How to build a slatted fence – Expert Tips and Advice

This guide is designed to help you construct a modern slatted fence, a style that has gained popularity for its quick installation, appealing look, and diverse finish options. Having built numerous slatted fences for our clients, we’ve streamlined the process to achieve excellent results efficiently.

We will share our tried-and-tested methods and trade secrets, accompanied by diagrams to ensure you can easily follow along.

Slatted fences generally fall into two categories. The first is slatted panel fencing, which fits into concrete posts in the same manner as standard panel fencing. This type is particularly convenient for those looking for a straightforward, stylish solution.

For comprehensive assistance and professional fencing services, we encourage you to explore our fence installation services in Preston. Here, you’ll find expert advice and support to ensure your slatted fence not only meets but exceeds your expectations.

Custom made slatted fence panels

The second is to build fixed slatted fencing which is the subject of this article. 

Slatted fencing

Wood or composite slatted fence?

Slatted fencing can be constructed out of either wood or composite materials, composite materials are in fashion at the moment but are prohibitively expensive so for this example we will use wood. 

Wood is the easiest material to build from but slatted wooden fences need staining or painting every few years with good quality fence stain.

Slatted fence materials

Wooden Slats (Boards): Typically 1×3 or 1×4 boards for horizontal slats.

Fence Posts: 4×4 treated lumber posts for support.

Post mix: For setting the fence posts.

Screws or Nails:Galvanized screws or nails to attach the slats to the posts.

Stain or Paint:For finishing and protecting the wood.

Slatted fence tools

Tape Measure:

Level:To ensure posts and slats are level.

Post Hole Digger or Auger:For digging holes for the fence posts.

Hammer or Screwdriver:Depending on whether you’re using nails or screws.

Saw:To cut the wooden slats to size.

Drill:For drilling pilot holes for screws.

Paintbrush or Roller:For applying stain or paint.

String Line:To ensure the fence is straight.

Shovel:For mixing and placing concrete.

Clamps: To hold the slats in place while fastening.

Building your slatted fence

Here is our fictional house where we will build a slatted fence step by step. 

Basic garden model where we will build a slatted fence through the rest of this article

1.Prepare the area

Mark out the area where the fence will be, you will want to clear and level the ground so that the fence will fit and won’t be touching the ground anywhere. If a fence touches the ground it will absorb moisture which will reduce its lifespan. 

2.Dig post holes 

The standard height for a garden fence is 1.8 m or 6ft. For fences of this height the post should be a maximum of 1.8 m apart. However it is best to evenly space the posts to get the best effect.

Spacing used for slatted fence posts

Here you can see that the holes will be evenly spaced but that the spacing is different at the end of the garden. This is so that the best effect is achieved with the smallest number of posts. 

Use a strong spade to dig out a hole which is about the width of the Spade on every side. the whole should be 60 cm deep to accommodate the 8-ft posts with 6 feet of them above the ground.  

Diagram of a hole used to set a fence post

Make sure the hole isn’t too wide otherwise the post mix won’t go far enough,post mix is really there just to make the post tight with the ground around it. Using more postmix won’t necessarily make it any more stable unless it is loose ground. 

3.Set the posts

Move your posts into the holes then set the first post. The first post should be one of the corner posts because you will need to set up a string line between that post and the far corner on any side. 

Using a tape measure and a spirit level ensure that these end posts are exactly the correct height.

To set the posts, get them in a fairly straight position then pour in one bag of post mix. Pour in enough water to ensure the post mix is wet and sloppy. then use a stick or something to hand to shuffle it around and ensure it is spread evenly around the post.

Diagram of fence posts set in post mix

At this point you will want to carry out any adjustment using a spirit level and the tape measure to make sure it is at the right level and is completely straight before setting. 

Two fence posts ready to have a string line set up

When the end posts are both set, fix a string line which will Mark out the exact level for the remaining posts to reach. it’s important that the string line is in exactly the same position on the top of every post including the end posts.

A string line used to get the correct level of each post used in building a slatted fence

Using the string line and a spirit level line up and straighten all the remaining posts between the two endpoints.

Repeat this process for each remaining side

4.Attach the timber

There are many many types of timber cladding available how to build the front of the fence. when buying the timber here are a few things to consider.

  • The lifespan (hardwoods are generally much better)
  • Untreated or treated
  • Thickness 
  • Broadness 
  • Tolerance to screws 

An important point here is buying the correct length of planks. If you have mainly 1.8 m gaps then you will want to get either 1.8 metre planks or 3.6 m planks. Anything longer or shorter and you will end up with wastage because you want planks to to begin and end on a post. 

make sure you know exactly how many planks it will be between the top and the bottom of the fence and exactly how big the gap will need to be for this to work.

it’s a good idea to plan all this out beforehand so you have the right amount of timber. 

Grab someone to help with this part 

Start with the top slat at one end of the fence. Set this slat perfectly and double check it with a spirit level to make sure.

Attaching slats to posts to build a slatted fence

To get the correct gap between each slat cut two bits of wood which are the exact size of the gap. this will speed things up hugely as you won’t have to measure every time. It also allows you to press a plank up then brace it to screw it in.

spacing blocks for getting the correct gaps in slatted fencing

Depending on how wide your slats are, use 2 evenly spaced screws to fix the end into the post.

If you are using 3.6 m lengths which cover two posts you will still need to screw in the the centre of the slat to the Central post

Continue this all the way round and there you have it, a complete slatted fence which will look great for years to come.

A 3D model of a one sided slatted fence

Bonus for double sided designs

A single sided slatted fence is great for security but not so much for privacy because of the gaps. A solution to this is to build a double-sided slatted fence. 

There are a couple of ways to turn a single sided slatted fence into a double-sided slatted fence but this one is our favourite because of its thin profile and overall look.

To do this you will need to buy some additional timber. We recommend 40 mm by 40 mm. This allows enough support whilst also being discreet.

First, cut a length which will be attached to the side of each post. it’s recommended to cut this slightly shorter so it’s not touching either the top or the bottom of the post. 10 to 20 cm shorter should do fine.

With the piece of wood uptight against the back of the current slats and attach it to the post with 60mm screws. We recommend only using two or three screw so you don’t end up clashing with the screws you will need for the next slats.

Attaching brackets to a single sided slatted fence before attaching the rear slats

Next you will need to cut your rear timber slats to the exact length of the gaps between the posts. 

Start with the very top slat which should be evenly fill the gap between the top 2 slats on the front of the fence. 

From there use the same gap to attach the remaining rear slats until all the gaps are covered 

Attaching the rear slats to build a double sided slatted fence.

If you are going to install your fence in winter there are a few extra things you need to think about. Take a look at our useful article which runs through all the additional considerations for installing fences in winter.