By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Is there a more traditional accent to a house than a picket fence? No other type of fence can add the charm and warmth of wood pickets, whether they have wide, straight-cut tops or scalloped top sections with pointed tips. Picket fencing is typically sold in a variety of styles in sections measuring 3 to 4 feet high and in 48- or 96-inch lengths. The more contemporary pickets are narrow and spaced close together, while classic pickets are wider and broadly spaced.
Before you do anything, contact your local building department and ask if there are building code requirements and permits needed to build a fence - there usually are. Find out what the required depth for post holes is because it depends on the frost line (how deep the ground freezes) in your area. There may be other restrictions about the height of the fence or how close it can be to your neighbor’s property. Refer to a copy of your property survey to make sure you know exactly where your property begins and ends to avoid building a fence on your neighbor's property.
A fence contractor will charge $1,235 to build a 50-foot-long, 36-inch high pressure-treated picket fence with posts and rails and one gate. This includes the labor and material. You can buy the material for $475 and build it yourself, saving 61percent. To build the fence you'll also need cement, a posthole digger, shovel and 4-ft. carpenter's level. Not included is the additional cost to stain or paint the fence. To lay out the fence, use string and stakes to make sure that it's straight.
For inspiration and ideas about all the types of picket fences go to
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to build a picket fence with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Cost updated 2018
The cost and time data is generated by averaging labor and material data from annually updated cost books used by contractors and refined by the authors'
experience remodeling 13 houses. They are authors of 20 home improvement books and Do It Yourself or Not, a weekly column syndicated by Tribune Content
Agency. The national cost can be adjusted by ZIP Code.