The type of fence that you pick for your property is a personal choice guided by several factors: what you want your fence to do, what you want your fence to look like, and how competent you are at building projects. Luckily there are perfect fence designs for nearly every need and many easy ways to create them.
Before You Build
Check your local zoning laws to make sure you are allowed to have a fence where you plan on putting one. If you can build a fence, there may be regulations about placement in relation to streets or neighboring properties that you will need to consider. Also find out if you are required to have a building permit and if inspections are required.
Fences are typically made of one of three types of materials: wood, vinyl, or chain link and iron. All three have good and bad points that you need to know to make the best decision for your property. Wood offers a warm, natural look, and in the case of a privacy fence usually provides a more solid wall that blocks the outside view. The downside to wood is that even treated material will decay faster than other materials, and it will require regular upkeep to look its best. Vinyl works as well as wood for privacy or decorative fencing and lasts longer without needing a lot of maintenance. Vinyl is considerably more expensive than wood. Chain link or wrought iron makes a sturdy fence for protection but is not very good for privacy, and chain link is one of the least decorative types of materials for fencing. In some cases an artful arrangement using plant life or plastic strips woven into the chain link can help make a more pleasing appearance. Even at its best chain link is not usually selected for its beauty or privacy features. Wrought iron, on the other hand, is quite decorative but not very good for privacy or protection.
Prefabricated or Handmade
You can buy all of the various fence types in sections of premade panels that are easier to install than made-from-scratch fence panels. Wood fences are the most common type of fence homeowners attempt to create from scratch, and they are not difficult to make. Vinyl fences are not often made from scratch, but the materials are easily found and the pattern to make them would be the same as for a wood fence of comparable style. Wrought iron fences are rarely handmade from scratch as they require welding materials to create, which are outside the scope of the average handyman's garage. You can build chain link from scratch, but this is difficult because of the tension required to keep the sections of wire from sagging. Most often these fences are purchased in sections unless they are professionally installed.
Measuring Your Fence
When buying materials for a fence you need to know how much fencing you require. You need to measure the ground along the actual path you want your fence to take. The total length of the fence line is the amount of fencing you will need.
Regardless of the type of fence you choose and how it is made, what will make it look great is how it is installed. Make sure the top line of your fence is level. You may have to dig a trench to give it an even base. If you live in a freeze zone, make sure your fence posts are planted well below the frost line to avoid the heaving that will make your fence uneven. In most areas where winter includes freezing weather, the frost line is 4 feet deep, so you will have to make sure your fence posts are long enough to be inserted 4 feet into the earth and still stand as tall as you need for your fence.