Do-It-Yourself Information for Vinyl Fences and Gates

The hardest part of installing a vinyl fence and/or gate is digging the post holes and mixing the concrete. If you can imagine yourself doing that, and you’re able to use a saw, drill and level, you should be able to build your own PVC fence. The vinyl components are light-weight and easy to handle. The skill level required is about the same as installing a wood fence. We provide the following standard installation instructions and we’re always happy to “talk you through it” if you still need help.

Installation Instructions: Pre-Construction

  1. CALL BEFORE YOU DIG.
    Before installing any fence or deck you MUST always call to have all underground utilities marked out. It’s the law, it’s free and it may well save someone’s life (particularly hydro and gas lines). ONTARIO: 1-800-400-2255 QUEBEC: 1-800-663-9228 (for other areas try the North American One-Call Referral System at 888-258-0808, or try here for more numbers ).
  2. VERIFY ALL EASEMENTS, REQUIREMENTS FOR BUILDING PERMITS & BY-LAWS CONCERNING HEIGHT OR STYLE REGULATIONS.
    Local by-laws or Community Associations may regulate the height, style and/or placement of a fence. Some locations even require a building permit.
  3. TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS AND VERIFY PROPERTY LINES.
    The best time to discuss/argue over property lines is before the posts have been set in concrete. Installation will typically be easier if you have access from both sides of the fence and happy neighbours are far more likely to help share the costs.
  4. READ THE INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. 
    The best time to ask questions is before the posts have been set in concrete or your materials have been cut. If you can’t understand any aspect of the instructions below, call us to clarify before you start construction.

Installation Instructions: Digging and Installing PVC Posts in Concrete

  1. LAY OUT YOUR DESIRED FENCE LINE(S).
    It’s almost always a good idea to discuss this with neighbours, before setting your posts in concrete.
  2. ESTABLISH A METHOD OF DETERMINING WHERE END AND CORNER POSTS ARE TO BE INSTALLED ONCE YOU’VE DUG POSTHOLES (AND ERASED YOUR MARKINGS).
    A good idea might be to lay string lines, or paint line markings, exactly 12″ inside or outside of the desired fence lines. Later you can use this 12″ offset to establish where exactly posts should be set inside the concrete piers.
  3. ESTABLISH THE MINIMUM HEIGHT OF POSTS REQUIRED FOR THE PARTICULAR STYLE OF FENCE YOU HAVE CHOSEN.
    Fence panels resting on the ground are VERY likely to heave with frost. Schematics for all Fence-All Vinyl styles note the typical clearance above ground assumed within the height description and posts should typically be 2″ higher than the fence panel. (Meaning: 6′ high Alexandria Vinyl fence requires a minimum of 6’2″ of post above ground level.)
  4. MAKE A GREASE PENCIL MARK ON ALL POSTS, SHOWING THE MINIMUM HEIGHT ESTABLISHED ABOVE.
    These marks will come in handy when it comes time to install the posts into the concrete piers. The mark can not be buried in the concrete, or the fence will be resting on the ground (or even buried in the ground). The mark will also show how high off the ground the fence will be, if you choose to raise the post to allow for keeping the fence level.
  5. DETERMINE WHICH OF YOUR END OR CORNER POSTS IS TO BE INSTALLED AT THE HIGHEST ELEVATION.
    Typically the ground is highest by the house, or by the road, and this is where you will want to install your first post. If the ground seems very level, you can start at either end.
  6. DIG THIS END OR CORNER POSTHOLE.
    We recommend a 10″ diameter hole that is at least 36″ deep, and is slightly larger diameter at the bottom of the hole. If you have ground conditions, or questions about frost depth in your particular area, call us for some free advice.
  7. SET THIS END OR CORNER POST IN A CONCRETE PIER.
    We recommend (i) pouring concrete into the posthole up to about 8″ to 12″ below ground level, (ii) pushing the post down into the concrete pier until the grease pencil marking is at ground level, (iii) ensuring the post is set straight/level and (iv) topping up the balance of the hole with soil/sod on top of the concrete
    The concrete should NOT be brought up to ground level, as the concrete is very likely to crack from the heat of the sun and will allow water to fall down into the pier.
  8. ESTABLISH THE LOCATION OF THE NEXT POST IN THE LINE OF FENCE.
    Most of our fence designs call for a MAXIMUM of 8′ spacing from centre of post to centre of post, although some homeowners choose to pay the little extra to have evenly spaced panels down each line. This should be verified by reviewing the schematic of the particular style of fence you have chosen.
  9. DIG AND SET THIS NEXT POST STRAIGHT/LEVEL IN CONCRETE.
    FOR STEPPED OR STRAIGHT FENCES: The post should be set at the same height as the previous post, recognizing that this may leave a gap below the fence which is shown with the grease pencil mark that had been applied earlier.
    FOR SLOPED FENCES: The post should be set with the grease pencil mark at ground level. NOTE: Sloped is only an option for some fence styles.
  10. ESTABLISH THE LOCATION OF THE NEXT POST IN THE LINE OF FENCE.
  11. DIG AND SET THIS NEXT POST STRAIGHT/LEVEL IN CONCRETE.
    FOR STRAIGHT FENCES: The post should be set at the same height as the previous post, recognizing that this may leave a gap below the fence which is shown with the grease pencil mark that had been applied earlier.
    FOR SLOPED FENCES: The post should be set with the grease pencil mark at ground level.
    FOR STEPPED FENCES: Place the style template which has been provided up against the previous post, low to ground level on the same side as the new post that is being installed next. The new post should be set at a height equal to the top of the template marking (using some type of level across the span).
  12. STAND BACK AND REVIEW THE FLOW OF THE FENCE BEFORE THE CONCRETE STARTS TO SET.
    You may want to raise the post, to improve the look, recognizing that this may mean more gaping beneath the fence.
  13. GO BACK TO POINTS #10-11-12 ABOVE ALL THE WAY DOWN THE FENCE LINE.
  14. AT THE START OF EACH NEW FENCE LINE GO BACK TO POINT #5 ABOVE.
  15. ONCE ALL POSTS ARE INSTALLED, MEASURE THE OPENINGS FOR ALL GATES AND CALL THEM IN TO FENCE-ALL.
    Gates openings are each to be measured inside post to inside post. Fence-All will determine gate sizes, allowing for hardware, based on the opening sizes provided here.

