How to Build a Feather Edge Fence

Feather edge or close board fencing is widely regarded as one of the sturdiest fence types available. The overlapping timber boards create a strong, stable structure that also provides a great deal of privacy thanks to its solid construction. Timber is a popular choice when it comes to fencing, as it will often blend in with existing garden furniture and also create a warmer look and feel than metal or concrete alternatives. In this guide, we’ll give step by step instructions on how to put up your own feather edge fencing.

What Will I Need?

Feather edge fencing components

Numbered items at the beginning of this list correspond with the image above

  1. Feather Edge Boards
  2. Fence Post 2.4m
  3. Gravel Board
  4. Arris, Cant or Fence Rail
  5. Fence Post Cap
  6. Fence Cap or a Rebated Fence Cap

Additional items you will need are listed below;

Measuring Up

Working out how much you need for your job or project is arguably the most important place to start. This will allow you to purchase everything you need in one go and will also help you cost the work for your customer. Ideally, the feather edge boards will have a 25mm overlap, meaning each board covers 100mm. This works out to 18 boards per 1.8m (6’) run, so to work out how many boards you require, simply measure the total distance you need to cover and divide by 6 if working in feet or 1.8 if working in metres.

Gravel boards are available in 1.8m lengths so can be ordered as one per run of 1.8m (6’) and you will need a fence post for every 1.8m (6’) run as well as one additional post for the end. For the fence, arris or cant rail, multiply your total length by 3 as you’ll need a rail at the bottom, a rail through the middle and a rail at the top of each run of fencing. This will give you the total amount you need and dividing by 6 or 1.8 if you’re working in metres will give you the total number of lengths required. 

Step 1 – Posts

Getting your posts securely in place is the first step to ensuring your fence is as strong as possible. It is recommended that you dig a hole around 2’ or around 600mm deep to provide a sturdy base for your fence post. We would recommend making the diameter of the hole three times the width of the post. For the ones we have suggested that are 100mm x 100mm, a 300mm hole will be sufficient.

For each post, a full bag of Postcrete will be needed. Holding the fence post erect in the hole, use a spirit level to check that it is in the correct position and when you are ready, pour the Postcrete in. No mixing is needed so water can just be added on top whilst you wait for it to set. This only takes 10 minutes, and you can keep one hand free for a cuppa whilst you’re holding the post in place. 

Step 2 – Arris, Cant or Fence Rails

Once your posts are in place and have set fully, the next step is to add your arris, cant or fence rails. These are fixed 150mm from the ground, 150mm from the top of the fence posts and the third goes between the two; so on a 1.8m fence will sit around 900mm high. The rails need to sit inside the fence posts, flush to the front of the fence so that the feather edge boards can rest against them for stability and support.
Before you fix your rails in place, make sure you:

  • Seal any rough sawn edges against rot and fungal attack. This can be done with Ensele.
  • Check the rails are evenly spaced between all of your posts. We recommend trimming some waste timber to use as a spacer to ensure consistency.
  • Make sure everything is level using a spirit or bubble level.
When you’re sure you have them in the right place, the rails can be fixed between your fence posts. Using a long timber screw suitable for external use, like a decking or landscaping screw, is important as it will allow you to ensure the rails are securely fixed in place by screwing in diagonally.

Step 3 – Fence Boards

Fixing from the bottom up to ensure your feather edge boards are straight, the boards need to sit in line with the lowest fencing rail. The first board can be attached to the first fence post post, working away from the thick edge of the boards around. The first feather edge board can be fixed in place with galvanised lost head nails, hammering carefully into the fence rails behind. After this, each board should be fixed to both the board before it in the run and the rails behind. The boards should have an overlap of approximately 25mm to make the fence as strong and durable as possible.

Using an upright spirit level every 4 to 5 boards will allow you to check that the fencing is still in line. We would recommend cutting a piece of waste timber to size to use as a guide for the spacing of the boards. This will allow you to quickly and easily check that they are level as you go.

Step 4 – Gravel Board

When all the feather edge boards are in place, the gravel board can be fixed beneath these. It is advisable to fix a small stump or batten at the middle point of the run between the lowest fence rail and the ground. This will improve the stability of the gravel board and provide an additional fixing point for it.
The gravel board should be fixed between the fence posts and can be screwed in place using landscaping or decking screws.

Important Points to Remember

  • Any timber that is cut will need to be treated with a grain sealant to ensure the sawn end is protected against rot and decay.
  • All fixings used will need to be galvanised for use outside to prevent rust.
  • Dry timber is preferable to work with – store your fencing supplies somewhere covered or indoors if possible and wait for days that aren’t rainy if you can!
  • This is a two person job!

All of our fence supplies are treated to ensure suitability for the outdoors, so whilst it isn’t necessary, if you would like to add a stain or coloured protective treatment, you can find the instructions on how to do so here.

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