Installing Wood Fence Rails
Time Required: 2-4 hours
Fence rails can be installed between or across posts, using hangers, nails or screws to fasten them.
Tip: Rails placed wide side up resist side-to-side pressure. Rails placed narrow side up sag the least and are recommended for heavy fences and those with posts that are 6 feet or more apart.
- Transfer the layout lines to the other posts using a line level and mason’s line. (Don’t use ordinary string because it stretches.)
- If you’re hanging the rails between posts, use a square to transfer the lines to the inside faces of the posts.
Face up on cleats: Fasten 2x cleats (small blocks of wood) to the fence with #8 2 ½-inch deck screws. Place the rails on the cleats and drive two screws at an angle through the ends of the rails into the cleats.
Tip: When attaching rails to the sides of posts, use 16-foot rails and stagger them so there is only one joint per post. Don’t cut notches in the posts to hold the rails; it creates a lot of work and weakens the posts.
Narrow edge up: Cut the rails so joints fall at the center of posts and the ends butt together tightly. Fasten the rail to the posts with #8 2½-inch deck screws.
Cap rails: Cut rails so the joints fall at the center of the posts and the ends butt together tightly. Cut a 45-degree miter on rails that meet over corner posts. Fasten with 10d (3-inch) nails or #8 2 ½-inch deck screws.
Cut rails so the joints fall at the center of the posts. Put the rails on the posts, butting the ends tightly. Fasten the rails to the posts with #8 2 ½-inch deck screws.