This is how we rebuilt our cedar fence but if you happened to miss PART 1 (bracing the fence) you can find that, HERE.
Our backyard fence has had a big transformation over the past months, it is a night and day difference. Do you want to see what I am talking about?
Our fence before was very very sad and things were falling apart. So we decided to rebuild the whole thing. I shared the process we used to rebrace all the rails of our fence previously because this fence was not the sturdiest and today we are adding the pickets. In the following weeks, I will be sharing tutorials on building a gate with a pergola over it. To start, here is a list of the supplies and tools we used. Some links in this post are affiliate link for your convenience, click here to read our full affiliate policy.
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.
Here is where I am going to tell you what we had to come back and fix after installing all the pickets, yes ALL. After installing all the pickets, a couple of weeks later, we started to notice that the pickets were bowing away from the fence, not all but a lot. So we decided to add another rail to fence, right in the middle to fix the pickets from bowing. Yes, we had to remove some of the pickets to add this new rail, so PLEASE save yourself some time and install a middle rail before the pickets!! We installed the middle rail the same way as the other two rails.
We braced the one end of the post with a 5″ 2×4 pieces (we cut two for each rail), remember we did add a middle brace so we did have to brace the middle rail to the board in the middle. After adding the one 5″ piece, we cut a 2×4 board to be the middle rail, we measured from post to brace. We then placed the middle rail into place, took our level and moved the board until it was level. We marked the bottom where the other side of the middle rail hit the post (or brace). This is the mark to place the other 5″ 2×4 brace piece. We secured the 5″ piece into place with screws (just like before) then placed the middle rail into place and secured with two 3.5″ screws. We continued this rail from post to post (or post to brace in our case) for the whole fence. Here is an example of what I am talking about.
After rebracing and installing the rails, we were ready to install the pickets. We decide that we did not want our pickets right by each other, we wanted a little gap. We decided on this because some of the pickets are not as square as you would hope! So this would give us some wiggle room and we liked the look better.
We decided on a 1/4″ gap between each board. To make things easy, we used a scrap 1/4″ strip of MDF we had on hand from our kitchen cabinet project. Another thing I would suggest is to leave at least a 1/2″ gap (I liked it more between 1″-2″) at the bottom of the pickets to the ground.
To install the pickets the process was simple but to make it even easier you will want 2 people. We placed the 1/4″ board as a spacer between the boards. TIP: On your first or second picket take your level and make sure the boards are level. DON’T do what we did and have the space/gap not level. We had to fix a big section because of this and it does NOT look good. And don’t just do it once, make sure to you are checking the level about every ten pickets. If you are not level, adjust the space between the boards and if you are really need to adjust do this gradually (over a couple of pickets).
Something else we had to worry about was trying to keep the top of the pickets level. You could use a small piece of rope but we had the problem of our ground slopping. What we did was eye-ball it. So when we were in the leveler parts of the yard, we tried to keep things level by just looking at the placement. When things started to slope, we gradually sloped with the ground (about an 1/4″ pre-picket). There were some places that we got some fill dirt to make it not so much of a gap between the pickets and ground. Another thing to note is that we never moved our boards up, we would cut the bottom of the picket if it was too long.
To install a picket, we would place the 1/4″ spacer against the last picket then place the next picket right against the spacer. One of us (me) would hold the picket into place, while the other (Eric) would check the level (ground space and top of picket). Eric did this because he is taller than me! When everything looked good, he took the drill with a drill bit and pre-drilled two holes into the top rail and two into the bottom rail. Then he added 2″ deck screws into the pre-drilled holes, being care about not drilling to far into the picket with the screw.
Then we moved to the next picket, doing the exact same process. Don’t worry about the middle rail just yet, save so time and do it later.
We found that we needed to cut some of the pickets to fit in the end of the space. To do this, we measured the gap than subtracted 1/2″ (sometimes the top and bottom gap was different so measure both). After we marked a picket with the measurement, I then took a circular saw and cut along the line. This gave us our adjusted picket.
Once all the pickets are installed have one person take a drill and pre-drill two holes along the middle rail for all the pickets. Then have someone else follow drilling the 2″ screws into place. We did this in sections but it made adding the screws so much faster!
And that is how we re-braced our wooden fence and installed new cedar pickets. What do you think?
How about a before and after again?
The difference is amazing, right? And that is how we re-braced our fence (PART 1) and installed new pickets. Stay tuned for how to build a simple pergola over a gate, build a wooden gate, stain/waterproof a fence, and the cost break-down. Anyone else need to redo their fence?
Find the other tutorials on How to Rebuild A Cedar Fence:
Re-bracing Fence – PART 1
Installing Cedar Pickets – PART 2 (THIS POST)
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
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