How to Build a Split Rail Fence with Wire

How to Build a Split Rail Fence with Wire

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There’s no denying that split rail fence with wire is a popular choice, particularly for residential properties in rural or semi-rural areas.

Let’s take a closer look at what split rail fence with wire is, how it’s built, and what you can expect from the installation process. We’ve also included a simple design sketch that you can download if you’re considering getting a split rail fence with wire built around your properties.

Pros and Cons of Split Rail Fences with wire

Split rail fences are a popular choice for residential and agricultural properties where a large amount of fence is required. It’s a cost-effective option, and reasonably easy to install. There are very few parts that are specific to split rail fencing, and most of the materials that are needed can be purchased from any hardware store or lumber yard.

However, while split rail fences are good at keeping large animals like horses and cows in a pasture, they’re no good for smaller animals, pets, or children.

The solution is to build a split rail fence with wire (or retrofit your existing split rail fence with wire. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of this type of fencing, starting with the pros:

  • Easy to install
  • A forgiving fence type that allows you to build according to what you have on hand
  • Cost-effective
  • Looks appropriately rustic for rural and semi-rurall properties
  • Can be installed by pounding posts or setting in concrete or gravel bases

Of course, there are also a few cons to split rail fences with wire, such as:

  • They’re usually not very high, so they don’t offer any security
  • Like most wood fences, they do need maintenance to keep looking good
  • If you have very agile animals or children, they will probably not be an effective barrier

This is a fence that is perfect for certain situations, and not suitable for others. There really isn’t a middle ground, so make sure you know what the goal of your fence project is!

How to Build a New Split Rail Fence with Wire

If you don’t have any fence, or your old fence is completely beyond saving, you’ll need to build a new split rail fence with wire. If you have an existing split rail fence that you want to retrofit, you can skip this and move on to that section!

1. Draw and Measure Your Fence

The best place to start any fence project is to make a sketch of your fence line and measure it. This will help you to calculate the fence materials for your split rail fence with wire and to identify any potential problems on the fence line where you might need to deviate or change the fence line.

In most cases, split rail fencing that is installed on a rural or semi-rural property will not be installed on a property line, but if yours will be, make sure you know where your property line is and stay within it!

2. Decide Your Split Rail Fence Specification

As we’ve already mentioned, split rail fence design is not written in stone, and there are many options.

The best advice is to contact a local split rail fence supplier or installer and ask them for design options.

You will usually have split rail fence posts at anything from about 8 to about 10 feet centers, and then three or four rails on the fence spaced somewhere around 12 inches apart. All of this could vary, though.

3. Do Your Split Rail Fence Take Off

The next thing you need to do to build a split rail fence is to do a take-off based on your measurements and specifications.

Mark each corner and end post on your fence sketch and add them all up. Then divide each fence line section by your post spacing and round the result down. So, if you have posts spaced at 10-foot centers and you have a fence line that is 50 feet long, you will need four posts on that line, and so on.

Add all your posts together.

Now, repeat the process by dividing fence lines by post spacing, but round up to the nearest zero. So, in this case, 50 feet would be five sections. Add all of these figures together, and then multiply by the number of rails you will have per section.

Once you have all the materials for your split rail fence calculated, you can order the materials and get them delivered. Don’t forget to buy farm gates if you need them!

4. Installing Split Rail Fencing

The last step in this part of the process of building a split rail fence with wire is to install the split rail fencing.

To do this, you need to set out your fence line by measuring and marking the post spacing on your fence line. Dig holes for fence posts in concrete or gravel or pound posts if you’re not using them. Install your rails as per your chosen specification, and finally, hang any gates you might have purchased.

Adding Wire to Split Rail Fencing

Now that you have a split rail fence – whether it’s a new one or an existing one – you can get to the part where you add wire to the fence. There are several steps in this process, but they are all fairly simple.

1. Choose Your Wire

The first thing you should do when you’re adding wire to a split rail fence is to choose the type of wire you want to use, and there are several options, including:

  • Welded wire mesh, which is available in various heights and with different aperture sizes – it’s fairly rigid, which makes it a little stronger and easier to install
  • Chicken wire – an affordable option, but made of thinner wire than other options, so not as secure
  • Farm fence – hinge joint or fixed knot – is available in various heights, is ‘self-straining’ and some have graduated apertures
  • Chain link mesh – the most expensive option, but it does look good when done correctly – more difficult to strain and install because it’s not rigid

If you’re not sure which wire product you want to add to your fence, ask your material supplier for quotes on more than one. This will give you a little more information to work with before you make the decision.

2. Attach Wire to Split Rail Fencing

By far, the easiest way to add wire to split rail fencing is to use barbed staples. These are pre-bent wire staples that are hammered into wood. It’s quick, easy and cost-effective, and you can buy the staples by the pail, so you have as many as you need.

Not Sure If Split Rail Fencing with Wire Is the Right Fence for You?

If you’re not sure that split rail fencing with wire (or any type of fencing for that matter) is right for your project, don’t jump into anything yet.

Even though split rail fencing with wire is cost-effective, it’s not free, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to install it for you. If you later find that it doesn’t work, you’ll have to spend more money installing a different type of fence.

Speak to a few local fence contractors about your project, your needs, and your budget, and see what they recommend. Even if you choose something different, at least you will be sure that you’ve made an educated choice!

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