If you’re considering building your own fence, you’ve probably done research to determine what type of fence you want, how to prepare your yard, and what tools you will need. There is one seemingly minor, yet important question that you may still need to research, though – whether to use individual fence pickets or purchase pre-made fence panels.
Using individual fence pickets
Many people picture building a fence piece-by-piece when visualizing fence construction. Someone with expert-level carpentry skills (and perhaps a heavily-wooded lot with access to high-quality trees) may even be able to saw, cut, plane, and sand their own fence pickets. More commonly, you can purchase individual wooden fence pickets wholesale or from a fence manufacturer to build your own fence.
While buying individual fence pickets may seem like a great idea when it comes to saving money and better customizing your fence, building your own fence panels out of pickets takes a lot of time and effort. You will need to build the fence rails, fit them to your fence posts, and nail each individual board to the rails, while ensuring they are straight and consistent in color, shape and character. Fence panels come pre-assembled, but you will need to make sure they are installed level, and possibly cut some panels for length.
Wood fence pickets are the most common type of fence product that is sold individually, although some vinyl fence pickets may be found. Vinyl pickets can be trickier for the home DIYer to install, though, and are usually much easier to install when sold and shipped in panels..
You can work with a reputable fence company to custom-design a fence if you are looking for a very unique design. If you choose this option, your fence will typically come in panel-form, not as individual pickets.
Using pre-made fence panels
Pre-manufactured fence panels come in multiple widths, heights, and styles. The most common width is eight feet, and common heights for security and privacy fences include six feet and eight feet, although smaller, decorative fences and more open, semi-private fences exist in three or four foot heights.
One major advantage of using pre-made fence panels is time. Rather than laboriously constructing each fence panel yourself, you have the benefit of skipping that time-consuming step and moving right on to setting and installing the panels themselves. This means your DIY fence installation can take only one weekend to complete, including fence preparation, rather than multiple weeks. Have your yard ready for spring and summer more quickly!
A second advantage of using pre-manufactured panels is quality. While you can choose a fence manufacturer that finishes and inspects each fence panel by hand, an industrial sawmill and wood shop will be able to more quickly manufacture pickets and form them into panels with no question of quality or conformity. The quality control process in fence manufacturing, even local, hand-finished manufacturing, will ensure a uniform product throughout not just each panel, but the entire fence.
Preparation for picket or panels
When preparing to install a fence, many steps remain the same, whether you are choosing to use individual pickets or pre-made panels.
- First, you need to measure for your fence. Be sure to check your survey for property line information when placing your fence. Mark where you will be placing fence posts. Using a string, run a plumb line around the perimeter
- Next, you need to dig holes for your fence posts. These will be filled with concrete to level and support your posts, and therefore your fence. They should be larger than the posts that will be inserted for that reason. Make sure they are between 24 and 36 inches deep.
- Third, level and fill your posts and post holes. Using your plumb line, make sure each fence post is the same height and that they all line up appropriately. Then, fill your post holes with concrete to hold them.
Now you’re ready to install your fence panels! If you are installing individual pickets, you will first have to attach fence rails to your posts. Wood panel fences can be nailed directly to your fence posts. Wood, vinyl, or aluminum rail fences have special notches in the posts to attach rails, and are then screwed in for security and longevity. Vinyl panel fences come with special locking tabs that will securely click to the post.
The Fence Authority’s Fence Panel Manufacturing Process
The Fence Authority sources all wood from Canadian white or red cedar. We make our own fence pickets and panels at our three wood fabrication shops, and finish each piece by hand, ensuring quality of materials. We also have a state-of-the-art vinyl fabrication shop and are the exclusive dealer of ActiveYards quality vinyl and aluminum fences in southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
We can work with you directly to determine the perfect fence for you. We offer a five year workmanship warranty on all of our fence installations. If you prefer to install your own fence, that’s great! We can provide you with the fence materials you need in wood, vinyl or aluminum to create your perfect DIY project.