How to build that perfect picket fence

how to build the perfect picket fence

If you are a homeowner there may come a time where you have to replace your fence – and so if you are in this situation why not consider replacing your old dreary fence with a picket fence.



You may be after a bit of extra privacy or you may even want to have a fence to keep the pets in – or for that matter to keep your kids enclosed. Or maybe you just want to add a nice feature to the front of your home.

So, if you are looking to build that perfect picket fence, there are a few things that you need to obtain before starting off your picket fence project. However, before you begin, always check with your local council to determine your property boundaries.

Right – so these are the things you will need:

  • Stakes
  • String
  • Shovel or post hole digger
  • Fence posts
  • Gravel
  • Spirit Level
  • Concrete
  • Timber
  • Pickets
  • Paint or stain
  • Galvanised nails
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Nails

Before you begin, you need to determine where the end, corner and line posts need to be located, and then mark them off with the stakes.

picket fence building

build a picket fence

Next up, you need to dig the holes where each post is going to be located. Each hole needs to be about 0.5m in depth. It’s a good idea to make sure that your holes are about double of the width of your posts to allow for adjustment. To avoid your posts rotting prematurely, cut the top of your posts at a slight angle to allow the water to flow off, or else you can choose to cap your posts as well.

When constructing your picket fence, its easiest to install the end post first, followed by the line post, which should be spaced evenly at about 2m intervals. Before you concrete your posts into position, add about 50mm of gravel to the bottom of each hole.

Make sure each post is plumb, and then pour in the concrete.

Line posts can be set the same way as your end posts.

The next step is to measure and cut the rails to length between the posts. Always make sure that you have measured correctly. Remember – measure twice – cut once is the motto.

You will need to work out how many pickets you will need. A good tip is to ensure that you paint or stain your pickets BEFORE you start assembling your fence. This will save you heaps of time.

The next step is to fasten the rails to the posts using the galvanised nails. The bottom rail should be about 150mm from the bottom, and the top rail should sit about 50mm from the top of the post. To keep the bottom of your pickets up off the ground, you can use a plinth. For extra strength, you can check the rails into the plinth using a housing joint.

The next step is to measure where each of the pickets should go along the rails at even intervals – and mark with a pencil line.

build your own picket fence

A good tip is to use a small block of wood as a spacer to ensure that all your pickets are perfectly even.

picket fence spacing

You then need to nail each picket to the rails and you should then be finished – you have just created the perfect picket fence.

how to build the perfect picket fence

Remember, if you are not using a plinth at the bottom to keep your pickets nice and level, put your outside pickets on first and then run a stringline straight over the top and align all the inner pickets.

All your pickets will then be nice and level.

And there you go – building the perfect picket fence could not be easier.


Why not take a look at some of these picket fence construction guides to help you along the way.