Fence Company Fayetteville NC

Fence Company Fayetteville NC

Calculating Materials for Fence Installation: A Comprehensive Guide

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Building a fence provides numerous benefits such as increased privacy, establishing safe zones for your pets, and boosting your property’s aesthetics. Nevertheless, it is essential to thoroughly understand the required materials before starting your fence enhancement project. Adequate planning is vital for effectively managing your budget, ensuring all critical elements are included in your plan, and avoiding unexpected issues. We provide an extensive guide to help you identify the necessary materials for your fencing project.

Step-by-Step Guide to Calculating Materials for Fence

calculating materials for fence

1. Measure Your Fencing Area

  • Precision is Key: Use a long, reliable tape measure to carefully determine the entire perimeter of the space you want to enclose. It’s best to have a helper to hold the other end of the tape measure for maximum accuracy.
  • Account for Gates: Decide where you want gates and factor their widths into your measurements. A standard single gate is usually 3-4 feet wide, while a double gate for vehicles might be 10-12 feet.
  • Uneven Terrain Considerations: If your property has slopes or hills, it’s best to divide the fence line into smaller sections and measure each section separately. You might need to adjust post heights or use a stepped fence design to follow the terrain’s contours.

2. Select Your Fence Type

Your choice of fence style will significantly impact the types of materials for fence and how they are spaced. Here’s a closer look at popular options:

  • Privacy Fences:
    • Designed for maximum seclusion, privacy fences typically use tightly spaced boards or panels.
    • Common materials include wood (cedar, redwood, treated pine), vinyl, or composite materials.
    • Consider the desired height when calculating materials, as taller fences require taller posts and potentially more rails for stability.
  • Picket Fences:
    • Offer a classic, charming look with spaced vertical pickets.
    • Pickets can be made of wood, vinyl, or even metal.
    • Spacing between pickets is a matter of personal preference. Tighter spacing offers more privacy, while wider spacing allows more airflow and light.
  • Chain-link Fences:
    • A cost-effective solution for security and defining boundaries.
    • The chain-link mesh is attached to metal posts spaced at regular intervals.
    • Consider the height and gauge (thickness) of the chain-link mesh for your desired level of security.
  • Rail Fences (Split-Rail or Post-and-Rail):
    • Provide a rustic aesthetic and are often used in rural settings or to define large properties.
    • Primarily consists of horizontal rails with minimal vertical support.
    • Wood is the traditional material, and the number of rails (usually 2-3) will impact your material calculations.

3. Identify the Key Components

While fence styles vary, most share these basic components:

  • Posts:
    • Provide the structural backbone for your fence.
    • Materials include wood (pressure-treated for ground contact), metal, or vinyl.
    • Standard spacing is 6-8 feet, but you might need closer spacing for heavier fences or in areas with high wind loads.
  • Rails:
    • The horizontal members that span between posts and provide support for fence boards or mesh.
    • Number of rails depends on fence height – typically 2 for shorter fences and 3 for taller privacy fences.
  • Fence Boards:
    • These are the vertical elements or the mesh material that create the main barrier of your fence.
    • Materials include a vast array of wood species, vinyl, composite, or chain-link mesh.
  • Hardware:
    • The essential connectors that hold your fence together.
    • Includes nails, screws, brackets, hinges, latches, post caps, and other specialized hardware depending on your fence type.

4. Do the Math: Material Calculations

Let’s break down how to calculate the quantities you’ll need:

  • Posts:
    • Divide your total fence length by your chosen post spacing.
    • Add one extra post to account for the endpoint.
  • Rails:
    • Multiply your total fence length by the number of rails you’ll use.
  • Fence Boards:
    • Calculate the square footage of your fence (length x height).
    • Divide this by the square footage covered by a single board or panel.
    • Always add at least 10% extra to account for waste from cuts and potential errors.

Example Calculation (Privacy Fence)

Let’s say you want a 100-foot privacy fence, 6 feet tall, with posts at 8-foot intervals:

  • Posts: 100 feet / 8 feet + 1 = 13 posts needed
  • Rails: 100 feet x 2 rails = 200 feet of rail material
  • Fence Boards: 100 feet x 6 feet = 600 sq. ft. (Add 10% for waste = 660 sq. ft needed)

Additional Considerations

  • Gates:
    • Remember to factor in the width of your gates. You’ll need additional posts, framing materials, and hardware specific to your gate design.
  • Corners:
    • Each corner requires at least one extra post for stability, and often more depending on the angle of your corner.
  • Local Building Codes:
    • Always check with your local building department or homeowners association (HOA). They may have regulations on fence heights, materials, or setback distances from property lines.
  • Price Comparisons:
    • Once you have your detailed materials list, source prices from several suppliers. Don’t always go for the cheapest option; consider quality, warranties, and customer service as well.

Tools to Help

  • Online Fence Calculators:
    • Numerous online fence calculators are available on the websites of reputable fence suppliers and home improvement stores. These tools streamline the calculations and often provide visual representations of your fence design.

Beyond the Basics

  • Post Depth & Setting:
    • A rule of thumb is to bury 1/3 to 1/2 of the post’s height in the ground.
    • Posts are typically set in concrete for maximum stability.
    • Check your local frost line if you live in an area with freezing temperatures. Posts need to be set below the frost line to prevent heaving.
  • Ground Conditions:
    • Sandy or loose soil might require deeper post holes or larger concrete footings to provide adequate support.
    • If you encounter large rocks or tree roots, you might need to adjust your fence line or use specialized digging tools.
  • Aesthetic Touches:
    • Consider adding decorative post caps, latticework, or other embellishments to personalize your fence. Just factor these elements into your material calculations.


Accurately calculating your materials for fence doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By following these steps, taking careful measurements, and utilizing available resources, you’ll be well-prepared to start building the perfect fence for your property. Remember, a little extra planning in the beginning will save you time, money, and potential headaches during your fence installation project.