/ / Rebuilding a Fence – AKA: REBRACING

Rebuilding a Fence – AKA: REBRACING

This is one of those projects that we were not planning on this year, again. Seems to be a trend around here. But our backyard fence had seen better days, it was breaking/cracking everywhere you looked plus the paint was peeling… So we decided it was time to rebuild a fence AKA: rebracing. Here is what I am talking about.

fixing old wooden fence

Does anyone else have this problem?

We tossed around the idea of filling in the gaps on our side of the fence than paint everything. But we were still worried about the old boards cracking over time and the actual structure of the fence, it was a little wobbly.

In the end, we decided to replace all the boards and re-secure the structure of the fence. It has been a process but the finished product is AMAZING!! Do you want to see?

updated cedar fence

We still need to stain the wood to protect it from the sun plus it will waterproof the wood. We decided to also redo the gate by adding a pergola and building a new wooden gate.

What do you think? We love the new look, it brings a whole new feeling to the backyard. It’s finally feeling like our home. But this adventure took a lot of time, months from start to finish. The biggest reason it took so long was the spring rain. It’s hard to work on a fence in the rain!

But I wanted to share the process we used to redo our wooden fence, this is only PART 1 of this tutorial. But I will also share tutorials on the gate and pergola in another post. To start, here is a list of the supplies and tools we used.

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, click here to read my full disclosure policy



(this is for part 1 & 2)


  • miter saw
  • circular saw
  • level
  • drill
  • pencil or pen

Find the list of tools we use.

SIDE NOTE: You could have a local lumber store that has different sizes of cedar. We found this out at the end of our project when we needed some 10 ft boards. 

Now would probably be a good time to explain the structure of our fence (most fences have the same structure). The beginning of every fence has a post (about 4″x4″ in size) it can be attached to a building or secured in the ground. The posts are normally about 8 ft apart but our fence posts are 10 ft apart (probably a good reason for the sagging). Another element a fence has is horizontal rails (about 2″x4″ in size). Normally between each post, there is a top and bottom rail, this is how to secure the pickets. But sometimes there is a third rail right in the middle of the two other rails. With our fence it had a top and bottom rail, we decided to do the same thing again.

Back to redoing our fence. We had to do our fence in sections because our neighbors have dogs. So to start, we removed all the old wood pickets from both sides of the fence sections. We removed both sides because our old wood rails were sagging and needed to be re-braced to make them level again.

TIP: Whenever you are attaching a screw, pre-drill a hole first with a bit that is just smaller than your screw (we used 1/8″). This will help to not split the boards. So whenever I say attach a screw, always pre-drill the board first (we did!!). 

After removing all the pickets, we could now re-brace the two rails. Our rails were being held up or braced by some 2×4 pieces about 5″ long. But most of these were breaking and needed to be replaced or the rail needed to be re-screwed into place. To do this, we would remove the old braces and rail. Then attached a new 2×4 piece to the posts in the same place, using two or three 3.5″ deck screws.

rebuilding a cedar fence

After putting the braces, we then reattached the rails, again using two 3.5″ deck screws. We did this for both rails. SIDE NOTE: Some of our posts needed bracing because they were splitting, to do this we placed a 2″x4″ board (the same size as the post) on both sides of the post, then attached the 2×4 board (the same size as the post) on both sides of the post, then attached the 2×4 board to the post using 3.5″ deck screws.

rebuild an old fence

After bracing the sides of the rails, we now needed to brace the middle. This is to stop them from bowing because we have a 10-foot span between the posts (there is a picture below to show what I am talking about). To do this, we found the middle of the rail (between the two posts). We needed to brace the bottom and top rail, so below the middle of the bottom rail, we placed a 2×4 board. We first placed an old brick because we did not want to dig to place the 2×4 board. Then we took our level and placed it onto the bottom rail. One of us would move the rail until the board was level, while the other person measured the distance from the brick to the bottom of the bottom rail. This is the size of 2×4 we needed to brace the bottom rail. (You can see this step in the photo above)

We then placed the 2×4 board into place, checking to make sure it was still level and adjust if needed. Once it was level we secured the 2×4 to the bottom rail, drilling through the rail to the 2×4 and attaching with two 3.5″ screws.

After bracing the bottom, we moved to the top rail. Again we placed the level onto the rail, one of us moved the rail until it was level, while the other measured the distance from the bottom of the top rail to the bottom rail. This is the size of 2×4 we needed to brace the top rail.

We then cut a 2×4 to that measurement and placed it into place (making sure it was centered above the bottom rails brace). We checked the top rail again to make sure it was still level, if not we adjusted the 2×4 as needed. We also made sure it was level vertically. Once it was level, we secured the board to the top rail the same way as we did the bottom. But then to attach it to the bottom rail, we drilled a hole at an angle from the brace to the bottom rail and used 3.5″ screws to attach them together (we did one on each side of the brace).

rebracing a fence

Another thing we did was put new 2×4’s on top of all the old top rails. We did this because the old top rails were painted and pretty weathered/worn. Some of the old top rails were so bad that we did not reuse them, we just replaced them with new 2×4’s.

supporting wooden fence

And that is how we re-braced all the rails on our fence.

In PART 2, we share how to add the wood pickets plus we are sharing something we added (AKA: middle rail) to help the pickets. Look for the tutorial in a couple of days!!!

The process to re-brace a fence.

Find the other tutorials on How to Rebuild A Cedar Fence:

Re-bracing Fence – PART 1 (THIS POST)
Installing Cedar Pickets – PART 2
Installing Post for Gate – PART 3
Building A Gate Pergola – PART 4
Building Gate – PART 5
Staining Fence – PART 6
Total Cost to Rebuild Fence – PART 7