Do-It-Yourself Information for Iron Fences and Gates
The hardest part of installing an iron 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, wrench and level, you should be able to install your own Iron 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
- 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 ).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Iron Posts in Concrete
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 rot and heave with frost. Schematics for all Fence-All Iron styles note the typical clearance above ground assumed within the height description and posts should typically be 2″ higher than the fence panel. (Meaning: 5′ high Manhattan Iron fence requires a minimum of 5’2″ of post above ground level.)
- 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.
- 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.
- DIG THIS END OR CORNER POSTHOLE.
We recommend a 6″ 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- DIG AND SET THIS NEXT POST STRAIGHT/LEVEL IN CONCRETE.
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.
- 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.
- GO BACK TO POINTS #10-11-12 ABOVE ALL THE WAY DOWN THE FENCE LINE.
- AT THE START OF EACH NEW FENCE LINE GO BACK TO POINT #5 ABOVE.
- 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.
- ATTACH THE PANELS TO THE POSTS WITH THE PANEL BRACKETS WHICH HAVE BEEN INCLUDED (YOU MAY NEED TO TRIM DOWN EACH PANEL TO FIT THE OPENING).
NOTE: The metal filings that are made when cutting expose steel which has NOT been treated for outdoor use. These filings are very likely to rust so try NOT to cut your panels on top of a deck and do not let the filings fall down onto the panels.
Do-It-Yourself Information for Iron 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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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 12″ of the top of the gate.
- 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.
- GATE HINGES ARE ADJUSTABLE if changes are needed in the future.
You’ll notice if you look at our 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.
- GATES FOR POOL AREAS REQUIRE AN AUTO-CLOSURE GATE SPRING.
Auto-Springs are very much like the typical hinge (post collar and gate collar system). Make note of which way the spring will want to push to determine if you’ll need the spring to aim up or down on the hinge. (Springs only work in one direction – reversing up or down, means they can be used for either direction). The third large nut on the auto-hinge is to adjust the spring tension bar.