Fence Line

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Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:28 am

Hi Folks,

I'm planning on building a wooden privacy fence around my backyard, but am unsure where to run my fence from the right side of my house. If I run it along the blue line, will it obscure the window? Look funny? Otherwise, if I run it along the yellow, it will also look strange IMO. Note that the short red line is where I plan on putting the gate. I've also added a smaller photo from the NE (the marked/lines photo is from the south) to provide a better idea.


Any advice?
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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:47 am

I would go either from the corner of the bay window (yellow line) or the corner of the house further to the left, this way it does not obscure the window. As for looking a little funny, put a small bush or something in that niche that is created to fill it in a bit, make it less weird.

Do not connect the fence directly to the house, leave a 1" gap. This does two things, it keeps pests from entering through the fence and if you ever have to work on the house or paint, the fence will not be in the way. If you absolutely must connect to the house, put flashing between the connection point, again, as a barrier to critter infiltration.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by Shannon » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:36 pm

Yup I would agree with Spruce on all points. I would also maybe make the gate be in the angled section of fence?
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:41 pm

Thanks. My primary goal is to keep the dog in as opposed to necessarily keeping critters out! I never thought of a bush or whatever to occupy that space...good idea.

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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:42 pm

Shannon wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:36 pm
Yup I would agree with Spruce on all points. I would also maybe make the gate be in the angled section of fence?
Another good idea....I think that would make the angled area look more like a general entrance-way.

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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:47 pm

As well, is it ok to have the first post closest to the house (but unattached) be the post holding the gate? Assume that wouldn't compromise integrity/strength...for an approx 4' foot wide gate?

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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:18 pm

The issues with putting the gate on an angle is how it loads the post and general access.
1 - Post load, and this will also answer your question about where to hang the gate. When you put a gate in line with the fence, the fence gives the gate post extra rigidity. When you hang a gate off to the side of the fence line, it will side load the post and cause it to bend. The problem comes during seasonal changes, when the gate is wet, it will be extra heavy and bind in the opening and misalign the latch. When it is dry, it will create a wider gap and latch alignment issues as well. I know this from experience because I designed two angled areas in a decorative fence on my property and have these problems.

Now, you could install a larger post, maybe a 6x6 instead of the typical 4x4 or round cyclone fence post. However, a larger post may not work well with the rest of the fence design or the space you have to work. You also want a wider gate, which is going to stress any post you use, even a 6x6.

2 - Access. Angled gates tend to lessen the actual access because you're now having to travel around a corner as you enter the gate, whereas a straight shot generally works better. You might consider doing a double gate so that each gate section is smaller and lighter, the larger opening would also aid accessibility. If you do a double gate I would make the opening at least 5' wide so that the individual gates are still a usable size when you're just walking though.

Now, I'm not saying that you can't build a gate on an angle, just consider these points in your design so that you don't have problems later.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by Shannon » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:37 pm

[email protected] wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:47 pm
As well, is it ok to have the first post closest to the house (but unattached) be the post holding the gate? Assume that wouldn't compromise integrity/strength...for an approx 4' foot wide gate?
A 4' gate will be pretty heavy and as Spruce said the 4x4 post will tend to bend over time. I actually in the past have placed a long leg bolt through posts and into solid framing on the house for cases like that. Is it ideal? ...no not with vinyl siding but it will work and it only works well if there is solid framing to secure to not just wall sheathing. The other option is either a 6x6 wood post or a 4x4 steel tube post or two gates for that size of opening.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:42 pm

Thanks. I'd prefer a 36" - 48" gate for motorcycle and snowblower. The yellow line is just a little over 48" so I assume I'd width the gate accordingly given there'd only be a post at the house and a post at the angle where fence will turn straight (actually need to screw on a wedge for the rails on the straight. Given the palings will be outside, it shouldn't make a difference to the look (other than latch) wherever I locate the gate. So, should I place it within the straight section?

(BTW....the white trim around the window is wood).

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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:03 pm

The foundation of the house will force you to put the post about 6" out from the wall of the house, so long as this doesn't interfere with anything, you can certainly hang the gate there. I would be inclined to anchor the top of the post to the house, this will keep it from bending under the weight of the gate. If you use a 6x6 post for the gate post, it's likely going to reduce the gate from swinging to a fully open position, just kind of depends on the type of hinge you use and where you hang the gate on the post.

The posts on either side of the gate should be square to the gate. How I would handle the rails for the fence is to put them between the posts, which means you'd simply make an angled cut on the end of the rail to mate to the gate post. The rest of the rails would be square cut and butted between the posts. While you can face nail the rails to the posts, it makes the fence much thicker and will cause you headaches when trying to build and hang the gate.

