Building a Fence Part II
Building a fence part I covered installing posts and rails. The article can be found here…
This second part is about installing pickets.
I took pictures of the types of pickets available at my local Home Depot.
The least expensive choice was white wood, stained a golden color. I believe what they are calling “white wood” is actually Douglas-fir. I don’t think this material will last as well as cedar.
There were two choices in 5 1/2″ wide cedar.
The first choice was 5 1/2″ cedar with plain ends.
The second choice was 5 1/2″ cedar with a dog ear design. These were on sale for the same price as the 5 1/2″ plain end pickets.
There were also two choices in 3 1/2″ wide cedar pickets.
The 3 1/2″ cedar dog ear pickets were the highest cost per foot of all the choices.
The 3 1/2″ plain end cedar pickets were slightly more expensive per foot than the 5 1/2″ choices.
There are several choices for installing the pickets. The two most common are installing the pickets on either the outside or the inside of the rails. I have seen every other picket alternated between the inside and outside of the rail. I have also seen the pickets alternated inside and outside by 8 foot section. I’ve even seen diagonal and horizontal pickets. Drive around and look at some fences to get an idea of what you like.
I mounted my rails flush to the inside edge of the posts. I chose to install my pickets on the outside of the rail between the posts. I feel that having the posts visible adds a bit of interest to the design. I chose 3 1/2″ pickets with plain ends for two reasons. Judging by the number of defects in the pile, I think that 5 1/2″ boards are more prone to splitting. The 96″ space between my posts is not evenly divisible by either 3 1/2″ or 5 1/2″ pickets. This spacing problem will be more noticeable with dog-eared pickets. This picture shows the rear corner of my fence, looking toward my house.
I purchased a few 5 1/2″ wide pickets to fill in the odd sized spaces. I held the picket in place and had my wife draw a line on the inside edge. Then I ripped the picket to fit. The scattered odd sized pickets are not noticeable.
To attach the pickets to the rails, I used 1 1/4″ Grip Rite Primeguard screws. These coated screws are rated for treated lumber and exterior use. I feel that a center screw, driven into each of the three rails, is sufficient for 3 1/2″ wide pickets. I pushed the pickets tight together. When first purchased from a lumber yard, the pickets tend to be wet. They will shrink as they dry and form a small gap. Depending on distance and viewing angle, a fence can appear almost transparent with any gap at all.
Here is an inside view. I installed the pickets so they were about 1″ off the ground. I snapped a chalk line between the tops of the posts. Next, I trimmed the tops of the pickets to length.
Our city has a bulk trash pickup service twice a year. I cut up the old fence and threw it in the street for collection.
Part III can be found here…