How to Build a Redwood Fence

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A fence defines a space. It keeps people and animals in or out of an area. It affords privacy in a yard or around a patio. It acts as a windbreak. In addition it looks good in your yard, especially if it is made of redwood. Redwood is the material of choice for fences along the west coast, where redwood trees grow in abundance. Redwood resists weather, rot, insects and other conditions which destroy most wood fences. It also is simple to cut and use. It is available in most parts of the country, although it is more expensive away from the west coast.

Things You'll Need

  • Posthole digger
  • Level
  • Wood stakes
  • Builder's twine
  • Concrete
  • Hammer
  • Stainless steel, aluminum or galvanized nails
  • Metal post brackets
  • Design the fence. Most redwood fences are some variety of post, rail and board. Space posts evenly according to the dimensions of the lumber you choose and attach two or three rails between posts to hold facing boards; the number of rails will vary with the fence height. Design a cover with boards set vertically or horizontally in a lattice-weave or some other style. Use pickets as an alternative for a low garden fence; install posts and rails and space pickets between the posts.

  • Choose the lumber. Most redwood fences are built with what's called "garden grade" lumber, which has knots and other textures which would affect the look on siding and paneling. Select construction grade for posts, which need to be solid. Use 4-by-4-inch or 2-by-4-inch standard dimensions for posts; 4-by-4 will be stouter. Use 2-by-4s for rails. Choose planks or lattices for facing. Planks come in standard dimensions, 1-by-4-inch to 1-by-12-inch boards; lattices are pre-formed with squares, set diagonally in 4-by-8-foot panels.

  • Set the posts 8 feet apart, the standard length for rail lumber. Dig holes with a posthole digger to a third the depth of the post; for a 6-foot fence, dig a 2-foot hole and set an 8-foot 4-by-4 in it. Use a level to make sure the post is plumb (on all sides) and use wood stakes and builder's twine to outline a straight fence line. Fill the holes with concrete up to ground level, either mixed or poured in dry and dampened with water to harden.

  • Nail on the rails using stainless steel, aluminum or hot-dipped galvanized nails to resist corrosion which will stain the fence. Position the rails according to your fence design, either all on one side or with the top rail on top of the posts and intervening rails nailed between posts. Design the rails so you can attach fence boards either all on one side or in alternating board-and-board patterns, called "good neighbor" because they look the same from either side. Use galvanized steel or aluminum brackets to hold rails between posts to make nailing simpler.

  • Nail on the siding according to the pattern selected. The simplest patterns are straight with 1-by-6-inch or similar boards nailed to rails either vertically or horizontally. Vary this pattern by overlapping alternating boards or by spacing boards with even gaps between them. Nail lattice panels over the entire fence or use boards for most of the height and build a lattice top, framed with 2-by-4s like a window frame with lattice instead of glass inside.

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