5 Steps to Building a DIY Ranch Style Fence

A while ago I was at the property staining and sealing the fence we had built. It was the hot Louisiana summer but I didn’t mind the sweat that day. The sun was shining but the oaks were creating the perfect shade and breeze. It was quiet. I was alone. I couldn’t hear anyone around. Few cars passed by.

Just like the dry wood, I soaked it all in. For hours.

There’s something special about the country. The hard work it requires. The quiet and the serenity that comes along with it. It all makes you appreciate life differently, and perhaps, a little more.

And, nothing says country like a ranch style fence. White, stained, livestock or not, the farm look is dreamy. So that is what we chose. And boy, it is pretty!

Whether you are going for the look, need, or both, it’s good to know that you can do it yourself. You can do it with basic skills, a small budget, and at your own pace. You can enjoy some alone time. You can even do it with a handful of kids. I recommend a little of both!

I’m going to give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to construct one made out of wood and accessible supplies found online or at your local hardware store.

Use your own mind and muscles to save money. Sneak away for the afternoon or set up a play area to keep the kiddos occupied (see our tent playhouse below).

Then, start painting the picture of your country living dreams!

Prep

Decide on the design.

I’ve seen three slats, two slats and cross slats. We chose three wood slats because we wanted it tall and sturdy, and we liked the look of it.

See how the materials are sold.

We chose four inch by six inch treated lumber as posts. Since the posts were sold in 12 foot increments, we cut them in half and used six feet each. We chose two inch by six inch slats. Since the slats were sold by eight foot increments, we decided to put the posts eight feet apart. With a budget in mind, we wanted to be as efficient as possible.

Draw it out on paper.

Sketch out your design and draw a diagram of how it will be constructed.

Walk-thru and measure it out.

Space and mark it out. Make sure it’s exactly how you imagined it and that you can make it happen.

Determine the total calculations, supplies needed, and cost.

  • Posts – we used 4” x 6” (pressure treated ground contact)
  • Slats – we used 2” x 6” (pressure treated ground contact)
  • Nylon string
  • Post hole digger – we used a rental and a manual one
  • Cement – approximately 2 bags to one post
  • Wheel barrow or bucket to mix
  • Stirrer
  • Level
  • Tape Measure
  • Drill
  • 3 ½” #10 outdoor wood screws
  • Oil based paint brush
  • Stain & Seal

Steps

  1. String
    • Stretch a roll of durable string across the span of your fence. This will help you stay straight and in line. And trust your husband if he says it works every time!
  2. Posts
    • Dig a hole to bury the post approximately 18 inches in the ground and three to four inches around. We used a 10” auger. This will give you the support that you need to stay upright and durable.
  3. Slats
    • Connect each post with three wood slats and secure with wood screws. Use a drill that is lightweight like a Dewalt Compact Drill. It will make it much easier and faster!
  4. Trim Tops
    • Measure four inches from the top slat and use a hand saw, chainsaw or skill saw to cut off.
  5. Seal
    • Give a few weeks for the lumber to dry out, then stain and seal. We did the two in one step by using Thompson’s WaterSeal Timber Oil – Transparent Walnut. I loved this dark color that canceled out the yellow tones of the pine. Make sure you shake often. If not, you will have different variations when applying.  

As we have envisioned what it would look like out here, I have always thought about a fence. A fence that sealed us in. Wrapping around the place we have built from the ground up. Protection and separation from the rest of the world. A way to define our safe space.

We did it. And the best part is, we did it ourselves.

I’ll remember the team work it took with my husband. I’ll remember the kids carrying the boards and drilling in the screws. I’ll remember them stamping their initials in the concrete. I’ll remember enjoying the still of the silence and sun.

It will take many hours and some will power, but it is totally doable. We came in under budget and saved half of what it would have cost in labor.

Grab some cold beverages, a bag of sunflower seeds, and get to work. The time and effort will be worth the pride and memories.

Published by Tova Stelly

Mom, homemaker, and design enthusiast building a life on four acres.

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