Planning and Installation

Installing a fence creates a private, outdoor living/entertainment space for your family and friends. It also provides added security and value to your property.

There are several material options to choose from when building a fence. These include cedar, treated wood, PVC, synthetic wood, enamelled steel, wrought iron and vinyl-coated chain link.

Some factors to consider before you make any final design decisions are: function, budget, local bylaws and location. Also, if you have neighbours, look into the possibility of sharing the costs with them.


Fence Planning

 Determine Your Requirements

Careful planning makes completing a fencing project relatively quick and easy. Start by deciding on the type of fencing your property requires, exactly where you'd like to install it and the model and materials you'll be using. The function of your fence should be your first and prime consideration; next, check if any municipal bylaws or regulations apply (maximum height, materials permitted, minimum distance). Once you have that information, you can determine the exact location of your fence.

 Establish Function


When your backyard joins a neighbour's yard or faces a busy street, opt for a solid-panel or fine-trellis fence. This will ensure your privacy and block out an unwanted view.


In areas with a lot of traffic or a neighborhood where safety is an issue, a high vertical fence is the preferred option. A high fence is recommended where children play outside.


Once you know how high your pet can jump, you can establish the height you require. Do not opt for fencing with any kind of pointed ornamentation on top.


In some provinces, such as Quebec, you must by law install pool fencing. Check with your municipality for the required height and other specifications.


In regions where heavy winds are common, a fence may provide protection. Choose a fence with a solid foundation (with sonotubes) and install posts closer together.

Pollution Barrier

A fence is useful where there is an excess of noise, dust and fumes from busy thoroughfares. Choose a high opaque fence model, ideally double-sided.

Determine Municipal Bylaws/Regulations

Be aware of bylaws and regulations governing minimum and maximum height, the distance between fences and residential buildings, and the types of fence models and materials that are allowed. Find out if you'll need to apply for a permit.

Mark the Location

Check if there is any possibility of sharing the cost with a neighbor. If not, be sure you install the fence on your side of the property line.
Locate and measure the property line. Use stakes and string to mark the location of the proposed fence on the ground and determine the total length.

Note: On sloped ground, the fence should be installed in stages; you must therefore measure horizontally to obtain the exact length. Allow for the location of doors and gates.


Choose the Style

 Fence panels are divided into two categories: standard panels are straight with or without the traditional trellis on top, and elaborate panels can be ornamented with arches and curved tops and have openings in the design that let the light through while preserving your privacy. Property fencing can be decorative; explore various visual effects such as a trellis, decorative board, or even boards installed horizontally or at an angle.

 Fence panels come in widths of 4', 6' and most commonly, 8'. The spacing between panels is determined by the type of terrain (flat or sloped) and typical weather conditions; place fence posts closer together in areas where strong winds are common. Standard height is 6'. However, a pool fence should not be as high
or opaque (you should be able to monitor children at all times) and a security fence can be as high as 8'.




  • Avoid solid panels more than 6' wide in areas where heavy winds are common, and make sure the panel model allows air to circulate.

  • For a property with a steep slope, opt for more narrow panels to minimize the empty space on the bottom of the fence.

  • If children will be playing outside, do not install fencing with spikes that could be harmful.

  • If possible, do not install a fence without a foundation (anchor pile or metal posts) in loose soil; the fence could soon become unstable.

  • Choose a fence chiefly for functional reasons rather than aesthetic ones.


Fencing Material

The materials most commonly used are wood, PVC and metal. There are specific features associated with each fencing option.



Other Materials


Fence Installation

Before You Start

Calculate the materials you will need for one section of the fence, then multiply that figure by the number of sections you need to install the entire fence. For each panel or section, you'll need one support post, 4 hangers per panel, plus hardware.

There are five different ways to put up a fence: posts sunk directly into the ground or into sonotubes, posts inserted into concrete footings, metal stakes driven into the ground, or posts secured to anchor piles. The method you choose should depend on climate conditions (i.e. frequency of strong winds) and the evenness of the ground where you plan to locate the fence.

Fence with Posts Sunk Directly into the Ground:

This is the most common method. It is fairly simple and the time required is average. However, it should be used on even terrain where it will be more or less sheltered from extreme weather conditions. Suitable for wood or metal fence posts.

Fence with Posts Inserted into Tubes:

This method is the most time-intensive, and also the sturdiest. The fence can be secured solidly to the ground. It can be installed on uneven terrain and can withstand heavy winds. Suitable for wood and metal posts.

Fence with Posts Set in Concrete Footings:

The installation of posts into footings set in concrete provides a solid result and makes it possible to replace wood posts that have rotted over time. When the tube has been filled with concrete, the footings are inserted on the fresh concrete. Different models are available. This is a very stable and solid method, and suitable for uneven ground. Footings are ideal for wood or PVC posts measuring 4" x 4" or 6" x 6".

Fence with Metal Posts:

This is a less stable method, suitable in a dense urban environment where the ground is flat and sheltered from extreme weather conditions. Installation is quick and easy, since posts are inserted into the ground using a sledgehammer. The ground must be loose, not compact.

Fence with Anchor Piles:

This is a less stable method, suitable in a dense urban environment where the ground is flat and sheltered from extreme weather conditions. Installation is straightforward since the spikes are simply screwed into the ground with a screwdriver. The ground must be loose, not compact.


General Guidelines

For optimum stability, posts should be inserted to a depth of 4'. If you have chosen to sink the posts directly in the ground or in sonotubes, you will need to dig a hole 8" to 10" in diameter and 4' deep using a post-hole auger. Cover the bottom with a layer of gravel approximately 6" thick. Lower the tube or post (according to the method chosen), then backfill with stone dust or concrete.

Once the posts have been sunk, you can begin installing thefence panels (secured with post hangers for a wood fence) or vertical boards. For a chain link fence, you need to fasten the chain links to the posts with metal rods. For other types of fencing, please consult the step-by-step guide detailing installation techniques.


When you buy the components for your fence, be sure to include: hinges, footings or hangers, door, gate (if necessary) and caps to place on top of each post.