I’ve already written an article titled ‘how to install fence panels and posts yourself‘ as they seem to be the most popular option but what about closeboard, also known as featheredge fencing? Ofcourse you have to build them from scratch but it really isn’t that hard and in fact, under the right circumstances they can be a dream to install compared to your standard fence panels and slotted posts.
If I’m being completely honest, up until a few months ago the only garden fences I would install were the standard fence panels. We never even thought to ask the customer if they would prefer the feather edged or closeboard fencing since the vast majority of gardens had this style fencing anyway and it always seemed the easiest and quickest way of providing a customer with a new garden fence. This was until we started sub contracting through a landscaping company that specialises in feather edge fencing on new build properties – Now it’s all we ever seem to put up!
What is a feather edged fence?
Unlike your typical garden fence panels that either slide in and out of concrete posts or screw between wooden posts, a featheredge garden fence or closeboard fence is in short, built as you erect and install your new garden fence.
There are a few different options to choose from. For example if you would like a long running fence without seeing any fence posts then V notched fence posts with non-ended arris rails that screw into the V cuts within the fence posts will make the posts invisible once the wooden slats are nailed on. Just be sure on whether you or your neighbour gets the good side, as the other side will have the posts on display, although still very presentable.
The slightly cheaper option would be to opt for the standard morticed fence posts which have 3 holes/notches within the posts allowing for ended arris rails to simply slot inside – This style of closeboard fencing will have the posts on display but again, still a very presentable fence.
If you want something more durable then you can opt for the concrete morticed fence posts. These concrete fence posts will allow the arris rails to simply slot into and between posts, although you will need to use concrete gravel boards as opposed to wooden ones. If you are wondering how you would install gravel boards onto flush concrete posts, well the morticed fence posts come with ready drilled holes which will allow you to easily insert a bracket and bolt the gravel boards into place, but we will get more into this below.
In short, a featheredged fence is a ‘build as you go’ garden fence which I find is actually much easier and faster to erect compared to your standard garden fence. Not only this, the arris rails come in standard lengths of 2.4m, 3m and 3.6m although other lengths are also available. This gives you alot more flexibility for those awkward fence lines with tree stumps, roots and other obstacles in the way as well as the fact that the arris rails are easy to cut down to the desired length of your choice! Featheredge fence bays are longer than your standard 6 feet fence panels, can be quicker to install due to the flexibility that comes with them and be just as durable and better at going round awkwardly shaped gardens!
Which materials will I need to put up my new closeboard fence?
The materials needed to install your new featheredge fence in your garden can vary depending on the style of fencing needed so I’ve tried my best to list them below with a brief description.
- Morticed timber posts (if you are happy about seeing the posts)
- Morticed concrete posts (if you are are looking for something longer lasting)
- V-notched timber posts (for those continuous fence lines without seeing the posts on one side atleast)
- Recessed concrete posts (for those longer lasting continuous fence lines)
- Concrete gravel boards (being sure to find the matching lengths to your chosen arris rails)
- Timber gravel boards (for your timber fence posts)
- Arris rails of your chosen length (these will be the frame to your new feather edge fence)
- Featheredge slats (a number of lengths are available, most commonly purchased as 1.65 and 1.8 meter lengths)
- Postcrete to fix your posts into the ground
- 2×1 inch timber for holding timber gravel boards in place)
- Metal gravel board brackets (for bolting the concrete gravel boards to the concrete posts)
- Don’t forget your nuts and bolts for the gravel board brackets aswell as the screws for joining cut arris rails to the posts etc..
Which tools will I need to erect my new feather edge fence?
Below I’ve listed the tools needed to install and erect your new featheredge fence in your garden, followed by images of the tools which if clicked on will direct you to the item on the Amazon store where you can receive your new tools from as early as the very next day! As an Amazon affiliate partner we receive a small commission when an item is purchased via a link on this website.
The tools needed to install your new cliseboard fence include;
- SDS drill – For fixing your posts to a brick wall
- Combi drill – For screwing cut arris rails into the fence posts etc
- Post hole diggers – For digging the holes for your fence posts
- Hand saw – For cutting down fence posts and arris rails
- Socket set – For tightening the bolts when fixing a fence post to a brick wall or the concrete gravel boards to a fence post
- Spirit level – No one wants a wonky fence!