Quick tip: When you build the gate, make sure you run the cross brace from the bottom hinge corner to the latch corner, this will carry the weight of the gate without sagging. Many people will install it the other direction (top hinge downward), this does nothing structurally, it only adds weight. You can also either build a frame to attach the pickets to or you can just run a 2x4 flat in a Z pattern (top rail, cross brace, bottom rail). Both methods have their benefits
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:57 pm

Thanks so much for the info and guidance!

If it makes any difference, I was planning on installing the hinges on the left post as opposed to the right post which is next to the house (and stand alone). The gate would then swing inward away from the house. Wouldn't this somewhat mitigate the stress on the right post closest to the house (i.e. the latch side)? As well, I had planned to attach the rails to the face of the posts. That would mean I would need the gate to definitely be thicker to ensure even plane of palings. Otherwise, would I need metal brackets to install the rails to the side faces of the posts? And would I then need to ensure the post tops fell even with the adjacent palings?

Again, thanks so much for the advise!

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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:18 am

If you are not hanging the gate on the house side post, then no, there's no need to attach this post to the house or have any additional reinforcement.

I will try to remember to take some pix of gates I have around here, I've got 3 different styles, and it may help illustrate how to frame the fence and gate.

No, you do not need any special brackets to install rails between posts. I simply toe-nail them in place. There are metal brackets you can use if you want to, I have never found them necessary.

I am a firm advocate of using Postmaster style metal posts, there are other brands out there, but you can google postmaster metal post to see what I'm talking about. These posts are a formed metal post and the "wings" are perforated, you attach your rails through these perforations. The reason I like metal posts is that they will never rot off, so the fence will last for decades without the need of repair. Before now all talk has been about using wood posts, and if you choose to go with metal, you will still need a wood gate post or buy a 3" heavy wall square steel tube for the gate post.

Regardless of type of post used, set all your posts, then determine the height you want the top of the post, snap a line and cut all the posts off at the same height. You can run your top rail across the top of the post if you want more of a finished look, or between as described above, your choice. Top mounting looks a little better, IMHO, though with the 2x on edge between the posts it will resist sag a little better. Flip a coin. The bottom rail is set about 12" off the ground, post heights are usually about 5' for fences that are 6'.

Posts can be dry packed with dirt, gravel, or set in cement, your choice. The gate post should probably be set in cement to make it more stable, line posts don't really matter. If you use cement, bring the cement above ground an inch or two and crown the top of it to shed water. The major reason posts rot is that moisture is held around them at ground level, which causes rot and failure. Crowning the cement will help to alleviate that problem a bit. To dry pack a post, set the post level, kick in a couple inches of dirt and tamp it solid, add a few more inches of dirt and tamp, repeat until you've completely filled the hole around the post. If you cement the posts, it's best to mix the cement and pour it into the hole, then brace the post plumb. You can use "post mix" which is designed to pour in around the post dry, then add water later. This works, but it does not result in as strong a setting and frequently cracks out at corners, causing loose posts. If I cement, I wet set.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:28 am

Great info...thanks!

I have already purchased 4x4x8 pressure-treated posts. Cementing all posts...24" inches down. I had planned on simply screwing rails to face of posts, allowing palings to possibly run a little higher than posts. Paling side out for street view.

Do you think it makes a big difference whether gate swings into garden vs out? Swinging in would mean the gate would not swing into the driveway. As well, I clear snow starting from inside the yard so I wouldn't have to go out to driveway to clear snow to allow gate to open after a big snowfall (to get snowblower out to driveway). That said, I could certainly live with it opening out.

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Re: Fence Line

Post by Shannon » Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:33 am

Unless your fence is only 4' high I would go to at least 3' in the ground. You have already purchased your posts but I would not bother spending the time or money to install them unless they are long enough to be placed deep enough.
Swing the gate the direction you prefer IMO.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:30 am

I agree with Shannon, the posts should really be below frost line to keep them from heaving and moving.

Gate swing is personal preference, there's no "right" or "wrong" direction.

There's no reason for the posts to be as tall as the paling, aesthetically, I think they look better to be cut off at the top rail height, whether you cap the post or not.

When you install the paling, lay one flat on the ground as a spacer at each end post and tack a paling in place. This will give you a space between the bottom of the paling and the ground. Run a string line from one end to the other, this is you guide line for setting the top of the paling. Before you install them, hold a paling in place at several points along the string to check ground clearance, you may need to put another temp paling in the middle somewhere OR you may want to cut the bottoms of the paling to keep your top sight line straight, adjust your guide string accordingly.

