Fencing 101: Railings and Pickets

Happy Saturday, folks! Let’s get back to fencing! I already told you guys that we finished the fence and gates, and how the dogs broke INTO the house. I guess that is a heck of a lot better of them breaking out though, right?!

Anyways, I just wanted to back up and give you a play-by-play of the fence process. You can check out the first part here.

With the posts all set, time for railings! Ryan and I started by laying out two 2 x 4s between every post until we had worked our way around the yard. Then, we started at the back of the yard (6 foot fence) putting up the top rail and bottom rail. Our supplies included, well, us (duh), wood screws, cordless drill, 2 x 4s, measuring tape, and a 4 foot level.

After putting up a few top and bottom rails, we got into a rhythm that worked really well for us. We are by no means professionals, just young DIYers trying to put up a fence that will last a long time, look pretty as you drive by and keep our dogs safe. Here is the system that worked well for us.

I started with holding the bottom rail (2 x 4) 8″ off the ground, level between the two posts. The end of each rail should fall in the middle of each 4 x 4 posts. Hopefully this preschool, Photoshop picture helps explain what I mean.

I would hold the 2 x 4 rail in place, Ryan would place the 4 foot level on the rail where I could see the level. Once I gave Ryan the go ahead, he would screw the rail to the post using wood screws. He would start on my left, screw that side in place, I would recheck to make sure we were still level, tell Ryan we were level, he would screw in the other side. La-da, bottom rail up! Repeat for top rail. Then, we did that again and again and again until finally we finished the entire back section. Whew!

First run complete! This took us two afternoons (after work). You can see in this picture that each top rail and bottom rail are not the same height. Heights do vary. This is because the ground back there is no where close to level! We used the ground as our marker for each section of fence as opposed to keeping the entire run all the same height. I think you could do it either way, just make sure you know where the highest point of the ground is and use that as your marker.

With one run done, we made our way around to the front yard.

The front part took another 2 or 3 afternoons. We had all the railings up within a week.

Posts. Check! Railings. Check! Bring on the pickets.

Since I am the picky one with a good eye, I took on the task of laying out the pickets. We used a 5 1/2″ wide pressure treated pine for our pickets. We wanted the fence to be just open enough the dogs could stick their noses out, but nothing more than that. You know what is the same width as Tori and Bella’s nose? A 2 x 4!

I used a 2 x 4 as a spacer and adjusted where needed. I made sure that each picket was centered on each post and worked my way to the middle with the 2 x 4 as my guide.

I laid all of the pickets out, propped them against the fence, and Ryan and I went to work on attaching pickets to the rails. Here is where my knees cry from crawling around all Saturday.

I took on the job of making sure each picket was 2″ off the ground (using an old 2 x 4 this time, as opposed to a new one) and was level. I would hold the picket level while Ryan screwed it in place at the top. While he secured the bottom I would move on to the next picket. Ryan started with only one wood screw, just to get in place, and we went back and added a second screw at the top and bottom. Our system worked pretty efficiently, even though it killed my knees and a weird muscle in my shoulder I apparently have never used before.

We started working on the back part of the fence and moved our way around the front.

We actually changed the layout of the new fence if you haven’t picked up on it already.

Of course once all the pickets were up we had to have our supervisors approval….


We are working on scalloping the fence right now, and it is looking GOOD! Can’t wait to share. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

3 thoughts on “Fencing 101: Railings and Pickets

  1. Pingback: Fencing 101: Successful Scallops | younganddomestic

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