How to Build a Fence With Railing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you want to create a safe and secure boundary around your home, define different areas in your garden, or add a stylish touch to your outdoor space, a fence with a railing can accomplish all of these goals. However, the process of building such a fence may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never tackled a project like this before. Fear not! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire process, from planning and gathering materials to installing the posts, building the fence panels, and attaching the railing. So, grab your tools, put on your work clothes, and let's get started on this exciting DIY project!

Where Do You Put Rails on a Fence?

When building a fence with railing, it’s important to consider where to place the rails. Fence rails, typically made of two-by-fours, are essential components that provide support and structure to the fence. These rails are installed either between or across posts and serve as a foundation for attaching the fence boards.

A crucial aspect to keep in mind is the placement of the top and bottom rails. All fences require both of these rails to ensure stability and prevent the boards from sagging or buckling. Without these horizontal rails, the fence would lack the necessary support and could be easily compromised.

To determine the number of horizontal rails needed, a general rule of thumb is to have one rail for every 24 inches in height. For instance, a six-foot-high fence would typically require three rails. This evenly spaced placement allows for better distribution of weight and enhances the fences overall durability.

The first rail is typically positioned at the bottom, serving as the foundation for the entire structure. It’s crucial to ensure that this rail is securely attached to the posts to provide stability and prevent any shifting. The subsequent rails are positioned at equal intervals up the height of the fence, with the top rail fulfilling the same purpose as the bottom rail.

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These traditional and sturdy fences are commonly referred to as 3 rail fences due to the number of horizontal rails used in their construction. The doweled wood technique ensures a secure fit and adds to the overall strength and durability of the fence. With their rustic charm and reliable functionality, 3 rail fence doweled wood fences remain a popular choice for property owners looking to enhance the aesthetic appeal and security of their outdoor spaces.

What Is a 3 Rail Fence Called?

A 3 rail fence is commonly referred to as a Doweled Wood Fence or a Western Rail Fence. These types of fences are made using high-quality pressure treated pine rounds that are specifically designed to fit together seamlessly. The unique construction technique involves utilizing a doweled end that’s fitted into a mitered socket, ensuring a secure and durable connection between each rail.

Doweled Wood Fences have long been favored for their rustic aesthetic and traditional charm. They provide a classic look that beautifully complements both residential and rural settings. Additionally, the use of pressure treated pine ensures the fences longevity by protecting it against rot, decay, and insect infestation.

After the preparation of the rails, the fence installation process can commence. The first step involves positioning the corner posts, which will serve as the foundation for the entire fence. Once the corner posts are securely in place, the rails are inserted into the pre-drilled holes in the posts. The doweled ends ensure a tight fit, providing stability and resistance to shifting or sagging.

As the rails are inserted into the posts, the fence gradually takes shape. It’s crucial to maintain consistent spacing between the rails, achieving a uniform appearance. Once all the rails are installed, the fence is secure and ready for finishing touches.

Benefits of a 3 Rail Fence Compared to Other Types of Fences

A 3 rail fence offers several benefits compared to other types of fences.

Firstly, it provides strong support and security due to it’s sturdy construction with three horizontal rails. This makes it an ideal choice for keeping large animals or livestock enclosed within the property.

Secondly, the three rails offer a visual barrier that can enhance the appearance of the fence, making it an attractive addition to any property. The design also allows for better visibility, so you can keep an eye on your surroundings while maintaining privacy.

Additionally, a 3 rail fence is relatively easy to install and requires minimal maintenance. With fewer vertical pickets or boards, there’s less chance for debris buildup or warping, reducing the need for regular repairs or replacements.

Lastly, when considering cost, a 3 rail fence can be a cost-effective option, as it requires fewer materials than some other fence styles. This makes it a practical choice for those on a budget or needing to enclose larger areas without breaking the bank.

In summary, a 3 rail fence offers strength, aesthetics, ease of installation, low maintenance, and cost-effectiveness, making it a favorable choice for various fencing projects.

Source: Split-rail fence

Determining the appropriate distance between posts is crucial when constructing a post and rail fence. Typically, it’s recommended to set the fence posts at a distance of 6′ to 8′ apart. However, various variables like fence type, landscape characteristics, and intended use must be considered before finalizing the spacing. To ensure accuracy, begin by setting the corner or end post, then use guide lines to align all the intermediate posts accordingly.

How Far Apart Should Posts Be for Post and Rail Fence?

How far apart should posts be for a post and rail fence? This is a common question asked by homeowners looking to build a fence with railing. The general rule of thumb is to set fence posts about 6 to 8 apart. However, it’s important to note that the exact spacing of the posts will depend on several factors.

First and foremost, the type of fence you plan to build will influence the spacing of the posts. A post and rail fence typically consists of horizontal rails attached to vertical posts. This type of fence is often used for decorative purposes or to contain livestock.

The terrain of your property is another factor that should be taken into consideration when spacing the posts. If your property has uneven or sloping terrain, you may need to adjust the spacing to accommodate the changes in elevation. In some cases, you may even need to install additional posts to ensure the fence remains level and secure.

The purpose of the fence is also an important consideration. On the other hand, if your goal is simply to create a decorative boundary, you may be able to space the posts farther apart.

In addition to these factors, other considerations such as local building codes and regulations should be taken into account. It’s always a good idea to check with your local authorities to ensure that youre following any necessary guidelines.

