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How to Build a White Picket Fence

Building a picket fence can be easy with the right tools and information.


  • Step 1: Lay out your posts and rails Decide where the end, corner, line, and gate posts will be located and place a stake in the ground at each of these points. Attach a line of string between each of these stakes.
  • TIP: Check all building codes, ordinances, and property lines to make sure your fence is legal and on your property.
  • Step 2: Dig the post holes Dig post holes in each of the staked spots about 2 feet deep. Make sure the holes are larger than the posts to allow for adjustment.
  • Step 3: Put in your posts Install your end posts first, and then install line posts every 6 to 8 feet. Put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom of the post holes, make sure they're plumb, and then set your end and corner posts in concrete.
  • TIP: Line posts can be set in dirt unless you expect heavy use on the fence, but use gravel at the bottom.
  • Step 4: Cut the rails and measure the pickets Cut the rails to the length between the posts and determine how many pickets you will need.
  • TIP: You can buy pre-made pickets at most hardware or lumber stores.
  • Step 5: Stain or paint the rails and pickets Stain or paint the rails and pickets.
  • Step 6: Hang the rails Hang your rails with weatherproof fasteners. Put the bottom rail about 6 inches from the bottom and the top rail a couple inches below the top of the posts.
  • Step 7: Arrange the pickets Measure where each picket should go and mark the spot lightly with a pencil or tape. Then nail the pickets to the rails and posts.
  • FACT: In Seaside, Florida, picket fences are required for all houses.

You Will Need

  • Stakes
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Fence posts
  • Gravel
  • Plumb bob
  • Concrete mix
  • Wood for the rails
  • Pickets
  • Paint or stain
  • Fasteners
  • Pencil or tape
  • Hammer and nails

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