examples of off the shelf fence panels lined up outside a home hardware yard and  garden store
Photo: Allison Chin
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Buying Options

Get off-the-shelf panels, build your fence from scratch, or let a pro do the work.

Prefab: A DIYer can find ready-to-install panels at home centers, lumberyards, and fence suppliers. Home centers tend to have the best prices; fence suppliers usually have better quality woods and the biggest selection of designs. The downside: Fence panels, typically 8 feet long, are heavy and unwieldy, and it might take several trips to move all the material to your property. On grades that slope more than 1 foot in every 8, there'll be large, irregular gaps at the bottom.

Assemble it yourself: Building a fence the old-fashioned way—stick by stick with wood from a lumberyard or fence supplier—gets you a custom barrier that follows uneven terrain. Your choices of woods and styles are limited only by your budget. This is also the most time-consuming option and will cost more than prefab panels because you pay a premium to purchase wood by the piece. Use these handy formulas to calculate how many panels and posts you'll need:
Distance between two corners (in feet) ÷ 8 = Number of panels in a single fence run
Number of panels + 1 = Number of posts in a single fence run

Hire it out. Having a professional do all the heavy lifting and digging is the fastest and easiest way to get a fence installed—and the most costly. Pros offer the widest choice of stick-built styles, as well as panel fencing, and can create almost any design you dream up. If your property is sloped, they can even customize panels to follow the grade.
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