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Install an Aluminum Fence

A wrought-iron fence gives your backyard or garden a clean, tailored look, but it requires regular maintenance to keep it safe from the elements. For a similar style with less worry, try aluminum fencing. It's easy to install, and it's an affordable way to make your landscaping look like a million dollars.

Install aluminum fence

Tools & Materials

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Preliminary Steps

Before proceeding with any fencing project, a few preliminary steps are in order. Some are simply good ideas, some are necessary:

  • Discuss your plans with any neighbors whose property lies along your proposed fence line. They may even split the cost with you.
  • Make sure your fence will be on your property.
  • Check for easements in your deed. An easement is a right-of-way granted to another property owner or utility company, which may limit the design and location of your fence.
  • Check local zoning laws, which may regulate the size and placement of your fence. Check with your neighborhood association before proceeding with your plans.
  • Apply for the proper building permit as directed by local code.
Good to Know

Before beginning any excavation, call 811 to check for underground utilities.

Fence Materials

Fence Materials

Aluminum fencing comes in panels and posts of varying heights. You can choose a short fence for purely ornamental uses or install a taller fence to keep people and animals in or out.

Several styles of panels are available, including flat-topped or spiked-top with various decorative details. Post caps come in different shapes depending on the style of the fence.

Posts are predrilled for placement on a corner, on the end or in the line of the fence.

  • End posts have holes on only one side and are used as starting and stopping points.
  • Corner posts have holes on adjacent sides and are used to make right angles.
  • Line posts have holes on opposite sides and are used for straight runs of fence.

Gates attach to posts that are similar to end posts, but are stronger in order to support the weight and movement of the gate. Don't use a regular end post to install a gate.

Order your gates when you order your fence materials. Be sure to buy the appropriate gate hardware.

Fence Layout

Take time to lay out the fence carefully. An incorrect measurement could result in problems. Aluminum fencing works fine with gentle dips in the land, but if you're dealing with extreme slopes, you may need to choose another fencing type.

To plan your fence:

  1. Stake out your fence line from beginning to end, including corners and gates.
  2. Tie a string tautly between corner post locations to define the line along which the line posts will be placed.
  3. Using the measurements provided by the fence manufacturer, stake out the line post locations. Ensure that the stakes are touching the layout string so the posts will be in line.
  4. Remember to take any gates or openings into account at this stage.

Accounting for Slope

Accounting for Slope

When dealing with slopes, you have two options:

If the slope is less than 12 inches over a 6-foot run of fence, the panel can be raked or slanted. This will maintain a uniform space under the fence, which is particularly important if you're trying to keep a dog inside the fence. When raking panels, no special posts are required.

If the slope is greater than 12 inches over a 6-foot run of fence, the fence panels should be stair-stepped to accommodate the landscape. When stair-stepping panels, use end posts instead of line posts. The predrilled holes in the posts will work for one side of the connection, and you can make holes in the appropriate places to receive the rails of the stair-stepped panel.

Digging Post Holes

The most important part of a fence is underground: the posts. Using a post hole digger or power auger, dig the holes in the depth and diameter recommended by the fence manufacturer. Backfill each hole with about 6 inches of gravel to drain water away from the bottom of the post.

Remember to dig the hole in a bell shape, with the bottom wider than the top, to stabilize the post.

Good to Know

Lay out the fence as a dry fit before digging holes for the line posts. This can prevent the need for major adjustments later.

Installing the Fence

An aluminum fence is installed by setting the posts and fastening the fence panels between them. The exact instructions for doing this will vary depending on what brand of fence system you buy.

Pay close attention to recommended measurements for the distance between posts and for the depth of post holes.