How to Build a Fence with Premade Panels


Although building a fence always involves heavy labor, it need not be a complicated task. Fence kits using pre-made panels of the type widely available at home improvement superstores, hardware stores and through online retailers greatly simplify the task of erecting a fence by eliminating the need for any advanced skills. Although such kits are available for both wood and vinyl fencing, the steps to assemble either type of fence are similar.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Stakes
  • Hammer
  • Measuring wheel (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger
  • Level
  • Iron tamping rod
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Nails


  • Measure the width of your pre-made panels and examine how they will attach to the fence posts to determine fence post spacing. In most fence types using pre-made panels, the panel rails meet in the center of the fence post, so the spacing between posts is exactly equal to the width of the panel.

  • Add half the width of the fence post to the post spacing measurement from Step 1 if you have a vinyl fence with brackets. Most fence designs see the panel rails meet in the center, but vinyl fences with brackets attach the panels on the sides of the post, requiring slightly larger spacing to compensate.

  • Walk along the perimeter of the property on which you intend to build the fence and drive stakes with a hammer at intervals determined by your spacing measurements to mark where the fence posts go. A measuring wheel can help you, but you can make do with a tape measure if one is not available.

  • Tie string from stake to stake in the line of stakes, and look down the line using the visual reference of the string to check for straightness. Replant any out of position stakes.

Setting Fence Posts

  • Dig the fence post holes to a depth equaling one-third of the height of the fence posts, or as indicated by your fence kit. Use a post hole digger and a shovel to excavate a cylindrical hole, and use your tape measure to ensure you get the depth exactly right.

  • Drop a fence post into a post hole. Set a level alongside it and move it around until the post rests in a plumb -- vertically straight -- position.

  • Fill in the post hole while a helper holds the post steady. Shovel several inches worth of dirt into the hole and compact it into a solid mass with an iron tamping rod. Continue filling and compacting until the post hole is full.

  • Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for every post hole in the fence line.

Attaching the Panels

  • Lay a pre-made panel alongside a pair of fence posts and set it into position. For a vinyl fence with slots, slide the top and bottom rails into the slots. For a vinyl fence with brackets, align the top and bottom rails with the corresponding brackets so the screw holes line up. For a wood fence, set the panel so the panel rails align with the center-line of the fence post.

  • Fasten the pre-made panel to the post. For a vinyl fence, do this by driving screws into the relevant screw holes either in the brackets or, for the tab-and-slot design, in the fence post. For a wood fence, drive a pair of nails through each rail and into the post.

  • Repeat Steps 1 and 2 for every panel in the fence.

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