A solid steel fence can increase security for your family, pets and property, while screening your backyard from the neighbours.
This home had an old steel fence with rotting timber rails. To improve privacy and complement the newly revamped pool area, it was replaced with a higher all-steel fence.
First, the old fence was removed and the boundary line identified, then to prepare the site, any debris or vegetation that could interfere with construction was cleared away.
Order the materials
To calculate the materials needed, divide the total fence length by the rail length and factor in the posts.
For this project, the Fielders Panel Fencing System was used, including 2670mm posts, 2370mm rails, and 1800mm Colorbond steel panels in Grey Ridge.
Each fencing section requires two posts, three fence panels and two rails.
This 25m long boundary fence consisted of just over 10 sections, requiring 22 posts, 32 panels and 22 rails, costing $956 in total.
The posts are set in position with concrete. Buy 20kg bags of premixed concrete from your local hardware store for about $7 each, or make your own by mixing gravel, sand and cement in a 4:2:1 ratio.
Maintaining the metal
To keep your steel fence looking its best, all you have to do is hose it down occasionally when you’re watering the garden or lawn.
USE a soft broom to remove any cobwebs or loose dirt and pay extra attention to the area under the top rail, which is sheltered from being washed naturally by rain.
KEEP soil away from the base rails and fence posts to avoid water retention, which leads to corrosion.
Protect the fence from any overspray when using garden products such as weedkillers and fertilisers because these can damage the surface. If this happens, wash the fence down with water.
REPLACE damaged panels but don’t use touch-up paint on any minor scratches, as it will weather differently to the original painted surface.
Meeting the regulations
Before putting up a new fence, it’s necessary to talk to your neighbours. There are also council building regulations that need to be met.
So don’t install a fence without checking a few things first.
With neighbours, both parties are usually required to share the cost of a dividing fence that is considered sufficient. This means a standard or basic fence for the area.
If one party wants more, they may have to pay the additional costs over and above the shared cost of a sufficient fence.
Check with the local building authority or council whether there are any restrictions on the fence height or type of material used.
The council can also specify the boundary to kerb distance, so be careful on corner blocks, and make sure the fencing style meets any streetscape or heritage regulations.
TIP Before building, have a surveyor mark disputed or vague boundaries.
Choose the material
A fence is exposed to the elements, so it needs to be durable. Timber and brick are common alternatives to steel fencing.
Treated pine is the most popular for traditional lap-and-cap paling fences. It is important to select the right hazard treatment level with treated pine, selecting H3 for palings and capping, with H4 the correct choice for in-ground posts.
Treated pine is the most popular for traditional lap-and-cap paling fences
The toughest of the lot, brick offers the most in security and privacy. Double brick is more substantial than single-skin brickwork, but the material and construction costs can be high. Many are rendered and painted to match the property.
The toughest of the lot, brick offers the most in security and privacy
Sinking fence posts
Fencing has to withstand winds of considerable force at various times, so it’s important to build a strong and durable fence.
The way to do this is to have posts of a suitable length set in post holes of the correct depth.
Post lengths increase in proportion to the depth of the hole, which in turn is determined by the type of substrate on your site.
ROCK requires holes to be dug 350mm deep and one bag of concrete for each post.
CLAY SOIL needs a hole depth of 600mm and two bags of concrete.
SANDY SOIL requires 900mm holes and three bags of concrete.
Install the fence
Demolish the existing fence using a pry bar and hammer, wearing protective gear. Use a handsaw and secateurs to cut away any branches obstructing the line of the fence. TIP Recycle old steel fence panels.
Mark out the post hole positions along the fence line with line marking spray paint, or use small pegs. Position a fence rail on the ground to mark the post hole centres, or measure 2370mm between the centres.
Excavate the holes for the first and last end posts, concreting the posts in position. Secure a stringline to one end post, then stretch until taut and secure to the other end post to establish a straight line for the fence.
Dig a 150mm diameter post hole to the required depth at each marked hole centre. Hold the stringline aside and use a post hole clamshell digger to remove the soil waste. Use a spud bar if the digging is tough.
Position two posts back to back and secure using an impact driver and self-drilling 16mm x 14g Tek screws. Drive two side by side 60mm from the top, then offset the screws down the posts, spaced up to 300mm apart.
Set taut stringlines for the top and base rails, then position two posts in adjacent holes, adjusting the height to the top stringline. Secure a base rail set to the base stringline using screws and use a spirit level to adjust the rail.
Mix the concrete and fill the post holes, keeping it 50mm from the base rail and sloping the top for runoff. Use a spirit level to keep the posts plumb. Position the top rails, then let the concrete set overnight.
Remove the top rails, one section at a time. Slot three panels into each base rail, overlapping the edges. Cut the panels to fit, as needed, with a nibbler, then check the overlap is flush and the end panels sit in the U-shaped posts.
Position the top rail in one post and slowly work your way across the section, slotting in the panels. Adjust the top rail so it sits 2mm above the posts, then secure with self-drilling 16mm x 14g Tek screws on both sides.