The point of the gap between paling and ground is two fold. The gap allows for trimming grass under the fence and keeps dirt from rotting them out.

I would start your palings at the gate, as you reach the last 5 palings, measure the space and start either increase spacing or cutting the paling width so that you end with a nearly full board. If you just run the boards you'll likely end up with either a 1" gap or a sliver of a paling, neither of which look good. By measuring, you can adjust spacing or paling width so that you end evenly.

If you wanted to be anal about it, build your gate BEFORE you set your gate posts, this allows you to use full width boards for the whole gate. If you want to get really REALLY anal about it, calculate how many board it will take from the latch post to the house and set that post accordingly.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:59 am

Thanks again!

Just set three posts. All good so far.

I was going to run a line along the top after applying the palings...and cut with a skill saw...but may do as you suggest (the grade is fairly consistent). I also plan to run a board across the bottom of each section as a kick plate. Need to ensure the dog doesn't get out. Also, I presume I can replace the kick plate as needed and it'll save wear and tear on the paling bottoms from the grass trimmer.

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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:13 am

As promised, gate pix.

This first image is a yard gate. I installed this picket fence down both sides of the driveway 15 years ago, this gate hasn't been touched since, other than to tighten hinges or adjust the latch. Notice that I laid the rails flat, to match the fence rails and that the cross brace runs from the bottom hinge corner to the latch corner to support the weight of the gate. Also notice that I simply used rails and brace, I didn't box frame the gate. Notice that the entire gate is made of full width paling and the spacing is uniform.
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This is the angled gate I was telling you about, it is right about 4' wide and it is very heavy when it is rain soaked, which flexes the post. To combat this, I installed a metal brace on the post and also secured it to the trellis post behind it, this was the only way that the gate would remain functional when wet. Notice that the entire gate is made of full width paling, as are the paling on either side of the gate.
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This is the inside of the same gate, notice that the rails are on edge, not flat, cross brace from bottom hinge to latch. You can also just make out the metal brace on the post (bad lighting, sorry). This was a redwood post, which is much more pliable than a pressure treated one, but a PT post will flex easily when you hang 100 pounds off the side of it, which is what a wet 4' gate is going to weigh. Lastly, this post is set in concrete to give it more rigidity in the ground, the rest of the fence is dry packed dirt.
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This gate is a decorative gate between the house and detached garage. It swings 90* in both directions, to accomplish this I used hook and eye "hinges". The this gate was fully framed to continue the look of the solid section of fence. The "rails" are on the outside of the paling to maintain the same aesthetic from either side of the fence/gate. Notice paling and spacing are all uniform throughout. You will also probably notice that this gate doesn't have a cross brace, that is because it doesn't need it and it would aesthetically detract. Why doesn't it need a cross brace? Because it is box framed and the way the pickets and rails were assembled. Additionally, there is a caster on the latch side to carry the weight of the gate.
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You may have also noticed that the hook and eye hinges have a really large eye, this is because the patio is not flat. For the caster to work, the hinge needed play in it, so I used larger eyes to make that allowance, now the gate is fully supported by the caster at all times.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:19 am

[email protected] wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:59 am
I was going to run a line along the top after applying the palings...and cut with a skill saw...but may do as you suggest (the grade is fairly consistent). I also plan to run a board across the bottom of each section as a kick plate. Need to ensure the dog doesn't get out. Also, I presume I can replace the kick plate as needed and it'll save wear and tear on the paling bottoms from the grass trimmer.
As long as you have flat top palings, you can do as you suggest, install and cut after the fact, however, if you use dog eared palings, as shown in my pix, you have to cut the bottom of the paling to adjust the height.

Running a kick plate isn't a bad idea, especially if your dog is hard on fences, just keep it up off the dirt/grass so that rot is deterred. Another option would be to run your kick plate first, face nailed to the posts, then set your paling on top of that. You do have to be careful doing this, though, because palings can vary in length by quite a bit. You'd also want to pull a string to set the kick plate to so that it's a straight line.

If you have irregular ground level, you can cut the paling/kick plate to contour the ground while keeping the tops dead straight with the string line.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:27 pm

All great suggestions. Pics of the gates really help....thanks.

What if I butt the rails up to each post, flush with the post (edge of rail facing up and down)? I'd then be able to miter the end of the two rails that have to attach to the corner gate post. Would I toenail (via screws)?

I've attached a few pics of status. Used up the cement I had (stores are closed today) so proceeding with hole digging.