To ensure that all the posts are aligned correctly, it’s recommended to start by setting the corner or end post first. Then, stretch a line from each corner or end post to guide the alignment of all the posts in between. This will help ensure that your fence is straight and level.

Types of Post and Rail Fences (e.g. Split Rail, Three Rail, Four Rail)

A post and rail fence, also known as a split rail fence or a ranch fence, is a classic and popular choice for both decorative and functional purposes. It’s characterized by horizontal rails that are attached to vertical posts, creating a sturdy and visually appealing structure.

There are various types of post and rail fences, including:

1. Split Rail Fence: This type of fence consists of long, horizontal rails that are split at the ends and inserted into holes in the vertical posts. Split rail fences have a rustic and natural look, making them a charming addition to any property.

2. Three Rail Fence: As the name suggests, a three rail fence has three horizontal rails attached to the posts. This style provides a slightly more secure boundary while still maintaining an open and inviting feel.

3. Four Rail Fence: Similar to the three rail fence, the four rail fence offers increased stability and is often chosen for properties that require a higher level of security. The additional rail provides an extra barrier, making it an ideal choice for containing larger animals or for areas that need to keep intruders out.

When building a post and rail fence, it’s important to consider your specific needs, the desired level of security, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. Proper installation and maintenance will ensure that your fence remains sturdy and visually appealing for years to come.

Post and rail fencing is a popular choice for both residential and agricultural properties. This type of fence consists of sturdy wooden posts that are set into the ground, with horizontal rails attached between them. It provides a classic, rustic look while also serving as a functional barrier. Post and rail fences are known for their simplicity, durability, and ease of installation, making them a reliable option for those looking to define their property boundaries or create a safe enclosure for animals.

What Is a Wood Post and Rail Fence?

A wood post and rail fence, also known as a post and rail fence, is a traditional and timeless fencing system. It’s a simple, effective, and easily installed style of open fencing that’s commonly used to enclose livestock, define property boundaries, or enhance the aesthetic appeal of a property.

These posts provide the framework for the fence and are often made of durable wood, such as cedar or pressure-treated pine, to ensure longevity and resistance to weathering.

Horizontal rails are then fastened between the posts, creating a sturdy and secure fence. This design allows for the creation of an open and inviting barrier that still provides sufficient containment for animals and defines the boundaries of a property.

The versatility of a wood post and rail fence is another reason for it’s popularity. It can be customized to fit different needs and styles by adjusting the number and spacing of the rails. For example, a two-rail fence may be suitable for enclosing larger areas, while a three-rail fence may offer more security for smaller animals.

Building a wood post and rail fence requires several steps. First, the area where the fence will be installed needs to be cleared and marked, ensuring it’s free of any obstacles or obstructions. Then, holes need to be dug at regular intervals for the posts to be inserted.

Once the posts are in place, the horizontal rails can be attached. This is typically done by drilling holes into the posts and securing the rails with screws or nails. Care should be taken to ensure that the rails are level and evenly spaced for a professional-looking finish.

A wooden fence, also known as a stockade, picket, lattice, post-and-rail, shadow box, scalloped, classic, or solid board fence, offers various styles to suit different preferences. Regardless of the specific design, privacy fences all have fundamental components in common.

What Is a Wooden Fence Called?

Building a fence with railing requires careful planning and execution. Whether youre looking to enhance your homes privacy or add a decorative element to your yard, understanding the different styles is crucial. One of the most popular types of wooden fences is the stockade fence, which features closely-spaced vertical boards that offer maximum privacy.

Another common style is the picket fence, which is characterized by evenly spaced vertical boards with gaps in between. This classic design isn’t only aesthetically appealing but also serves as a decorative barrier. On the other hand, lattice fences are perfect for those who want to add a touch of elegance to their outdoor space. The crisscross pattern of the lattice panels allows for some visibility while still providing privacy.

If youre looking for a more rustic and traditional appearance, consider building a post-and-rail fence. This type of fence is constructed with horizontal rails and vertical posts, creating a visually appealing and sturdy structure. For a more modern look, shadow box fences are an excellent choice. This style features overlapping boards on both sides of the fence, providing some privacy while allowing light and air to pass through.

Scalloped fences are another option for those seeking a unique and decorative touch. These fences have curved tops, creating a whimsical and charming visual effect. Lastly, there’s the classic solid board fence, which offers complete privacy with it’s closely spaced boards. This style is ideal for homeowners who prioritize security and seclusion.

No matter which style you choose, all fences built for privacy share fundamental components. The posts, typically made of wood or metal, provide stability and support for the entire fence. The vertical boards or panels, which can be customized according to the chosen style, are attached to the rails, forming the main body of the fence.

To build a fence with railing, it’s important to begin with thorough measurements and a detailed plan. Securely install the posts, ensuring they’re evenly spaced and properly aligned. Attach the rails to the posts, creating a sturdy framework for the fence. Then, carefully attach the vertical boards or panels, making sure they’re level and securely fastened.

Whether you opt for a stockade, picket, lattice, post-and-rail, shadow box, scalloped, or solid board, all fences for privacy share basic components.


It involves careful planning, preparation, and execution to ensure a sturdy and visually pleasing result. Attention to detail, adherence to local regulations, and the use of appropriate tools and techniques are crucial for a successful project. So, whether it’s for residential or commercial purposes, this comprehensive guide equips individuals with the necessary knowledge to embark on their own fence with railing project.

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