- Tape measure
- Builder’s line – For getting your fence post nice and straight
Post hole diggers
Spirit level set
How to install a featheredged garden fence
Thankfully erecting a feather edge fence really isn’t as difficult as it may sound and any hands on person will be able to do it. Just follow the below steps and if I’ve missed anything then simply leave a comment below for a quick reply!
Step 1 – Assess the situation and make a plan
This may sound obvious, but making a plan with a list of exactly what will be needed for the installation of your new feather edge fence will save you alot of time and headaches along the way!
For example, is your neighbours garden at a different height to yours? If so then you may need to retain the earth from one side and concrete gravel boards will be needed.
Will your closeboard fence suddenly run up a steep hill? It will be hard to cut concrete gravel boards at such an angle and won’t look very good, so you may need to consider using wooden gravel boards.
How tall do you want your new featheredge fence to be? Most of the featheredged fencing I put up has a total height of 1800mm (6 feet) this means that I use 1650mm slats with 150mm gravel boards but 1800mm slats are also available for those higher fences.
Since the height of my garden fences are usually 6 feet, I use 8 feet fence posts, allowing 2 feet into the ground. If you are going for a taller fence then you may need longer fence posts to accommodate this.
Step 2 – Install your first morticed or v-notched fence post
If your first fence post is going against a brick wall then I would recommend fixing it to the wall as opposed to digging a fence post hole. This is because it will be more secure compared to using post mix since only 3 sides of the post can be cemented as well as it being easy to replace should you ever need to.
If your going for a standard height of 1.8 meters then all you need to do is cut your post down to size although I always dig a small hole so that I can bury the bottom of the fence post. For example, if I dig a small hole of 10cm then I will cut my fence post down to 1.9 meters – 10cm into the ground and 1.8m above ground.
If you are using wooden morticed or v-notched fence posts then it’s best to use a spade bit for your drill to make a hole of no more than 2cm, just deep enough to sink and hide your concrete bolt head which we will use in a moment. Most concrete bolt heads are 15-17mm in diameter so make sure you use a larger spade bit so that you have enough room to place your socket onto the bolt head and into the hole. In this case I would drill a hole no less than 25mm to be safe.
Now it’s time to check the thread size of your concrete bolt. If it’s got a 10mm thread width then I would drill a hole through the centre of the 2cm deep hole you have just made with an 8mm drill bit. This 8mm hole may be smaller than the 10mm thread on your concrete bolts but it will give the bolt something to sink it’s teeth into!
Once you have finished drilling your 2 holes then it’s time to place your fence post level against the wall – Have a friend help you if possible. Once level, simply use a masonry drill bit of the same size to drill through the top hole of the fence post and straight into the wall behind. Once done, simply insert the concrete bolt and tighten it up whilst applying pressure with your socket. The concrete bolt should bite its way through the post and into the wall.
At this stage, don’t tighten the bolt all the way as you may need to re-level the post before drilling the bottom hole into the brick wall behind. If it’s not level then simply move the bottom of the post until it is and tighten the top bolt all the way, keeping the fence post in place. Once done, it’s time to repeat the process for the bottom hole and bolt.
If you are using concrete posts then using a spade bit to hide the bolt heads won’t be possible but the other steps are all the same. Simply drill a hole a couple of sizes smaller than the concrete bolt thread size through the post and into the brick wall behind before securing the post into place with the concrete bolts.
If you don’t have a brick wall to fix your fence post to then all you need to do is use your post hole diggers to dig a hole approximately 2 feet deep (if using 2.4 meter length posts to build a featheredge fence at 1.8 meters high).
Once you have dug your post hole, have a friend hold it level whilst you use a tape measure to measure 1.8 meters from the ground up. If the post hole is too tall then you will need to dig your post hole deeper, but if the hole is already too deep then this isn’t a bad thing! Whilst the post is level, fill the hole with postcrete and once full, slowly raise the post until you reach the desired height. Pour lots of water and wait for it to set!
Step 3 – Install your fence posts and arris rails
The great thing about building your own closeboard or feather edge fence is that all you need to do to mark your next hole is use the arris rails. Simply insert the lower arris rail into the morticed post or beside the v-notched post and mark where it ends. This will be where the next fence post needs to be installed – so with your post hole diggers it’s time to start digging!