The gate opening is wider than I wanted but is really the only thing that made sense re placement of the two posts. Should I put in a 3' gate along with adjoining anchored gate? I guess I could build out the corner posts to reduce the width......
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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:56 pm

[email protected] wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:27 pm
What if I butt the rails up to each post, flush with the post (edge of rail facing up and down)? I'd then be able to miter the end of the two rails that have to attach to the corner gate post. Would I toenail (via screws)?
That's what I said earlier about running the rails between posts, you can miter cut the end at the gate post and face nail it. FWIW, "face nail" and "toe-nail" are terms used to describe how something is fastened in place, it is not indicative of the type of fastener used. Yes, screws are easier and acceptable.
[email protected] wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:27 pm
I've attached a few pics of status. Used up the cement I had (stores are closed today) so proceeding with hole digging.
It doesn't look like you crowned the concrete above grade, which will allow water to sit around the base of the post and rot it off. Yes, even PT will rot if it's constantly wet.
[email protected] wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:27 pm
The gate opening is wider than I wanted but is really the only thing that made sense re placement of the two posts. Should I put in a 3' gate along with adjoining anchored gate? I guess I could build out the corner posts to reduce the width......
You mentioned earlier that the gate was about 4' wide, that's about the limit, especially for a 4x4 post. You could do two gates if you wanted to, but honestly, it's not worth it. Instead, I'd install a gate wheel to help carry the load of the gate during operation and while open. I would use a spring suspension, fixed solid or semi-pneumatic wheel, not a caster or pneumatic wheel. Mounting the weight of the gate over the top of the wheel will put the least amount of stress on the gate. Mounting the wheel as most of these are designed, causes the top of the gate to lean forward, that constant torquing on the gate weakens it over time.
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:37 pm

Thanks again. I did crown the concrete slightly but not much of a taper. I will be more conscious for the remaining posts. I definitely have to check out the gate wheel....

For better or worse, I think things are shaping up and I'm getting a more definitive vision of what I'm going to do from here onward.....

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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:39 pm

We look forward to seeing the finished product. 8-)
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Re: Fence Line

Post by Shannon » Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:35 pm

Great post Spruce the description along with photos I’m sure was very helpful here.

“blues” you and Spruce have this handled and you are well on your way to a great long standing fence. Great start!
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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:54 pm

Shannon wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:35 pm
Great post Spruce the description along with photos I’m sure was very helpful here.

“blues” you and Spruce have this handled and you are well on your way to a great long standing fence. Great start!
That's why you pay me the big bucks! BTW . . . I need a raise! :lol:
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Re: Fence Line

Post by Shannon » Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:07 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:54 pm
That's why you pay me the big bucks! BTW . . . I need a raise! :lol:
Raise is in the mail! 😉
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:13 pm

You guys are great.

The hole digging is officially over (very manual....steel pole and an electrical box....)! Only two posts left to set!

So far so good..........

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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:31 am

Guys....another question.....

Any pros/cons to having the rails wide side up, vs narrow side up (and flush to outside of posts)? Should I block under each join?

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Re: Fence Line

Post by A. Spruce » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:40 am

Structural rigidity, a flat 2x is weaker than a 2x on edge, however, this is pretty much a moot point because I have done it both ways and the fence sections still sag over time, you can combat this to a degree by adding a 3rd rail in the middle. Generally, I run my top rail flat on the top of the posts and the bottom rail is on edge. The rails ALWAYS need to be flush to the side the palings are installed on, regardless of being flat or on edge.

There is no need for blocking, two or three toe-nails in each end will suffice. When I run the lower rails, I usually put a toe-nail in from the top, because it's easiest to hold the rail and run the fastener in this position. With the top toe-nail in, I then toe-nail through the face of the rail. I also like to cut my bottom rail just a bit snug so that I can put it into place and it will stay there on its own, this drastically reduces the need for 5 hands to hold it in place and run the fastener in. Additionally, I run the top rail first because when you cut the bottom rail snug, it will splay the posts outward if the tops are not captive.

I think I said this before, I like to run the top rail flat because it finishes off the look of the fence and I feel that it helps to shed water off the posts (end grain absorbs water like a sponge).
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Re: Fence Line

Post by [email protected] » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:00 am

Perfect...thanks.

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Re: Fence Line

Post by Shannon » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:03 pm

I have seen guys actually install the rails as L's so that would give you strength both horizontally and in and out. I have never done that but it does make some sense.
You could have them either flush to picket side of fence or mounted to outside of the posts on picket side.

BTW I have never heard the term "palings" thats a new one for me.
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