Installation Instructions: Cutting and Installing PVC Rails and Panels

  1. STARTING WITH THE END OR CORNER POST WHICH IS INSTALLED AT THE HIGHEST ELEVATION, PLACE STYLE TEMPLATE UP TO POST.
    Many customers use rubber clamps to hold the templates to the posts at this stage.
  2. MARK OUT THE HOLES IN THE TEMPLATE, WHICH REPRESENT WHERE THE RAILS WILL NEED TO SLIDE INTO THE POSTS.
  3. USING A DRYWALL DREMEL TOOL, JIG SAW, OR ROUTER; CUT OUT ALL OF THE RAIL HOLES AS MARKED OUT. 
    Many customers practice cutting these holes – somewhere on the template – prior to cutting their first hole on posts.
  4. SLIDE A BOTTOM RAIL, WITH A METAL INSERT INSIDE, INTO THE BOTTOM HOLE THAT HAS BEEN CREATED, AIMING IT TO RUN BESIDE THE NEXT POST.
  5. ESTABLISH AT WHICH HEIGHT THE BOTTOM RAIL IS TO BE INSTALLED INTO THE NEXT POST.
    FOR STEPPED OR STRAIGHT FENCES: The rail should be set out level.
    FOR SLOPED FENCES: The rail would slope down or up to within a few inches above ground level.
  6. USING THE HEIGHT AT WHICH THE BOTTOM RAIL IS TO BE INSTALLED, SET THE STYLE TEMPLATE UP TO THE POST – BASED ON THE HEIGHT OF THE BOTTOM RAIL.
  7. MARK OUT THE HOLES IN THE TEMPLATE.
  8. CUT THE RAIL MARKINGS.
  9. DETERMINE THE DESIRED HEIGHT OF THE SECTION, COMING OUT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POST.
    FOR STRAIGHT FENCES: The template should be set at the same height as the rail holes already cut in the post. FOR STEPPED FENCES: The template should be set within a few inches of ground level.
    FOR SLOPED FENCES: The template should be set at a few inches higher or lower, to continue the slope that is being created.
  10. MARK OUT THE HOLES IN THE TEMPLATE.
  11. CUT THE RAIL MARKINGS.
  12. SLIDE A BOTTOM RAIL, WITH A METAL INSERT INSIDE, INTO THE BOTTOM HOLE THAT HAS BEEN CREATED, AIMING IT TO RUN BESIDE THE NEXT POST.
  13. GO BACK TO POINTS #9-10-11-12 ABOVE ALL THE WAY DOWN THE FENCE LINE.

Do-It-Yourself Information for Vinyl Gates

Typically AFTER the posts are set you phone in the measurement of the space between the gate posts and we build the gate. This way if any small errors have been made in setting the posts, or if one had to be moved because of an impediment (e.g., a large rock) in the ground you’ll still end up with a gate that fits perfectly.

Installation Instructions: Hanging the Gate

  1. STAND GATE UP IN TO POSITION.
    Blocks of wood under the gate, to help set it in place, can help you to visualize and determine at what height you want to install your gate. Keep in mind that if you plan to be using the gate in the winter you may want extra clearance below the gate. Another consideration: pool by-laws typically limit the amount of gap allowed.
  2. DETERMINE IN WHICH DIRECTION YOU WANT YOUR GATE TO SWING.
    Gates generally swing into the yard (mandatory for pool compliance) and the latch is generally installed on the gate post which is closer to the house (so a gate on the right side of the house generally latches on the left gate post).
  3. HINGES ARE GENERALLY INSTALLED IN LINE WITH THE TOP AND BOTTOM RAILS OF THE FENCE/GATE. 
    This is partially determined by the style and your tastes, but the bottom hinge should be within 12″ of the bottom of the gate and the top hinge within 18″ of the top of the gate (e.g. NOT above the lattice topper if one exists, but below it).
  4. GATE FINGER AND FINGER CATCH SHOULD BE SET AT ABOUT 5’h REGARDLESS OF THE STYLE. 
    Again, this can be adjusted a little higher or lower, depending on tastes – but it MUST BE 4-1/2’h FOR POOL COMPLIANCE. The gate finger is installed on the gate, and the catch on the post. NOTE: For double gates the gate finger is installed on the gate that will be used most often, while the catch and the cane bolt is installed on the gate that will only be opened when you need access through both gates.
  5. GATES FOR POOL AREAS REQUIRE AN AUTO-CLOSURE GATE SPRING.
    Auto-Springs and Access from Outside bars generally include instructions in their packaging.
  6. VINYL GATE HINGES ARE ADJUSTABLE if changes are needed in the future. 
    You’ll notice if you look at our Vinyl Gate Hinges that to adjust the gate you DO NOT need to take the gate off of the posts. By tightening//slackening the adjustment nuts on the long threaded rod – the gate will slide left to right.
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