8 min read

How to put up and take care of a panel fence

Posted in: Ideas and Advice
5 October 2022

When properly installed and well-maintained, a panel fence offers privacy and contributes comfort and style to your garden. With the correct preparation and equipment, erecting your own fence is possible. However, it may be easier with the help of a friend. This guide will explain how to build a fence and maintain it once complete.

How to Install a Fence

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  • Fence Panels
  • Fence Posts
  • Fence Clips
  • Cable Avoidance Tool
  • Postcrete
  • Hole Digger or Spade
  • Gloves
  • String Line and Marker Pegs or Line Marking Paint
  • Spirit Level

Preparing to Erect a Fence

Thorough planning saves you time, eliminates unnecessary wastage and prevents damage to your garden. Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools and materials you need to see the project through to completion.


You can install a fence at any time of the year, but wet, cold, or very hot weather can impact the finished product. We recommend installation in spring or late autumn.


If your fence backs onto a neighbour's garden, it's worth asking whether they're happy for you to access their garden. The process is much easier if you can work on your fence from both sides.


Before you dig, take a moment to check for underground pipes or cables underground using a detector. You can rent affordable Cable Avoidance Tools (or CAT). Once you’re sure there are no pipes or cables, remove any plants, stones or debris from the area.

Planning Permission

Unless your fence measures more than two metres high (one metre if it borders a road), planning permission is not usually required. However, local planning regulations vary, so it’s a good idea to clarify the rules with your Local Authority

Installing Your Fence Posts

How you install your fence posts determines a fence's strength and structural integrity, so it pays to get it right. Before you start digging, take a look at your posts. Most timber merchants treat fence posts before sale. However, treating any sawn ends with an all-purpose preservative is good practice. The same goes for your fence panels.

How Deep Should a Fence Post Be?

Fence post holes should be at least 600mm deep. You may need to go a little deeper if your fence is particularly high. A helpful rule is that the depth of the hole should be a third of the over-ground height of the fence. For instance, if your fence is 2100mm high, your hole should be 700mm deep. However, the 600mm minimum always applies.

How Tall Should a Fence Post Be?

Your fence posts should be roughly 600mm (2ft) taller than the total finished height of your fence. If digging a deeper post hole, you must account for that extra distance. Similarly, consider whether you require extra height to facilitate installation if you plan to fit a trellis to your fence. Once you know exactly how many posts and panels you need, as well as the dimensions they should be, place your order.

How to Dig a Fence Post Hole and Install Fence Posts

Installing timber fence posts is relatively simple but can be hard work. We recommend using a post-hole digger to ensure consistent holes and a superior finish. To install timber fence posts:

1. Decide where to install your first fence post

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2. Plot the location of your fence posts

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3. Dig your first fence post hole

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4. On the level

Use a spirit level to ensure each new post remains vertically level and in line with your string line or marker paint.

5. Keep digging

Dig your next post hole while the first post is curing. If you use Rapid Set Postcrete, this may only take 30 seconds. However, regular formulas take 4-5 minutes to set.

How to Put Up Fence Panels

Next, you will install your fence panels. To do so, follow the simple, three-step process detailed below.


  1.  Return to your first post and check the Postcrete is set and the post is secure. Attach your fence clips approximately 150mm from the top and bottom of your fence panel. If you're using a panel larger than 1.2 metres (4ft), add a third clip in the middle to help prevent the panel from bending.
  2. Attach your fence panel to the set post using the clips. Place your second fence post into its hole. Then attach your fence clips and screw the panel into place before securing the post with Postcrete.
  3. Repeat the above steps until your panel fence is complete.

Maintaining Your Fence - Top 5 Tips

Maintenance can extend the lifespan of your fence and protect it from signs of ageing, avoidable wear and tear and structural weakness. Here are our top five tips for maintaining your fence.

  1.  Use treatments and stains in dry but mild conditions. If rain is forecast or temperatures are particularly high, wait to paint your fence.
  2. Prepare your fence before staining. Remove mould and mildew, as well as all surface dirt.
  3. Check your panels and posts regularly and tighten loose screws as needed.
  4. Don’t forget preservatives. Not only do wood preservers add a coat of colour, but many also guard against UV damage, mould and rot
  5. Establish a regular maintenance routine to prevent irreparable damage or decay. A properly cared-for fence can last 20 years or more.

It’s good practice to check your fence for damage after severe winds. Refasten and tighten loose boards with weather-resistant screws and countersink any protruding nails. If parts of the fence are damaged beyond repair, replace them before they affect other panels

Finally, minor aesthetic damage, such as splits or small cracks, is expected. Gaps like these do not necessarily need filling as fence panels expand and contract with the weather, causing timber posts to bend if too rigid with filler.

Staining and Treating Your Fence

One way, possibly not the most attractive, would be to use some rubber matting as a quick and easy way to make decking non-slip. Although a temporary solution, they will get you safely through the winter months. Simply lay yourself a narrow walkway using the mats, which are designed to withstand all weather conditions, and then store them away for next year once the weather dries up again in the spring.

How to Treat Fence Panels and Posts

If you want to protect your handiwork, take a look at the following instructions for a detailed explanation of how to treat fence posts and panels.

Preparing to stain your fence

Before applying wood stains or treatments, ensure that your fence is clean and dry. If it rained recently, make sure the wood has dried completely. Take care to remove any green or black mould as this will prevent stains from adhering evenly

Cleaning your fence

If your fence is sturdy enough, you can wash it with a pressure washer. Otherwise, a stiff brush, water and dish soap will do. If you decide to use a pressure washer, be sure that your chosen model isn’t too aggressive – 1,500 or 2,000psi is more appropriate than 3,000 or 3,500psi.

Getting ready for work

Check the weather forecast before painting. Plan any outdoor painting for a dry, warm (but not too hot) day, as cold weather or too much sun will hinder the drying process and ruin your hard work.

Tools for treating your fence

You can apply stains with a brush, roller or power sprayer. Consider which option is most appropriate for your fence size and physical ability. Sprays can be messy, so be careful about plants, other structures and your neighbour's property

Fence painting tips

Always paint in the same direction as the timber’s grain. This ensures an even finish. Start at the top and work your way down to minimise drips and runs.

Research your wood stains and paints

An enormous range of wood stains and paints are available. Always ensure the paint or stain you choose is suitable for your fence, and check the tin and manufacturer's instructions before purchasing. Every product has slightly different coverage, so measure your fence before purchasing to guarantee you have enough.

For more information on fencing materials and techniques, our fencing page is the place to go. Our page dedicated to our top fencing advice is also full of helpful information. Finally, check out our fence panels, fence posts, fencing accessories and slats and rails to find everything you need to put up and take care of your fence.

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