How to install pickets for a picket fence

Donna
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Project Overview

Installing pickets to a fence is easy to do yourself. Follow our step-by-step guide and we’ll show you how to position the pickets evenly along the fence line. You’ll also learn how to attach them to the rails. 
Continue to Step-by-step instructions.
This D.I.Y. Advice is part of a series How to build a picket fence

Step by Step Instructions

1 Cut the tops off your posts
2 Measure the pickets and mark the rails
3 Transfer your measurements to the rails
4 Attach the pickets
5 Even spacing at the ends
6 Screw the pickets in place
  • Step 1. Cut the tops off your posts

    Mark the height of the pickets on your posts. Transfer the pencil line around the post. Use your saw to cut the tops off your posts. 

  • Step 2. Measure the pickets and mark the rails

    Find the centre of your rail and measure the width of the picket. Mark the edges of the first picket so that the centre point of the rail sits in the middle of the picket. 

  • Step 3. Transfer your measurements to the rails

    Now, take your level and transfer your measurements to the top and bottom rails. This will ensure that your pickets are straight when you attach them.

  • Step 4. Attach the pickets

    Nail the first picket in place. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to position and fix the remaining pickets, working your way out from the centre. To work out the space between each picket, we have used the thickness of a picket. 

  • Step 5. Even spacing at the ends

    When you get to the end of the run leave the last three or four pickets off so you can adjust your gaps to fit the remaining space. Lay the pickets against the rail and adjust spacing to suit. Mark the edges of each picket on the rail. Again, use your level to transfer these marks to the top and bottom rail. Then nail them in place. 

  • Step 6. Screw the pickets in place

    Once all your pickets are in place, fix them to the rails with outdoor screws. Pre-drill each picket so that it doesn’t split. Use a counter sink fitting to make sure you drill the same depth on each picket. Run a string line along the front of the pickets to make sure your screws are in a straight line.
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