I found it ironic that as I went to type in the 4 for this post’s title, I inadvertently hit the shift key, and the $ appeared.
Black, white, green and brown 4-board fencing are what many people think of when they think of Central Kentucky. It’s beautiful in the way that it follows the contours of the hills and fields and makes everything look complete and polished.
If you are a DIYer and want to have some fabulous, 4-board fencing on your place, here is what I’ve learned over the years.
- It’s beautiful but really, really expensive. In Central Kentucky it’s about $100/16′ to have it professionally installed. To do a DIY install would run about $30-50/16′ without paint.
- It’s expensive not only to install, but to maintain. On average I spend about $1,500/year replacing boards and painting on my 2 miles of 4-board. The boards are replaced throughout the year and then a big overhaul is done every 3 years. This year is an overhaul year, and I’ve spent $2,800 (420 boards, nails, etc.), and I haven’t painted the fences yet. That will have to wait until the spring when the boards have dried out a bit.
- Tip: Don’t do what I did and overhaul in late summer. Overhaul in the spring, let the boards dry out all summer, and paint in early fall
- It needs to be walked regularly to make sure that nails aren’t working their way out and lying in wait to stab your horse.
- I don’t care what kind you get, oak or poplar, horses like to chew on them.
- It is easy to repair if a horse rubs on or kicks through a board.
- It allows wildlife to migrate through the property a bit easier than with wire or hot-wire fencing. This can be a positive or negative. For us it’s a positive as we have a large deer and turkey population on the farm and we enjoy watching them. Plus they give the dogs something to bark at.
- It is reported to be one of the safer containment options for horses which is why it’s so common in this area – high dollar horses and insurance demands the safest fencing available. I see pros and cons in all types of fencing. Do your research and decide what type of fencing suits your needs and is readily available in your area.
DIY Tools we’ve used over the years on our fencing projects.
Note: we are not professionals, so these tools are what we used based on what worked for us and what we could afford.
- Tool belt
- Carpenter’s square
- Measuring tape
- Generator – run the skilsaw. I have a cordless skilsaw but it doesn’t have the juice to run very long. Super handy on one or two board repairs though.
- Paslode cordless framing nailer – this thing is the bomb. No more compressors or dragging hoses all over the place.
- Paslode framing nails for the nailer
- Tamping bar or iron digger depending on what they are called in your area.
- String – used to not only vertically line up the posts, but it can also be used to mark the top board so your fence flows smoothly
- Homemade storyboard – easy measurement tool for the board placement.
- Wagon or flatbed trailer – I’ve used both and prefer the flatbed trailer. It’s easier to maneuver and sits lower to the ground. Be careful with now many boards you load. We generally load a bundle (105) at a time, but I would probably go with less on really hilly terrain. They weigh a lot and you will be surprised how much a loaded trailer will push your tractor or truck around on not much of an incline. Use your engine and not your brakes!
- Bobcat with a front-mounted fence pounder. We started out with an auger and filling in with Class I and tamping. That sucked. Too many posts later, we got smarter and rented the Bobcat. One person runs the Bobcat and pounder and the other sets the posts and lines them up and then watches and makes sure everything stays level. It’s slow work, but much better than the auger.
- Hire a contractor to drill holes where there is rock or that the Bobcat setup can’t handle. We used a guy that had a big rock auger hooked to a tractor. He would sit there all day drilling holes for $20/hour. I wish I could remember the brand auger he used. It worked really well.
- Drilled holes have to be backfilled manually. We used bags of Quikrete in these holes and tamped as it was poured.
DIY fencing is a learning process and not for everyone. It’s difficult to get it to look good, so do a lot of research about how to line things up, measure distances, etc. before tackling a DIY 4-board fencing job. You save @50% by DIY, but since the DIY cost is still really high, make sure your ducks are in a row so you don’t look down 300′ ($1000) of DIY fence and say “that looks terrible”.
Good luck. Send us pics or let us know about your 4-board fencing DIY project.