimise drips and runs.
  • There’s a huge range of wood stains and paints available to choose from, and it’s important to ensure the paint or stain you choose is suitable for your fence. Check the tin and manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing. Every product will have a slightly different coverage, measure your fence before purchasing to ensure you buy enough.