Once you are happy with the depth of the hole/height of the post whilst making sure that it is in line with the builders string then if your using morticed fence posts then it’s time to insert your arris rails. It’s always best to start from the bottom and work your way up.
Once all of the arris rails are installed, it’s time to re-level the posts, fill the hole with water, pour the postcrete and repeat the process for the next fence post.
If you are installing v-notched fence posts for your new feather edged fence then it’s best to fix the post into the ground and let it set for 10 minutes before screwing on your arris rails.
I usually install the v-notched fence posts a little closer than need be. This way all I need to do is hold the arris rail up against both posts and just make a pen mark where it reaches half way across the new fence post. Then I just take it down, cut it to size and screw it into place. It’s that easy!
Step 4 – Install your gravel boards
Please don’t be that person that nails on their featheredge slats before the gravel boards! Repeat after me – I must install my gravel boards first! The reason for this is because if you nail your slats on first then they will never be level! When you put your gravel boards on after, the slats won’t be flush against it! If you install your gravel boards first then you can use this to rest your featheredge slats on as you nail them onto the arris rails.
However! To do this right you are going to want to nail just 1 slat onto the inside of each fence post, making sure that the slats are level to the top of the post. Once on, the bottom of each slat will give you the level of where to fix your gravel board. Once the gravel board is in place, the rest of the slats will naturally follow suit when resting on the gravel board giving the perfect finish.
When installing concrete gravel boards for feather edged fencing be sure to get the ones made for the morticed posts, usually available in 150mm widths. These will have the ends cut allowing for a nut and bolt to go through, securing them to the concrete posts.
The concrete posts should come with pre-drilled holes which allows you to insert the bracket for the gravel board. Simply insert the bracket into the holes, lift the gravel board into place and tighten with a nut and bolt to fix the gravel board into place. You will need someone to help you hold the nut on the other side of the fence as you tighten the opposite side.
If you need to cut the gravel board to size then it’s best to use a 9″ grinder with a masonry cutting disc, although a 4.5″ grinder will suffice.
Installing wooden gravel boards are much easier and all you need to use to fix them to the post is some batton. A 2×1 piece if timber will be enough – Just cut into equal lengths of 150mm if this is the size gravel boards being used.
All of the timber gravel boards will need to be cut slightly to fit between the fence posts. The secret is to do this before screwing the pieces of timber into place. Let me explain in more detail…
Once your fence posts and arris rails are installed, and you have nailed one featheredge slat onto the inside of each fence post, simply screw the gravel board temporarily onto the outside of the fence post, making sure that the height of the gravel board is correct to the bottom of the 2 slats. Now all you need to do is go round to the other side of the fence and mark a line along the inside, where the gravel board meets the fence post. This way, whether your gravel board is going between level fence posts, or uphill, the cuts will be perfect. Once marked, simply unscrew the gravel board from the fence post, cut it to size, screw your pieces of batton to the fence post and nail your gravel board to the 150mm lengths of batton/timber.
Step 5 – Nail on your feather edge slats
Now it’s time for the nice easy bit! Now that your fence posts are concreted into the ground with your arris rails installed along with your gravel boards, all you need to do is nail the slats into place to finish off your new featheredged or closeboard fence.
I usually use 5 inch wide slats. With this in mind, I cut out a piece of timber with a width of 100mm and use it to mark lines of 100mm apart along the top arris rail.
Once the top rail is marked, I then use a long spirit level to mark the bottom arris rail (ignoring the middle rail). This way, you can use the lines when nailing on your new feather edge slats and you will have no choice but to have them perfectly level with an equal 20mm overlap between each slat. If I were using slats will a width of 6 inches then I would mark the lines at 120-130mm apart.
My thoughts on how to install a feather edged fence
My favourite thing about featheredged fencing is that unlike your standard fence panels, you can run a closeboard fence uphill with a steady and continuous climb instead of raising it in stages as well as the flexibility of easily shortening fence bays when avoiding obstacles.
It’s because of this flexibility that under the right conditions, despite having to install a feather edge or closeboard fence from scratch, you could actually save time compared to other garden fence options.
Considering there is more involved with the installation, my honest thoughts are that any hands on person can do it but you will need a friend to help give you a hand. It’s really not that difficult!
If however you do get started but are having difficulties then please do comment below and I’ll be more than happy to help! In the meantime I will continue to add more pictures to further help explain this complex article on how to install a feather edge garden fence yourself!