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How to Install a Vinyl Fence (Step-by-Step with little know tricks)7 min read

How to Install a Vinyl Fence (Step-by-Step with little know tricks)7 min read

Do you want to add beauty, envy your neighbor and increase the resale value to your home? Vinyl fencing is hands-down the best way to accomplish all that. You want to know how to install the vinyl privacy fence, so you can have that BBQ without someone looking over?

Vinyl fencing comes with a variety of different styles and colors. And the best of all it’s virtually maintenance free.

Before undertaking any fencing project, take care to choose the type of vinyl fencing that is right for you.

Some of the items to consider are:

Are you fencing a large area?

Do you want full or semi-privacy fencing?

What style will work best with your home’s existing architecture?

Once you’ve determined the style, color and other options you want in a vinyl fence, it’s time to begin the installation.

The following guide will provide you with step-by-step fencing installation instructions, as well as some time-saving hints and tricks used by the pros.

If you are just planning to buy a house, and if you don’t see a fence, then follow this guide and you can do this easy and quick upgrade.

Before You Start

Before beginning any fencing project, check local codes concerning fence installation.

I can’t stress this enough.

Listen:

If you are doing something inside your house and not pulling a permit (for the ones that is required) you might just be fine.

And if you are not following the code no one will find out and you will be fine – even though, I wouldn’t suggest that.

This is fencing.  It’s so obvious that everyone and their dog will know this.  Don’t take chances here.  Check your local code.

You may be required to provide a setback from your property line to the fence line.

In most instances, your fence should be placed 2” inside the property line.

ALERT: Also, make sure to call your local utility locating service to mark telephone, cable television, gas lines, and other utilities.

You don’t want to create a mess. Do you?

Gather the Tools:

  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Post Hole Digger
  • Tamping Bar
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Wooden Stakes (Optional)
  • String & String Level
  • Drill
  • Wheel Barrow
  • Garden Hose
  • Goggles and Gloves (and any other safety stuff, as needed)

1. Site Preparation

Site preparation for vinyl fencing installation is minimal.  Obviously, all large obstacles must be moved or fenced around.

If the area to be fenced is on a slope, you must determine how the fencing will be contoured to the landscape.

Your fencing can be angled or stepped up/down to accommodate the grade depending on personal taste.

In any case, this is a good time to step back and think how you want it when finished.  Spend some time planning.

Remember the saying…

Measure twice, cut once?

2. Post Marking and Layout

Begin your layout by staking each corner of your fence perimeter. Rebar works best, but wooden stakes may also be used.

Once your fence perimeter is staked, tie a string line between each stake. Determine whether the string line represents the outside or inside edge of your posts.

Don’t forget to stake out all gate openings.

With your corners staked and string line in place, you’re ready to mark for post holes.

Posts should be placed every eight feet on center. Measuring can be done with a large tape measure or a measuring wheel.

Using marking paint, spray a mark 2 1/2” from the string ling to accommodate the width of a 5” post.

3. Digging Post Holes

The fastest, easiest and by far, the most headache-free way to dig post holes is with a power auger.

Augers are a god sent. Especially, if you have a very large yard.

Augers can be rented by the hour from your local tool rental supplier. There’s nothing worse than digging post holes by hand in rocky soil or in soil with dense root structures.

Unless your project is very small, some kind of power auger is highly recommended.

Each post hole should be approximately 30” deep – that’s 2.5 feet deep.

For 5-inch posts, the hole size should be 12 inches and for 4-inch posts, the hole size should be 10 inches.

4. Setting Fence Posts

Begin by placing a post in each hole.

Set one 80 pound bag of Quikrete beside each hole. Each post will use a full 80# bag and approximately 1 gallon of water.

Note: If your soil is extremely moist, you can reduce the amount of water.

When all of your materials are laid out, begin placing your first post. Fill the hole around each post with concrete approximately 2” below grade.

Ensure the mix is fairly stiff—enough to support the posts as you plum each one.

When the hole is full, tamp the concrete mix to eliminate air pockets.  You need the concrete to be packed.

At this point, you should level and square each post. You don’t have to rush but it’s good to make it plumb at this stage.

All posts should be given at least 24 hours to set up before further work is started.

Let the concrete cure – this is super important.

5. Install Rails

At this point, all posts should be plumb and level and have had ample time to set up.

Now you are ready to install the fence rails. This is where fencing varies greatly. There are many types of fencing systems.

Each with their own mounting and installation methods.

For specific vinyl fence installation instructions, consult with the manufacturer or refer to the specification provided.

However, I am going to assume the most common and carry on with this guide.

The most common rail installation method involves notching the end of each rail. Then, attaching a metal insert, which snaps into the notches.

The insert serves to join neighboring rails within the post.

Begin with the bottom rail first. DO NOT INSTALL THE TOP RAIL AT THIS POINT.

6. Installing Pickets

Installation of fence pickets is fairly simple.

Most vinyl fencing pickets are designed with a U-channel which allows each piece to fit securely within the next.

U-channel is similar to the tongue and groove system used in hardwood flooring.

Your fencing system will most likely include a separate U-channel piece. This piece is designed to be mounted to each post as an anchor for your picket slats.

Begin by installing the stand-alone U-channel, then insert your first picket.

Work your way down each 8’ section until you are approximately 2/3 down the rail. Then begin installing rails from the opposite end, working toward the middle.

At this point, your last picket should slide in from the top, connecting the two portions of fencing.

When all pickets are installed, cap off the section with the top rail. Begin at one end and gently work the top of each picket into the U-channel on the bottom of the top rail.

Once all the pickets are in place, insert the loose-rail end into the post.

7. Installing Post Caps

Post caps are the finishing touch for your project.

To apply, simply coat the inner edges of each cap with PVC glue and press firmly on each post to ensure proper adhesion.

Before you put the post caps on, it’s a good idea to do your Quality Assurance Checks.

Go around, inspect and make sure all is done well.

8. Installing Vinyl Fence Gate

The Gates must be preassembled before installation.

Most gates are assembled much the same as a section of fence. Installing the bottom rail between two posts, then placing pickets and capping the gate with a top rail.

However, unlike a section of fence, gates use a diagonal brace to provide support. Your gate brace should extend from the top rail on the latch side to the bottom rail on the hinge side or vice versa.

The brace is usually secured to the gate by inserting a 1 1/2” screw through the brace and into each picket.

At this point, you are ready to attach the hinges.

Begin by marking where you will attach each hinge.  One side to the gate anchor post, one to the gate post itself. Attach each hinge with 1 1/2” stainless steel screws.

Moving to the opposite end of the gate, install the latch similarly. Mark where you will attach each side of the latch, then using 1 1/2” stainless steel screws attach both parts.

Conclusion

Vinyl fencing is a worthwhile, beautifying project for any home.

Installation by the average homeowner may sound a bit daunting. But with the right instructions, the right preparation, and a little patience, you can do it yourself.

If all this sound like too much to handle, don’t worry.  Just try one section as a dry run. It’s just “rinses and repeat” several times over.

What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to let your dog off the leash?

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