Naturally there are plenty of things you’ll need to know if considering a new fence; design, budget, function but it’s also important to be aware of all your options.

When you consider how much impact a fence will have on your house and yard, not to mention the financial outlay, there are no stupid questions.

Our friendly, expert staff are happy to answer your queries, but to save you time, here are some answers to the most common questions we’re asked everyday.

Q1: What if I’m undecided between building a fence myself or hiring a professional?

A: If you’re undecided between building fences yourself or having a professional installation, be aware that fence building is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can also mix and match between building a fence the do-it-yourself way and hiring professionals to help you.

The most difficult part of building a fence is setting the posts in the ground properly. But you could have the posts erected by a professional, then finish off the project yourself. (At Cairns Fencing, we supply a range of prefabricated units. These units are then trimmed to width and secured between the posts. In some cases, brackets are used that make installing the prefabricated units even easier.)

This compromise between building fences yourself and opting for complete professional installation saves you money. It saves you aggravation, too, since you’re having the pros handle the most aggravating part of fence building (erecting the posts). [Source: Lawrence Winterburn,]

Q2: What tools do I need for fence building?

A: Below is a list of some basic tools you’ll need for fence building. Other than the first (post hole augers), these are tools people commonly have on hand.

Tools for Fence Building: Post hole auger, (sometimes misspelled “augur”) Shovel and wheelbarrow for mixing concrete, power saw, Hammer, punch, Carpenter’s square, level, mason’s line.

Post hole augers minimize the effort you’ll have to expend on digging the holes. Unless you have a lot of time, they’re almost indispensable if you’re installing a long fence across rocky terrain. Post hole augers can often be rented from your local rental store.

Q3: How do I match fence design with my home and landscape styles?

A: This FAQ deals with fence design as a matter of form: what homeowners and passersby alike will find visually appealing. As with any hard scaping, visually appealing fence design will consider compatibility both with house style and with landscape style.

First some examples of fence design compatibility with house style. Modernistic house styles are complemented nicely by the sleek lines of iron and aluminium fences. By contrast, split-rail fences and other fence design marked by rugged wooden posts and rails have long been a favourite with ranch-style houses. Likewise, the wooden picket fence seems a natural fit for cottage gardens.

Wooden picket fences evoke images of English cottage gardens, which leads us into the component of the question that deals with landscaping compatibility. Not only wooden picket fences, but also split-rail fences and other fence design comprising just posts and rails are commonly used as backdrops for landscaping plants. Incidentally, even wooden picket fences, to say nothing of solid barrier fences, can create “microclimates” in a garden.

Only a “loose and airy” fence design such as that of split rail fences fails to create microclimates.

Q4: I need a fence design for privacy and prefer wood fences. What are my options?

A: Wood fences provide some of the most attractive options for a fence design geared to privacy. To explore some of the types of wood fences, please see below…. The stockade style is an example of a fence design that can afford a solid barrier between your yard and your neighbour’s, resulting in almost total privacy. While masonry work such as brick can do the same, it costs significantly more than does a wood fence.

Others prefer a compromise on privacy, choosing wood fences with a certain amount of airiness to them, to avoid fencing out the outer world altogether. Tall picket fencing is an example of such a fence design style for partial privacy. Another fence design option here is lattice fencing.

A popular alternative to the two types of fence design discussed above is a hybrid fence design: i.e., a solid barrier for the bottom three-quarters of the fencing, with lattice on top to provide visual interest.

Q5: What are the basic components involved in the construction of a wooden fence?

A: Styles of wooden fences vary greatly. Wooden fence styles include stockade, picket, lattice, and post and rail. Let’s find out what these wooden fence styles have in common…. Despite the variety of wooden fence styles, there are three basic components for building privacy wooden fences. And the first two of these three components form the basis for building just about any wooden fence:


Vertical components rooted firmly in the earth. Properly set posts will hold all the other components in place. They are the foundation for your wooden fence. Posts sometimes stand only as high as the tops of the fence panels. In other wooden fence styles, the posts are allowed to extend above the panels. In the latter case, adding finials is an option for fences performing a decorative function.


Rails do the spanning work in wooden fences, connecting one post to the next. They are your horizontal elements, running parallel to the ground. Top and bottom rails are almost always found in wooden fence styles; many will also have middle rails. It is the rails to which the panels will be attached.

Panels (boards):

The panels are the chief screening component in privacy wooden fences. In open wooden fence styles, such as the post and rail, there are no panels (thus the name, “post and rail”: that’s all there is), meaning they require much less lumber to build.

In wooden fence styles such as the picket and the stockade, panels are vertical components. Each of the distinct panel designs is defined by shape, especially at the top (e.g., some panels terminate in a point). Panels are sometimes attached so as to obscure the posts on one side or the other. Alternatively, the posts may be allowed to jut out in relief on one or both sides.

Q6: I want my fence installation to run smoothly. What preparatory work should I do?

A: Before rushing into fence installation, you need to do a little homework on possible restrictions to fence installation based on where you live and what’s already underground where you propose to dig. Building codes and local zoning ordinances may restrict your fence installation, both in terms of height and design. No one is unequivocally happy about restrictions, but some of the restrictions in this case are sensible. For instance, fencing on a corner lot should not be so high as to obscure drivers’ views at the intersection of the two roads your property abuts – this would create a safety hazard.

Here are some matters to check on prior to fence installation: In some locales, you will need to obtain a building permit prior to the fence installation. Have a surveyor determine precisely where your property boundary lies, unless you’re already positive about this. Alternatively, just make sure the fence lies well within the confines of your own property, rather than near the border. Contact your local utility companies to help you determine the location of underground gas, water and power lines. The service is usually free. Whereas if you damage a power line while making a fence hole, repairing that damage most certainly will not be free.