Custom built fences, also known as stick built fences, are the common trend in the Raleigh NC area. This means the fence posts are set, the runners, or 2×4’s that the pickets are attached too, are constructed, the pickets are put up individually, and the top is cut to the style desired. Setting posts for custom built fences differs from setting posts in panel fencing. In panel fencing, the panels are pre-made, and the posts must be set to the length of the panel. In custom building, the post spacing is determined by the length of the run of fencing.
Custom fence building uses a technique known as equal post spacing. In simple terms, this means the posts will be the same distance apart on any given fence line. This is even more important if the fence you are building has an arched or scalloped top. The last thing you would want is to have eight foot long arches on a fence run with a two foot long arch at one end. With equal spacing, all the fence post spacing will be the same. The secret to equal spacing is to find a number between seven and eight that will divide into the length of the fence run equally. For an example, a 100′ fence run would have post spacing of 7.7 feet. 100′ divided by 7.7′ = 12.98. That means a 100′ run of fencing will have 12.98 sections at 7.7′ post spacing. Its not exact, but once the fence is finished, you will never notice the .02 ‘ difference. So how did we determine 7.7′? It’s really quit simply. We know the run of fencing is 100’/ We start by dividing 100 by 7.5.The answer is 13.33, or 13 and 1/3 section. This would be a noticeable difference, so it wont work. Next we tried 7.6. The answer is 13.15. This could work, but if working with 8′ 2×4’s for the runners, the last section may exceed 8’. Next we tried 7.7. The answer is 12.98. That’s pretty close to a full number and will work great.
When figuring equal fence posts spacing, there are a few things to remember. Try to find a number between 7 and 8 that will go into the length of the fence run equally without going over a whole number. 12.87 is better than 13.20.Its OK for different fence runs to have different spacing. If the side line has 7.7′ spacing and the back line has 7.4′ spacing, it is OK. You will not see the difference once the fence is completed. Try not to go over 7.8′ spacing. Its easy to be off by an inch and go over eight feet. If you plan on using 2×4 lumber for your rails, and end up spacing posts over 8′, it will result in a trip to the lumber store for 10′ long 2×4’s!
Take your time and draw your project on paper. Figure out the equal post spacing before you start digging. Planning before building will save you time and money.