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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 8767
Experience:  Retired contractor, 51 years experience
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How to build a 4 board fence

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How to build a 4 board fence
Welcome to Just Answer!

. I will stay with you until the situation resolves. I hold questions open after positive ratings to allow for unlimited follow up.

Tell me if thats the type of fence you have in mind and a bit about the local soil conditions and climate.

And tell me if it will be coral cattle or used for lighter duty purposes.

And tell me if you want wire in the fence as shown, or no wire at all.

We can go from there.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Oh my, I never thought about cattle, etc. I live in a subdivison an d need to replace a tallish fence with solid slats ( like on a sockade). I don't need to confine a dog or small children and so I thought an open fence would do. Like around the thorobred horse farms of Kentucky. About 4 foot high with 3-4 cross boards. Thiis just a small project along 2 non-touching sides of the yard. The neighbor needs to keep his toddlers safe and wants to keep the tall fence.

Hello again,

Thanks for the data. I will summarize first, then we can get into the details later as you need to.

Dig post holes 10 Inches in diameter along the fence line... space the center of the holes 5 feet apart. did the holes 38 inches deep. You can rent a gas powered post hole digger to do that from Home Depot or any tool rental company.

If you want the fence 5 feet tall, buy 4 x 4" redwood posts 8 feet long.

Pour 2 inches of concrete in the hole, and set the post. then fill the rest of the hole with cement. Use a level to insure the post stays vertical as the cement hardens.

Set all the posts that way.

Then buy redwood boards, 2 x 8 x 1 inch redwood boards, fence grade, 10 feet long, and use corrosion treated 'deck screws' 3 inches long to attach the boards to the posts. use a 1/8" drill bit to pre-drill the boards before placing the screws. Use guide blocks to insure the boards are equally spaced along their entire length.

when you are done, pile up some concrete around each post 2 inches above grade and slope it so water drains away from the posts. Use a product called 'sun frog' on the fence when finished. I preffer the clear version.

Be sure of your property line when lay out the fence, put the center of the post holes 5 inches in from the property line... be sure your neighbor agrees with the location so there is no trouble later.


Take out a permit, have the city or county approve your plans, give a set of plans to the local electrical, water and gas utility company and tell them you need clearance from them to dig the post holes in those locations.

Let me know if you need any more detail, we can go from there until you have all the data you need..


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Never thought about needing a permit or about digging thru the cable lines. Thanks for those 2 pieces of info. . . .


The cross boards start at edge of the first upright post or half way (middle)? The other cross boards join in middle of the post, right? Do they all join on the same upright or are they staggered on different posts? Do the cross boards go on my side of the fence or the neighbors side?


Sun frog must be a water repellant/protector. Does it need 2 coats ? If yes , should one be painted before the build? (I paint for Habitat houses and always paint 2 coats on trim).


I went to bed long before your answer came and have just opened the computer. Thanks for info. You included some great ideas and it sounds like I can do this .



Hello again,

First make sure you can get 10' long redwood 1 x 8" fence boards in your area... the post spacing must fit your available lumber supply. You may have to settle for 8' long lumber for the boards, in that case the posts can be 4 feet apart center to center except as you mention the first post. in that case the cross boards start at the far edge of the post not the center.


You have to work out which side of the posts the boards go on with your neighbor... whichever will look the best from the street is the usual practice if there is a street view. If the neighbor will not let you work on his property to build the fence, then the boards have to go on your side of the fence.

Its best to buy the lumber first, lay it out flat on the ground... then locate the post holes accordingly... this is the most important part of the job.

The fence will be a lot stronger if you stagger the boards so that they do not all butt together on the center of the same posts.

You may want to make the top board a 2 x 8 instead of a 1 x 8 for added strength.

Regarding the sun frog, one coat is good, but it needs to be renewed occasionally as needed, you will have to see how long you can go between coats.

I would use the sun frog on the posts before setting them.. The redwood wears well above ground, you can put the sun frog on after you screw them to the posts.

The permit is needed to insure your fence is not fit in a way that blocks fireman's access to your back yard... 3 feet clearance between the side of the house and fence is generally required... a sketch of the job will work well in getting that reviewed and approved.

Congratulations on you work for Habitat.
You can rate my work for you now if you wish, thats how the company pays me.


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