Farm and Ranch Fencing DIY
Rail fencing can be an economical and attractive way to outline the border of your property. It is especially useful for containing animals. The rails can be full-round, half-round, split cedar, vinyl or steel. Wire fencing, such as welded wire or field fence, can be add to most styles for containing pets. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Wood rails and posts are often the most economical to install. Wood is attractive but has a tendency to decay over time. The posts can be blunt and set in pre-dug holes or they can be pointed and mechanically driven. Set the posts on 8 foot centers. The rails are 16 1/2 feet long and come in half and full round styles. Posts are always treated but the rails can be treated or untreated. Fasten the rails to the post with nails or screws.
Split cedar fencing will give your property a rustic look. Cedar is a naturally rot resistant wood. The rails are 10 feet long. Split cedar fencing should be installed one section at a time. The posts are simply tamped in the ground with dirt.
Vinyl fencing is more expensive than wood but will not decay like wood does. It is also considered to be maintenance free. Vinyl fencing can become brittle in very cold weather. The posts are set in concrete on 8 foot centers. The rails are 16' long. The junctions of the rails should fall on alternate posts if possible.
Steel fencing is both permanent and maintenance free. It is also more expensive than wood. The posts are set in concrete on 10 foot centers. The rails are 1 5/8" x 21 feet long. They have a swedged end that allows one rail to fit into another. At the ends and corners the rails are attached to the posts with brace bands and rail ends.
With our calculator it is easy to determine what you will need for your fencing project. Make a quick sketch of the fence line. Measure and record the distances between each terminal post. Using the calculator select the height of the fence. Enter the quantity of each type of terminal post. (The number of line posts needed will be calculated for you.) Enter the lengths for each fence section. The calculator can handle up to 12 different fence sections. The example fence below would have: 6 end posts, 4 corner posts, 1 bare post and fence sections of 10, 52, 32, 44, 52, 8 and 4 feet. For gates, most people use our farm gates. They start at 4 foot wide and go up in 2 foot increments. You can also send your sketch to us and we will part out your fence for you.
The accuracy of the calculator is not guaranteed. It is intended only as a tool to help you part out your fence.
Wood Fence Calculator
Rail Fence Installation
Wood Rails and Posts
Our rails are 16' 6" long so install the posts 8 feet apart. The posts can be driven or tamped in with dirt. Do not use cement. Cement acts like a sponge and can cause the rails to decay faster. You can add gravel at the bottom of the hole to help with drainage. This is especially important if your soil has a lot of clay.
Attach the rails to the posts. You can use nails, screws or bolts. Most common for the DIY is screws. Overlap the rails or join them end to end. The joints between the rails should fall on alternating posts.
The sizes of the posts and rails is a personal choice. But most commonly they fall into the following guidelines:
4-5" posts: 4 rails and 4" screws
5-6" posts: 4 1/2" rails and 5" screws
6-7" posts: 5" rails and 6" screws
Tamp split cedar posts in with dirt. Never use concrete as it can cause the posts to rot faster. You can add gravel at the bottom of the hole to help with drainage. This is especially important if your soil has a lot of clay.
It is best to install split cedar posts one at a time along with the rails. Set the first post and then use a rail to determine the location of the next post. After the second posts is set install the rails. The rails will be inserted all the way into the first post and then be pulled part way out to rest in the hole in the next post. Repeat this process until the fence is complete.
Vinyl Ranch Rail
Vinyl rails are 16 feet long. The posts are set on 8 foot centers in concrete or foam. After the concrete has set up install the rails. Most rails will span three posts. The rails will go completely through one post and terminate on the other two. Use a full rail on the first row and then start the next row with a half of a rail. This will insure that the joints between the rails will fall on alternating posts.
The rails are 21 feet long. Install the posts on ten foot centers. They can be set in concrete, foam or driven. Install the brackets on the posts and then insert the rails. The rails are attached to the terminal posts with brace bands and rail ends.
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