How do I install an aluminum fence myself?
Installing an aluminum fence may seem like an overwhelming project, but with the right preparation and planning, it is a very manageable project that can add value and appeal to your home.
The first step in the aluminum fence DIY project is deciding what kind of fence to install. Examine your needs. Do you want a fence to keep pets or kids in the yard? Then the best bet would be a fence with narrow openings. If you are looking for a more decorative fence, then there are many options to choose from. If privacy is your concern, then a fence with solid panels is the best option. Selecting a fence that best fits the style and design of your home is also an important factor to consider.
Once the type of fence has been selected, the next step is finding the boundaries of the yard. It is extremely important to locate property lines to avoid costly mistakes and conflict with neighbors. A professional survey of your property is the best way to accurately locate the property lines. It is a good rule of thumb to install the fence at least two inches inside the property line. This is a good time to consider any drastic slopes and how they will affect the fence installation. It is also the time to determine locations for gates or breaks in the fence.
Another important step is to determine if any permits or variances are needed before you begin installation. To avoid any problems later on, check with your local government to make sure you are in compliance with all applicable codes and laws before you start installing the fence. This is also a good time to call your area’s utility companies to have them locate any buried electrical, gas or phone lines before you begin installation.
The next step in the process is to stake out the fence. First, place stakes at the corner points and stretch a string between the stakes. Next, use the manufacturer’s guidelines and place stakes at each point where a post will be located. Make sure the stakes are in contact with the string to keep them in a straight line. You can now accurately measure the length of the fence and order the correct amount of materials.
After all the post locations have been marked, it is time to begin digging the post holes. The two main tools to choose from are a post-hole digger or an auger. The auger makes the job go much more quickly, especially if the ground is hard. If you are using a post-hole digger, it is a good idea to soak the post locations with water the night before to make them softer for digging. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for the proper depth of the holes. Posts that support gates are typically dug deeper than posts along the main line. It is best to make the holes wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. This helps in the stabilization of the post. After each hole is created it is important to add about six inches of gravel to the bottom of the hole. This will allow water to drain away from the post.
When the concrete is dry, it is time to begin installing the fence panels. Usually this involves screws, or nuts and bolts. Make sure all connections are fastened tightly. After the main panels are connected, the last step is to install the gates. Again, make sure all connections are securely fastened. If your fence comes with fence caps, this is the time to install them. Tap them into place with a rubber mallet, to avoid damaging the caps. When this step is done, your aluminum fence DIY project will be complete.
Typically, you will want to start out by first installing your gate. This will serve as your starting anchor point for the rest of the posts and panels you will be installing. Cement the gate posts using the technique outlined previously and hang your gate.
Then, work off of the gate with one fence panel temporarily securing the panel to the next post using rubber bands, straps or rope. This will allow you to then plumb, level and visually step back and align the panel’s rails with the gate.
You will then set the panel-to-post connection by self-tapping stainless steel, powder coated head, screws through each post-to-rail connection as seen on the graphic to the left.
The next step is to set the post that is attached to the panel. It is best to use a fast-setting concrete. Place the post in the center of the hole and then add the concrete. Fill the hole to within four inches of the top; this leaves enough space to later add dirt and grass seed to cover the concrete. Use a level to make sure the post is standing straight. Also make sure the connecting points on the posts are facing the right direction. Before the concrete completely sets, check the level again to make sure it hasn’t learned or moved.
You will follow this process sequentially setting fence panel then post until you have completed your fence. The learning curve will make the first couple of panels take a while, but you will get much faster and more efficient as you work. About 90% of our homeowner customers nationwide install our fencing products themselves. And, most of these customers do so without having any previous fence installation experience.
Once all the posts are in place, it is important to let the concrete set and dry completely, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This may take two or three days, but failing to wait long enough could result in a faulty installation of the fence, causing damage and risking unwanted expenses needed to repair the problem.