Installing composite fencing is a reasonably intensive job as DIY tasks go, and it’s going to take you at least a couple of days. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be difficult or tedious though, and as long as you’re sufficiently prepared, you might be surprised at how straightforward it can be. As always with these sorts of jobs, the devil is in the detail! Don’t worry though – that’s exactly what we’re here for at North Valley Composites. Here, we’ll cover all the essentials of installing your composite fencing, so you can complete the job to perfection. How to plan and prepare for installing composite fencing One of the first questions that you’ll need answering is: how much composite fencing do you need? Obviously the answer is different for almost every project, so the best place to start is by measuring your garden to work out what the total length of your fence will be, which in turn will tell you how many posts and panels will be required. If your composite fencing posts are four feet long for example, then you’ll need fence posts every four feet to ensure proper stability. Measuring out your fence is one of the first things you’ll need to do, and don’t hesitate to take your time with it! Rather than starting out in the garden, we’d personally recommend working everything out with a pen and paper first, and use a ruler for accuracy. Keeping the measurements as precise as possible can end up saving you a whole lot of time, money and hassle – it stops you from buying too much or too little of what you need, so you can avoid the potential wastage associated with overbuying, as well as potentially annoying trips back out to the shops again if you fall short. Once you’re satisfied with how it all looks on paper, you can then pop out to the garden and check that all the measurements translate to the real world as you expect them to. One popular method is to use stakes and spray paint to mark out the intended area. A final quick word of advice on planning – when you’re choosing the height of your posts for your garden, don’t forget to allow for an extra 2ft (600mm) for stability, as this is the length that will sit below ground level, set in concrete. How to stay safe when installing your composite fencing By far the most important thing when installing composite fencing – more important than accuracy, efficiency or convenience – is safety. Thankfully, it’s far from difficult; you can keep yourself safe in just a few simple steps. Get a friend It can be tempting to try and tackle the job yourself, but installing composite fencing often involves hauling around heavy materials, and occasionally holding them at awkward or challenging angles. Many can be heavy enough to cause injury, so it’s therefore far safer (and easier) to get a friend or family member to help you. Plus, with help you can probably get the job done in much less time! Wear the right PPE Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is another thing that plenty of people skip. But trust us, it’s absolutely vital for a job like this. Typically we’d recommend gloves, long sleeves and trousers, and most importantly facial protection, including protective eyewear and dust mask at the very minimum. Make sure it’s not just you wearing it, but everyone involved! Choose your tools carefully Standard tools can be used to install composite fencing, but it’s a good idea to give them all a quick inspection before you use them, to make sure they’re clean, sharp and reliable. (There are few things more dangerous than a blunt saw.) Speaking of saws, when you’re using a mitre saw or similar cutting tool, we’d personally recommend a 60T multipurpose aluminium blade, for maximum efficiency and neatness on cuts. What tools do I need for installing composite fencing? Some of the tools you’ll need for installing composite fencing are obvious, whereas others are slightly less so! Here’s the list in full: PPE (especially protective eyewear), as detailed above Pencil and paper Tape measure Spirit level (it can be useful, but not essential, to have a laser level) Stringline A post hole digger (or post borer), or some other form of digging equipment A handsaw, or mitre saw Carpenter’s square Post mix concrete (the amount will be dependent on the scale of your project) An electric drill and cordless screwdriver for installing the fence base plates A stepladder may be helpful, depending on the height of the fence in question A step by step guide to installing your composite fence Start by mapping the fence line Following straight on from your planning, you’ll want to establish the line of the fence first, by running a string line around the border and and setting the corners. It’s really important during this bit to keep it all straight, taut and level, as it will ultimately be your guide for installing the fence panels. If you want a bit more reassurance, corner bracing can provide additional stability. If you’re using corner bracing, don’t forget that you need one diagonal brace for each side of your fence. And of course, bear the basics in mind – before you get started, you’ll need to clear away any extra plants and vegetation, and always ensure that you install the posts on your side of the boundary – you can end up in some awkward confrontations with neighbours otherwise! Mounting the first post Before you do anything else, you’ll need to decide the mounting location, as that will basically dictate the location of your first fence post. If it’s going in your back garden, you’ll probably find it easiest to attach it directly to your home, or another equally stable structure. If your fence does indeed run all the way up to your house, make sure that the first post is securely attached to the building with wall anchors. Don’t forget to drill and plug them directly into the brickwork, and not the mortar – you can compromise its structural stability otherwise. Fix your posts in concrete Following the line you’ve marked, put your post borer to work in digging holes at a minimum depth of 26” (650mm). A quick note here – you can technically dig anywhere between 600mm to 850mm down depending on the softness of the ground, but you’ll just need to bear in mind that whatever depth you dig down to has to be accounted for in extra fence height. Once the hole has been dug, you’ll then need to pack it with approximately 50mm of broken brick or stone hardcore, to provide initial support for the post. Now, here’s the tricky bit. Using a wooden brace for support, and using your spirit level and carpenter’s square to accurately position the post, pack the hole with more hardcore towards the bottom. Make sure to leave about 1ft (300mm) for further packing, and filling in with concrete. Once you’re sure that it’s sufficiently packed and that it remains level, you can then feel free to start filling the hole with concrete. When you’ve finished concreting around the base of the post, angle it away slightly to allow rainwater to drain away more easily. Install composite fencing panels Once you’ve concreted the post, you’ll need to wait at least 24 hours, as it’ll take between 1 and 2 days for the cement to properly cure. If you anticipate (or need) it to harden more quickly than that, then it might be an idea to purchase quick-drying cement ahead of time. Whatever you opt for, as soon as your cement is dry, you’ll need to identify the desired height for your new panels, and then use that as a gauge to work out where to connect them. Before you actually install your panels, it’s worth taking a quick look at the situation on the ground – literally. The panels need to be close enough to the earth to keep your pets from any impromptu exploring, while equally preventing other animals from potentially burrowing their way into your garden – whether that’s the neighbour’s dog, or something a bit more nefarious. That should cover the basics! And if you need the materials to get the job done, rest assured that you’re in exactly the right place. Here at North Valley Composites, we provide an exhaustive range of composite fencing materials, including composite fence boards, fence panels and accessories, and even composite gate boards. On the other hand, if you’ve got any questions or need any advice, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01282 677300 to talk to a friendly member of our team, and we’ll be only too happy to see how we can help.