Closeboard or close board fencing remains a popular choice when choosing a fence because of its strength, versatility, security and ease of maintenance. Although more time consuming to fit than panel fencing, when erected properly closeboard fencing will last for years.
Before you start planning a closeboard fence, or for more information on its benefits, read our Guide to Closeboard Fencing for more background information and the choice of componentry..
How do I build a closeboard fence?
The componentry of a closeboard fence is essentially horizontal rails fixed between fence posts, to which overlapping vertical fence boards are then nailed. Our Guide to Closeboard Fencing explains the different types of rail and post configurations that can be used, but for this guide we will use the simplest configuration - notched timber posts with arris rails.
How many posts and rails do I need?
The initial stage of any fencing job is calculating your component quantities - remember, you can always speak to the knowledgeable staff at your local branch of AVS who can help you with this.
One of the advantages of closeboard fencing is that the spacing of your fence posts is not dictated by the width of a fence panel, however the conventional spacing is 1.8m, 2.7m or 3m. If the posts are further apart than 3m then the fence will not be stable.
The height of your fence dictates the number of horizontal rails that you will need. For a fence up to 1.2m in height use two rails, and for anything taller use three rails. Remember when selecting your fence posts that at least 600mm will need to be concreted into the ground, so for example a 1.8m (6') fence will require a 2.4m fence post.
How many feather edge boards do I need for a closeboard fence?
When calculating the number of feather edge boards that will be required, as a general rule allow:
- 13 boards per metre for 100mm boards
- 10 boards per metre for 125mm boards
These quantities are approximate, and your overlap may vary so it's always a good idea to order a few extra boards.
Fix your posts and arris rails
Install your first fence post (more information here) and allow the concrete to harden, then use your arris rail to measure the position of the next post and dig a new hole. Position your next post in the hole, and ask someone to hold it in position - do not add concrete at this stage. Fit your arris rails between the posts, securing into the notches on the post with a rubber mallet, then nail the rail to the post.
Once you are happy that the second post is in position, add your concrete and allow it to set.
Top tip - fixing a temporary batten or post at an angle is a good way to provide additional support to the post while constructing the fence.
Repeat this process along the length of the fence, using a taut line from one end of the fence to the other to maintain a straight line.
Fit gravel boards and stumps
Place the gravel board in position (having cut to size if necessary) and measure where to fix the gravel board cleats (small pieces of wood to join the gravel board with the post). Screw the cleats in place, then screw the gravel board to the cleats.
Stumps are short pieces of timber, with an angled top, that give additional support to the centre of the bottom arris rail in each bay of fencing. Simply dig a small 200mm hole in the centre of each bay (on the 'rear side' of the fence), under the arris rail. Position the stump in the hole with the angled end upwards, to fit under the arris rail, then backfill the hole to secure the stump.
Finally, nail the stump to the gravel board for a really secure base to your fence.
Top tip - fixing your gravel board 10mm above the ground surface will extend its life, and will also prevent rainwater from pooling at the base of your fence.
The picture below shows closeboard fencing fitted with concrete posts and gravel boards, but you can see the positioning of the centre stumps.
How to attach feather edge boards
Now that the main support structure of your fence is in place, its time to attach the feather edge boards. Starting at the left side of the bay of fencing, position the first board with its thicker end flush with the post, check your vertical level with a spirit level, and nail through the thick side with a 40mm galvanised nail to secure the board to each arris rail. Always nail through the thick side of feather edge boards to avoid splitting.
Position the next board, with the thick side overlapping the thin side of your first board by 35-40mm, and nail through the thick side (and the previous board underneath) to attach to the arris rails. Try to maintain a constant overlap - when you get to the final 2-3 boards in the run you may need to adjust the overlap to ensure the final board is flush with the post.
Recheck the vertical level every 5 boards to ensure that everything is square.
For the final board in the run, rotate the board so that the thick side is flush with the post, and the thin side is underneath the preceding board (see illustration below).
Finishing a closeboard fence
What we have constructed so far is a finished fence, but there are several cosmetic finishing touches that can be added at this stage.
A capping rail can be fixed to the top of the run of fencing to provide a neat finish, and also to deflect rainwater from the tops of the feather edge boards. To do this, fix a counter rail to the rear side of the fence, flush with the top of the boards. This gives a level surface to attach the capping rail.
To protect the top of the fence posts, and for decoration, add fence post caps as a final touch.
Treating or painting a closeboard fence uses exactly the same method as for any timber fence, although always wait six months after installation to allow for any shrinkage of the wood. Treating or painting too early could result in the shrinkage exposing vertical stripes of untreated wood!
Ask the fencing experts
For further advice about your fencing project don’t hesitate to speak to our fencing experts at your local AVS Fencing & Landscaping Supplies branch. Our ranges of closeboard fencing componentry are all available either to click and collect from your local AVS Branch or for home delivery within our AVS Branch delivery area.