Last Updated: January 9, 2019
If you’re going to do a job, do it right, they say. Although installing a new fence is easier than ever thanks to convenient kits, easy-to-handle materials, and inexpensive tools available at prevalent hardware stores, amateur blunders and oversights still happen all the time. So before you dig into a new project, take a moment to review the common fence installation mistakes listed below. Not only will these tips prevent you from making embarrassing errors, but they could also save you time and money in the long run.
Common Fence Installation Mistakes
If you shop for a fencing system without care, thought, or organization, you will likely end up with an unsatisfactory fence. This is especially important if you’re planning to install the fence yourself. Be sure that the fence suits your specific situation, your needs (style, privacy, maintenance, etc.), and your skill level.
Although the construction stage is clearly important, don’t neglect planning before the hard work begins:
- First, review your plat to be sure that you know where your property ends (more on this below) and measure the area multiple times so that you know exactly how many materials to order.
- Then, research potential fencing materials carefully, and study your preferred product before purchasing it. Think about the quality, durability, warranty, and maintenance in addition to the cost and appearance.
- Next, be sure that you have the tools needed to install a fence. You may be able to borrow or rent the tools you don’t have.
- After that, research your local zoning laws and (if applicable) your Homeowner’s Association guidelines. There may be ordinances prohibiting certain types, styles, and sizes of fences. And if you’re building a fence to surround a pool, additional safety codes will apply.
- Finally, to be sure that you don’t hit pipes or wires underground when installing your posts, call 811 before you start digging any deep holes. This will also ensure that the project is safe and that it won’t anger any utility companies.
As we mentioned above, it is extremely important that you don’t make any presumptions regarding your property lines. Of all these common fence installation mistakes, this might be the most dire. Review your plat before you begin installation, and if you don’t have a plat, get one! The plat should clearly show the divisions of land, so that you can be sure your fence is entirely on your property. Why is this important? If you find out later that your fence is on your neighbor’s property or public land, moving the fence will be extremely expensive and embarrassing. Plus, you will likely have to pay fines and legal fees as well.
Precise measurements are the backbone of a terrific fence installation. Be sure to measure the area multiple times to avoid silly mistakes (and perhaps have a friend or family member measure it as well). Ordering the correct amount will ensure that (1) you have enough materials to complete the fence and (2) you won’t have to worry about attempting to return surplus supplies, which is often not possible.
In addition, you will need to know the sizes of the sections you will need, so that you can modify sections beforehand if necessary. For example, if the sections are six feet long, but you will need to install a three feet long section, you must cut it down before installation. Know where to set your post holes as well.
A solid and stable fence begins with well-installed posts. If you want your posts to withstand the elements and securely hold up panels and rails, you must set the posts deeply in the ground and anchor them. Review the directions that come with your fencing kit and follow them carefully when installing the posts. Dig deeper and use a sturdier anchor than the minimum requirements as well. For example, most fencing systems require that the posts are at least two feet into the ground and anchored with concrete or gravel. In addition, give the posts time to set properly before beginning the next stage of the project.
Most yards have a slope, whether slight or significant. Even if you can barely see the incline or decline of a slope, it could have a profound impact on your fence’s installation. Account for the grade when purchasing and installing your fence, and be sure to adjust panels as necessary to create a neat and uniform final product. You may wish to find a fence that can easily be racked, for example, so that the pickets remain vertical, the top of the fence is even, and the bottom has an even gap that follows the slope of the land.
Gates can be tricky, especially for amateurs. First, take your time when choosing the best location because repositioning a gate can be expensive and difficult. Next, purchase the proper gate size. If the gate will only be used for foot traffic, it can be smaller, but if livestock or large farm equipment will pass through, you may need a gate that is 10-12′ wide. Finally, as your gate will endure more wear-and-tear than the rest of the fence, it must be made from quality materials to prevent sagging and warping. Its posts should be carefully set as well, because their strength and durability is crucial.
A fence is a major investment and its installation can be tricky, so if you don’t feel confident installing it yourself, go ahead and hire professionals. They will have the tools, training, and experience necessary to do the job right. In addition, of course, they will avoid all the common fence installation mistakes listed above.
To tackle the task yourself, keep the tips above in mind and follow the product directions carefully. Above all, take your time! Repairing common fence installation mistakes can be costly and time-consuming, so do your best to avoid them altogether.
Finally, if you’re interested in purchasing a new fence that you can easily install yourself, be sure to check out MMC Fencing & Railing. In our online store, you’ll find high-quality and virtually maintenance-free vinyl and aluminum fencing systems. All of our products come with a protective warranty and are built to last a lifetime. To learn more about our fencing systems, please give us a call at 1-866-931-5002. We would be happy to help you select a fencing system that fits your needs. Good luck!