How to Install a Fence – Cost and Equipment

Let’s look back to early 2010: TheJessle and Chonathan were hopelessly feeling out the real estate market. We pined for a place that was had both easy access to the city and a large enough back yard to fence in and have enough space for all sorts of outdoor mayhem. But our vision of a gleaming estate with a beautifully manicured, fenced in garden never came to pass. Instead, we ended up finding the project house you’ve been reading about for months: The PlasterQuest ranch home. A great little foreclosure with tons of little problems – among many of which was an overgrown, entirely neglected 9,000 square feet of available lawn space. But we of PlasterQuest nation do not feign to concur such hurdles. We tackle the challenge, and document it here in sobering detail in an effort to educate those who are looking to follow in our footsteps. In this way we are trailblazers of the next home-owning generation and today, we are going to tell you all about fences.

Depending on your skill, the terrain and, the type of fence you choose to separate your small piece of the world from your neighbors it can take anywhere from an afternoon to about a month. Our project took a little over two months from start to finish – mainly due to a “weekend only” time constraint and the work pass we set for ourselves. It should also be noted that if it weren’t for the kind help of a neighbor (a wonderful guy who just-so-happens to be a professional fence installer by trade), and a one day time donation from a few friends, that this job could have easily swung into the three month time frame.

The first step in the project was actually picking up the phone and getting quotes from some professional fence installers. While it might be unnecessary it gave us a clearer picture of what problems we might have, the exact materials we would need, and the most sobering: their cost. If you decide to do this make sure you ask them for two things, 1. a materials break down and 2. their materials vs. labor cost. If your guys are anything like the ones we called than the labor will be equal to the cost of the materials.

Once we decided that hiring someone for $8k was an irrational waste of money, that we were competent and had taken on riskier projects before this one we started looking at materials. You have three basic choices when looking for a fence:

  1. Wood – cedar, pine and spruce being the most popular options.  Cedar is going to be the most lasting option, but is also the most expensive in many cases.  Wood fence is also easier then vinyl to install in our humble opinion.
  2. Vinyl – high or low grade… and sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference!
  3. Metal – can be as quick and cheap as chicken wire fence or as high brow and labor intensive as mortar set aluminum…

For a quick pro vs. con you might want to check out this article on LandscapeOnline.  One thing they don’t mention is that the cost of either the wood or vinyl fencing is roughly equivalent if you’re shopping the big box home improvement stores.

We ended up doing a combination fence.  A 90 ft length of metal mesh fencing along the back of the yard so that we’d still be able to see the trees and a pretty awesome stone wall that line the back of our property, and roughly 185 ft of sealed and treated “cedar tone” spruce fencing for the front and sides.  $2k at Home Depot yielded nearly everything we needed for the project:

  • 23 dogeared fence panels
  • 24 4x4x8
  • 1 large box of galvanized screws
  • 11 t-posts
  • 2 rolls of 50ft wire mesh
  • 2 bags of t-post clips
  • 25 bags of Quickcrete
  • Gate hardware including 6 hinges, 3 door pulls and 2 clasps
  • 1 wheelbarrow
  • 1 garden hoe
  • Wooden spikes for marking post locations
  • String
  • Really Long Measuring Tape

Tools that we had on hand or were donated to us that might cause some bottom line alterations to happen in your arithmetic (note that some of these were found buried in our yard):

  • Garden spade
  • Axe
  • Pry bar
  • Post hole digger
  • 8ft Level
  • Post level
  • Drill


  1. May 6, 2011

    I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.

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