I’ve always dreamed about having a picket fence. And after painting the exterior of our house, it felt like the logical next step! After figuring out the cheapest way to get a picket fence, I was finally ready to begin! Here’s how how to build a picket fence. Plus I’ll have a price breakdown for you!
Here’s a before photo with our old field fence. We put it up right when we moved in to keep our dogs from escaping the backyard. However, it was always meant to be a temporary fix until a prettier fence could go in.
Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did to build the picket fence. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. P.s. I’m trying to build that page up, so if you’d subscribe, I’d really appreciate that!
- 3 Finish Screws $30
- 3 Cedar Posts $53.65
- 8 Fast Setting Concrete Mix bags $43.84
- Ultra Pure White Exterior Paint in Satin (we used 4 gallons) $167.92
- 5 Post Caps $27.85
- Gate Hardware Set $46
- 10 2×4’s $26.40 (we had this on hand)
- Bolt Cane $16.20
- Fence Pickets $55.89 (we used repurposed fence pickets)
The fence we built was about 22′ long with an 8′ gate. If you need to buy all the supplies for this length of fence, it’d cost around $470.
Start by digging the holes for the posts. For this, we used a post hole digger to dig down until it was 24″ deep. Then the post went into the hole. Use stakes and braces to keep the post level.
This is the concrete we used. It was super nice because we just poured it in the hole. We used 2-3 bags per hole. There’s a graph at the store that told us how many we needed for the size of our hole and number of posts. After the concrete is poured into the hole, fill it with water. The bags will say how much water to use. We needed 3 gallons.
Once the concrete is dry, attach 2×4’s to the fence posts to create fence panels that are 8′ long each. Next, use exterior paint to cover all wood. Painting will greatly extend the life of a fence as it protects from rot.
Next, lay the pickets over 2 boards and paint them white. Once they’re dry, attach them to the fence panels. I painted the backs and screwed the painted side to the 2×4’s and then painted the front of the pickets once they were installed. Each picket had 4 screws anchoring it the the posts.
Finally, finish up the fence by cutting the fence posts all to the same height. Add a fence post for decoration and to add protection to the posts. This helps water run off the post and prevents mold and mildew on the post.
Ta da! Isn’t it so pretty and quaint?! I honestly love it! So much better than the field fence (that served us well).
Note, our pickets have a bit of a unique pattern on the top of them. We repurposed the shutters from our house and so we did our best to make do. I actually love that it’s different from anyone else’s fence. And I LOVE that I got to save the old shutters and re-use them!
I thought I might answer a few questions I’ve received as our fence went up. Hopefully these answers are helpful if you build your own picket fence.
A white picket fence symbolizes the American dream. A large house in a quiet middle-class suburban neighborhood with a picket fence represents the image of an ideal life. You know- 2.5 kids and a dog ;).
How tall should a picket fence be?
My home improvement store sells fence pickets in 6′ heights. But, most people cut them down to 3 or 4 feet tall if using for a picket fence. My fence is 3 feet tall. Picket fences are not for privacy, so they are usually shorter than other fences.
A picket fence is made of wood, so they do have a shorter life span than a vinyl fence. Usually, they last around 15 years. However, if you keep up on the maintenance (painting and keeping all the screws attached), you can typically prolong it to 20 years or more.
Should fence pickets touch the ground?
The fastest way to rot a fence is to have it touch the ground. That’s where the most water will be which will cause rot and decay. So, no, fence materials besides the fence posts should touch the ground. Since we have small dogs, we placed come gravel under the fence (still not touching it) to prevent our dogs from escaping under it.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.