How to Build a Close Board Fence with Concrete Posts, Base Panels

Side view of concrete posts with 0.6m below ground and 1.8m above ground

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The close board fence is one of the most popular fences in the UK. It’s affordable and easy to build, but there are a few important steps that need to be taken in order for the project to go smoothly.

Close board fences can be built with either concrete or wooden fence posts but both require a different method.

We will go over an overview of how you can build a close board fence with concrete posts and base panels. We will also discuss what materials are needed and offer some tips on how you can save money while building your fence!

In the example we will be building a 6ft fence but this method will work for fences as small as 4ft and as tall as 8ft.

Ideally concrete posts and base panels should be installed by two people to avoid injury.

Rear view of close board fence panels

Materials

  1. 2.4m concrete fence posts
  2. 6ft x 1ft concrete base panels
  3. 5ft x 6ft close board fence panels
  4. Post mix (1 x 20kg bag per post)

Equipment

  1. Trenching spade
  2. Post holes diggers
  3. Spirit level
  4. Angle grinder
  5. Hand saw
  6. Wheel barrow
  7. Tape measure
  8. String line
  9. Marker spray

1.Measure out and clear the area

Measure out and clear the area where you will be working. Make sure that there are no existing obstacles such as trees, pipes or wires which can impede your work flow and any future construction on the property.

Mark the centre of the first post hole then mark the others at 1.86m intervals.

2.Dig the holes

Side view of concrete posts with 0.6m below ground and 1.8m above ground

Post holes should be 0.6m deep and 0.3m wide, its ok if they are wider than this but make sure not to go overboard as you will need to use more post mix.

Some holes may not need to be quite this deep if the posts are a little shorter than 2.4m. Make sure that 1.8m of post is going to be above the ground.

Fence post holes can be a little deeper than needed and can simply be infilled with soil, gravel or rocks to bring the bottom of the post up to the correct height.

Holes are best dug with 2 people, one using a trenching spade to loosen the earth and the other using post holes spades to remove the earth into your wheelbarrow.

3.Insert the first post

Measuring out post holes for close board fence with concrete posts

This is where the process differs from installing a wooden fence. With a full wooden fence you would install all the posts first then attach the slats after.

With a concrete fence its best practice to install the first post then fit both the base panel and fence panel in at the same time as the second post so they don’t need to be lifted overhead.

Concrete post installation

  1. Place the first post into the hole and measure from ground level to the top of the post.
  2. Add or remove filler at the bottom of the post hole until the top of the post is 1.8m above ground. This can be a 2 man job.
  3. When at the correct elevation stand the post upright and pour in a bag of post mix. Pour in water until the post mix is saturated.
  4. Poke the post mix with a stick to make sure it completely surrounds the post.
  5. Using a spirit level, line the post up so it is in the correct line and stood up completely straight.
  6. Hold in position or prop up the post for few minutes until the post mix has started to set.

1 bag of post mix per post hole

4.Add the first panel and base panel

Adding the first base and fence panel

Taking care not to knock the installed post, place the first concrete base panel and first fence panel.

When they are lined up, place the next post into the 2nd post hole and repeat the process of aligning the post on all 3 axis using both a tape measure and a measuring tape.

It can be hard to stay in the correct line and get the correct height at the top of the posts, especially if the ground in uneven.

To ensure that all posts are the correct height you can set up a string line to mark the same position on all the posts. This will help you get the line and the height correct on all the posts.

Don’t let the posts touch the string line or it will move slightly at each post. Have the top edge 1mm away from the string line to that alignment and height are consistent across all the posts.

5.Install the next post and repeat the process

Fully installed close board fence with concrete fence posts

The next part of the process simply involves repeating the process again and again until the fence is completed.

Post mix sets to a reasonable level in around 30 minutes so its likely that the first posts will be set before the fence is completed.

Frequently asked questions

What if I need to cut a panel?

Its common that your fence will not be the exact length of a set number of fence panels so you will probably need to cut a panel and a base panel.

Cutting a wooden fence panel

Wooden fence panels can be cut with a handsaw. Measure the gap it needs to fill then mark this out on the fence panel.

Carefully cut down this line. It doesn’t matter if the cut is a bit rough because it will be hidden by the lip on the concrete posts.

How to install a gate on a concrete post

It is not recommended to install a garden gate directly onto a concrete fence post. This can be done but it requires some skill and will usually weaken the concrete post. We recommend using a wooden gate post and following the method shown in our article on installing a close board garden gate.

Cutting a concrete base panel

When cutting a concrete base panel you will need either a stone cutting saw or an angle grinder. If this is the only time you will ever need to do this then we recommend a cheap angle grinder and a masonry blade which should cut through it.

Most concrete base panels are reinforced so make sure to be cautious and wear protective equipment.

What if the post holes are in the wrong place?

The size of concrete posts and wooden fence panels can vary so you may find that his slight variation has thrown off your measurements and your holes are in the wrong place.

You have two choices:

  1. Fill them in and re-dig them. If they are way off then this will be best
  2. Extend them and use more post mix. This is best if they are only slightly off

If you choose to fill in part of the hole with soil it needs to be compacted well to create a firm hold for the post.

How to install corner posts?

Corner posts can be installed in the same way as normal posts but the angles need to be checked twice as they need to alight on two sperate axis.

Installing posts very close to a house or wall?

Digging post holes can be difficult or impossible when they are very close to a house or wall. The best that can be done here is to get as close as you can (safely) and then place the post.

If the post has a rigid structure supporting one side then you can press it up against this side and pour the post mix on the opposite side. This should provide adequate support for the fence post.

Digging shallow post holes

Sometimes it may not be possible to dig the hole to the recommended 600mm depth. Fences can still be installed with shallower holes but this is not without its issues.

Firstly you will need to cut the reinforced concrete post down to the desired size which will need an angle grinder and can be fairly dangerous if you are not experienced.

Secondly, the less depth the post has the easier it will be to move and the less stable it will be. a 300mm hole will likely support the fence but strong winds, impact or someone climbing on it could result in the posts moving.

Shallow posts are also more likely to more over time as the surface soil slowly moves.

How to order materials

The best way to do this is to find a reputable building supplier and order all the fencing materials together for delivery. They will usually charge £15 – £30 for delivery and can use grab wagons to place it wherever you need.

Fence stain

If you are going for a wooden fence then you need to make sure its looked after. New fence panels will come treated or pressure treated but after 6 months or so i can be a good idea to stain or paint your fence to keep it in great conditions.

Installing your fence in winter

Winter can be a great time to install a fence with reduced labour and materials costs however there are few extra considerations such as hard ground and pouring concrete in freezing conditions. Take a look at this helpful article For more information on installing fences in winter.

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