Fences provide you and your family with a sense of security and privacy, plus they are strong design elements that define a home's outward appearance. But fences can be difficult to build and maintain. Wood fences are attractive but high-maintenance. Some untreated wood like cedar can be left on its own to turn silver-gray and streaky—a look that some homeowners do not like. Painted fences give your home a neat, trim look yet become difficult to paint as they age out.
That's where vinyl fences come in. Vinyl fences are highly durable, low-maintenance, and attractive. Vinyl fences are untreated and unpainted because their color is infused in the vinyl. They manage to keep their color from season to season, year to year.
Basics of Building a Vinyl Fence
Vinyl fences rely on an interlocking component system. Upon purchase, you must make sure that you have all of the necessary components to form a complete kit. Otherwise, you will not be able to build the fence as vinyl fences do not allow for improvisation.
Vinyl Picket Fences
Vinyl picket fences begin with anchor pipes driven into the ground by a sledgehammer. Hollow posts slide over the anchor pipes like sleeves. Two anchor pipes form a section in which one fence panel can be built: one rail at the bottom, one rail at the top, and multiple pickets that run through the two rails.
Vinyl Privacy Fences
Taller, six-foot vinyl privacy fences' posts must be anchored into the ground with concrete, like conventional four-by-four fence posts. These posts do not slide over an anchor pipe; they are sunk directly into the concrete. A fence panel is pre-built—a single piece, not separate pieces that must be assembled.
Codes and Regulations
You may need to obtain a permit before building your fence. If so, when the work is complete, an inspector must visit the site and close out the permit. All work must be built according to local building codes and regulations. Look at legal issues such as easements and zoning. Your local permitting department can advise you on local zoning and setback regulations that affect fence construction.
When to Build Your Vinyl Fence
If the ground is frozen, it will be difficult for you to drive the anchor pipes for a picket fence or dig the holes for a privacy fence. Wait until the ground has thawed before starting construction.
Whenever you dig on your property, you should call your local utility locator to visit and identify the location of any underground services such as gas, water, and electrical lines. These services will be marked with color-coded spray paint that eventually wears off on its own.
Equipment / Tools
- Shovel or post-hole digger
- Wood stakes and twine
- Bubble level
- Tape measure
- Cordless drill
- Circular saw
- Vinyl picket or privacy fence set
- Quick-set concrete
- Filler gravel
Installing a Vinyl Picket Fence
Pound the Anchor Pipes Into Place
Locate the positions of the anchor pipes and, with the sledgehammer, pound them into the ground to the required depth.
Install the Posts Over the Anchor Pipes
Slide the post sleeves over the anchor pipes.
Plumb and Secure the Posts
With the bubble level, establish vertical plumb for the posts. Screw the posts into place or secure as required by the manufacturer.
Add Brackets and Rails
Screw the two bottom brackets into place, one on each post. Slide the rail into the brackets and secure the rail.
Repeat the process for the top brackets and rail.
Slide the Pickets Into Place
Pickets slide through holes in the top rail and rest on the bottom rail. Slide all pickets into place for the panel.
Add Post and Picket Caps
Since the posts and pickets are hollow, they must be capped at the top. Snap the caps into place for the entire panel before constructing the next panel.
Installing a Vinyl Privacy Fence
Locate the Posts
Measure the width of the panel and add the specified amount of distance for brackets and for the posts.
Set the Posts
For each panel, dig two holes each about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Exceed the depth of the frost line in your area by about 6 inches. Pour gravel at the bottom.
Set the posts plumb, then add quick-set concrete around the posts and add water to the tops of the holes. Let the concrete cure to full hardness.
Attach Brackets to the Posts
Vinyl privacy fences have different bracket systems that attach to the side of the posts, facing inward. Attach these brackets according to manufacturer instructions.
Slide the Panels Into Place
With assistance, lift the fence panel and slide it into the post brackets. Secure the panel to the brackets.
Add Post Caps
Since vinyl fence posts are hollow, you must add post caps to prevent debris and water from collecting. Push these post caps into place.