How to Build a Post-and-Rail Fence


Post-and-rail fences add curb appeal and are one of the easiest to build

Build a Post-and-Rail Fence

There are three basic types of post-and-rail fences distinguished by the shape and design of their posts. The fence and the way you install it depends on whether the posts are square, round or pre-mortised. Set square posts into the ground, trim them to height and install the rails. Before setting round posts into the ground, cut notches for the rails. Set and plumb mortised posts as you install the rails.

Shown above: (A) top rail, (B) post, (C) bottom rail, (D) cross-rail.

Begin building a basic post-and-rail fence by setting the posts in the ground at regular 6 to 8-foot intervals. Trim the posts to height and screw on the rails. Fasten the bottom rail 3 to 4- inches above ground level and the top rail so it’s flush with the top of the posts. Cut cross rails and fasten them so the joints fall in the center of each post.

This guide highlights the process for installing a post-and-rail fence in your yard.


Install the rails
Install the rails - How Build Post Rail Fence

Lay out the fence and set the posts into the ground. Mark the posts for bottom rails that are 3 to 4 inches above the ground and top rails flush with the top of the posts. Install top and bottom 1×6 rails long enough to span three posts. The joints should fall at the center of the posts, so two joints never fall on the same post. Level each rail and nail in place with galvanized 10d (3-inch) nails or screw it in place with 3-inch deck screws.

Install the cross-rails
Install cross-rails - How Build Post Rail Fence

Tack cross rails to the posts and mark them for cutting with a framing square. Remove the cross rails, make the cuts with a circular saw, then fasten the cross rails to the posts with galvanized 10d (3-nch) nails or screw them in place with two 3-inch deck screws.