How to Convert a Chain-Link Fence to a Wood Fence

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Replacing an unsightly chain-link fence with a wood fence is a way to provide privacy. There is no need to remove the entire fence; the existing steel fence posts are the basis for a new wood fence. Not only are the chain-link posts more durable than wood posts, you save the labor of pulling them out. When the job is finished, the steel posts will be hidden within the new fence.

Things You'll Need

  • Carpenter's level
  • Screwdriver (or electric drill with screwdriver bit)
  • Hole saw, 1 3/4-inch or 2 1/8-inch diameter
  • Redwood 2-by-4s
  • Redwood fencing, 3/4 by 8 inch
  • #10 deck screws,1 1/2-inch length
  • Plumber's tape
  • Power saw
  • Miter box (optional)

Install the Bottom Fence Rail

  • Determine if the chain-link fence is worth converting to a wood fence. If the steel posts are not bent, are not rusty and are set in concrete, then the steel posts can become part of the wood-fence construction.

  • Use only the steel posts for the wood fence. Using a wrench, remove the chain-link rails, fittings and wire. Leave only the posts and give the removed steel to a scrap dealer.

  • Paint the steel posts an earthy color so that if any metal is exposed, it will blend with the redwood fence.

  • The new fence requires two redwood rails that will fit between each pair of posts. Count the number of posts, subtract one and multiply by two; that's how many rails you need. For example, if there are 10 posts, 8 rails will be required. The 2-by-4-inch rails should be at least 6 inches longer than the distance between the posts to allow for drilling and cutting.

  • Use a carpenter's square to draw a line across a rail about 2 inches from the end. Measure the width of the rail and place a mark on the center.

  • If the chain-link post is 1 5/8-inch diameter, start a hole on the center point with a 1 3/4-inch hole saw. Drill a hole through the rail, keeping the hole saw square to the rail.

  • If the chain-ink post is 2 inches in diameter, use a 2 1/8-inch-diameter hole saw. Two-inch posts are rarely used in small chain-link fences.

  • Make a square cut along the line through the center of the hole just cut. Be sure the cut is square both horizontally and vertically. It is best to use either a miter box or a power saw to make the cut.

  • Place the half circle cutout against the first post and lay the other end beside the second post. Lay a square across the rail and push it against the second post. Draw a line across the rail where the square touches the second post.

  • Remove the rail and use a square to draw a line across the rail 3/4 inch beyond the line just drawn. Mark the center of the rail and use a hole saw to drill a 1 3/4-inch hole. Cut along the line drawn through the center of the hole just cut. The rail will now fit snugly between the two posts if the measurements and cuts were accurate.

  • If the posts are 2 inches in diameter, draw the second line 2 inches beyond the line just drawn, mark the center and drill with a 2 1/8-inch hole saw.

  • Make another rail identical to the one just made. The duplicate rail will be used as the top rail.

  • Continue making pairs of rails until reaching the end of the fence. If there is a right angle corner at the end, cut the two joining ends to a 45-degree angle. The ends will join to carry the fence around the corner. The second section will continue as with the first section.

  • Raise the bottom rail off the ground with pieces of 2-inch-diameter PVC pipe. Cut the PVC pipe to a length that will raise the bottom rail to a height of 8 inches above the planned bottom of the fence boards.

  • Spray paint the PVC an earthy color. Slip the pieces of PVC over the fence poles and slide them down to the concrete base.

  • Cut 6-inch pieces of plumber's tape with a pair of tin snips. Plumber's tape is perforated metal tape sold in rolls at most hardware stores. Four pieces of tape are required for each fence post except for the end posts. The end posts require one 8-inch tape for the bottom rail and one 8-inch tape for the top rail.

  • Place each bottom rail between the proper pair of posts and on top of the PVC supports. At the beginning of the fence, wrap an 8-inch piece of tape around the post and screw a 1 1/4-inch deck screw through a tape hole on each side of the fence, securing the end of the rail to the post.

  • Tie the bottom rail ends together with 6-inch pieces of plumber's tape. Lap the tape over both rails and secure the ends of the tape with 1 1/2-inch deck screws. Do this on both sides of the fence. At the end of the fence, secure the bottom rail with another 8-inch tape wrapped around the post and secured with two deck screws, one on each side of the fence.

Top Fence Rail

  • Screw a fence board temporarily to the bottom rail 12 inches or more from each post. Keep the bottom of the fence board high enough to give good clearance above the ground. Position the top rail at the desired distance below the top of the fence board and insert another screw.

  • Screw another temporary fence board to the bottom rail at the other end, keeping the board level with the first board. Level the top rail and insert another screw through the temporary fence board to hold the top rail in place.

  • Continue adding temporary fence boards and attaching the top rail with temporary screws until the end of the fence is reached. With all the top rail sections temporarily held in place, fasten them together with plumber's tape in the same manner as was done with the bottom rail.

  • Make sure that the top rail is level for the entire length of the fence.

Privacy-Fence Option

  • Begin the fence with the first 7 1/2-inch fence board. Overlap the steel fence pole and attach it to the top rail with one deck screw. Insure that the board is vertical and insert two deck screws into the bottom rail. Insert the second deck screw into the top rail.

  • Place a second fence board against the first board and insert two deck screws into the top rail and two screws into the bottom rail.

  • Continue placing fence boards vertical and tight together until the end of the fence is reached. Be sure that all the board tops are level. Be sure that all the boards are vertical.

  • Install a fence board on the opposite side of the fence , centered on the steel post. This will hide the post and make the fence more attractive from the back side.

Shadow-Box Option

  • Install the first fence board, overlapping the first steel fence pole. Keep the board vertical.

  • Starting at the edge of the first board, mark the top rail every 10 inches. Boards set against these marks will leave a two and one half inch gap between boards. The gap may be increased if desired.

  • Check the last mark. Will the last board cover the steel fence post? If not, the spacing between the boards will have to be adjusted so that the last board will hide the post. Minor adjustments in the board spacing from section to section will not be noticed.

  • Screw the fence boards to the rails. Keep the top of the boards level. Keep the boards vertical. Be sure that the steel post is covered by a board.

  • Continue the fencing to the end, making sure that all steel posts are covered and that the board tops are level. The last fence board may have to be cut if it extends too far past the last post.

  • Rip a fence board in half. Start the back side of the fence with the half board. Center each succeeding fence board opposite the center of the front side gap. If the board exposes a steel fence post, adjust the gaps so that the post is hidden.

    Planking the fence in this manner will require more boards but the result is a fence that looks the same from both sides.

Tips & Warnings

  • Shadow-box fences are appreciated by your neighbor.
  • Clear water-based sealer applied to the fence every two years will prevent splitting and checking of the boards.
  • Redwood fencing is usually sold very wet. When the boards dry, the fence will shrink, up to 1 inch. This will increase the gap between boards slightly.

References

  • Photo Credit grape leaves on a fence image by Tasha from Fotolia.com
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