Friday, June 17, 2011

Vinyl Fence - Lessons Learned

I am SOOOO loving my new fence!!  Privacy is a wonderful thing. :)

But as with all projects here at Where Beauty Meets Function....things didn't quite go as planned.

If you missed the first fence post about all the drama of just getting the right materials, read this post first before you read "Lessons Learned".

I was asked where I purchased my fence.  I purchased it at Lowe's.  Earlier in the spring they were having a very nice sale on their vinyl panels.  They are usually $44 a panel, but with the sale I got them at $29 a panel!  That's $270 in savings on the panels!  

What I didn't account for was just how expensive everything else was!!!

The vinyl post cover sleeves were $28 EACH! Did you know that??  I sure didn't before I started this project!  The screws were $6 A BAG (which I needed about 10 bags when all was said and done!) or the brackets for $2 EACH (you need four brackets per panel - except end posts where you only need two) or the treated wood posts that go inside the sleeve cover ($7 EACH)!  Oh, and let's not forget a bag of concrete for each post at about $3.50 a bag and caps for $2 EACH.  

Suddenly my $25 panels weren't so cheap after all when you add almost $45 for EACH post!!!

I needed 18 panels to do my yard!  

I haven't done a final calculation on my fence, but I have estimated it has costs me about $ far.  

I've not included the cost for the picket portion yet or the gate on the other side of the house.  So, I should be around $2000 when all is said and done.

I HIGHLY recommend going to Lowe' if you are looking to install a fence on your own.  This was a GREAT resource.  I will definitely use it again in the future for other projects!!  

So, now let's discuss the lessons I learned about installing a vinyl fence.

This is probably the biggest lesson of all that I learned.  

Are you ready?


I'm joking.  Sort of. ;)

First LessonHave ALL of your materials on hand before you start!  We wasted a lot of time having to run back and forth to Lowe's because I didn't have everything on hand at one time (posts and screws).

Second Lesson - Inspect all of your panels and post covers before you leave the store!  When we started pulling panels out of the shed, some of them were cracked or had huge staples right through the panel.  So, we had to do some exchanging...which also wasted a lot of time.

Third Lesson - RENT A POWERED POST HOLE DIGGER!!!  I offered many times, but my ex kept saying no, he could do it the manual way.  We wasted a lot of time the first two days because he was being stubborn (and trying to save me money).  He finally broke down and let me rent one Monday afternoon.  For $58 we got it from 3:00 pm to 9:30 the following morning.  I cannot tell you how fast the process went once we rented the power digger.  It was absolutely worth a full day's rental cost (which was around $80 I believe.)

Fourth Lesson - Rent a digger with reverse or have a wrench on hand!  We got it wrapped around tree roots on the very first hole!  Since our auger didn't have reverse we couldn't get it to unwrap from the roots.  A call to the rental company revealed a wrench would give my ex the power to reverse it by hand and untangle the auger. It worked perfectly!  And we didn't run into anymore root trouble after that.  But just in case you you know how to undo it.

My ex trying to use a car jack to get the auger unstuck!  It didn't work.

Fifth Lesson -  Build the ground up to your fence!  Let me explain this. 

It was important to me that the top of my fence was level.  But my yard has a slope...not a major one, but when I came to installing a fence it sure felt major.  We could have done a "stair step" method to work with my slope, but I know me and I would not have been happy with this.  Stair stepping would have been fine if I had a large slope, but mine is so minor, a stair step would have looked silly in my opinion.

The options start at the high point and have a huge gap between the ground and the fence in the low spots.  Or the opposite...dig a "trench" for some of the panels in the high spots, but have a normal gap in the low spots.

My ex opted for option #2.  It was the wrong choice because it created A LOT of extra work having to dig trenches!  And it made the fence appear shorter in some spots.

After the fact, we decided that it would have best to create a gap at the highest point and then just bring in dirt to build up the ground to panels that had large gaps.  Lesson learned.


Those were the lessons we learned the hard way unfortunately.  

We both agreed after figuring all this out, we wouldn't be afraid to do another fence again.  We'd just make different choices to make it easier next time.

Some tips:

- Get one of these levels that wrap around the post!  It was the best $5 I ever spent!! 

- Since the vinyl fence panel tops aren't perfectly level, there is some slope to them, you can't measure the level from the top of the panel.  So have a piece of wood that will fit from post top to post top that you can put your straight level on to make sure your posts are level before pouring concrete.

- As recommended in the Lowe's video, we installed each panel as we went.  The alternative is to dig all the holes and posts, then install the panels, which will work fine for a wood fence, because you can self correct any mistakes easier.  But for vinyl, you have to be pretty exact, so this creates a VERY high error rate.  And once the concrete is set, you can't do much to change it.  We already had the panels sitting in the brackets when were getting ready to pour concrete for our next post.  Then I'd screw them in after the post had set.  We did not have any issues with the concrete being too soft of moving...just in case you were wondering.  It was clear out spacing was right because the panel was already in place!!  


I think that's about it!  It was VERY hard work!  I will not lie.  Probably, no definitely, the hardest DIY I've ever done!  But ABSOLUTELY worth it in the end!  

If you decide to tackle a fence on your own, feel free to ask me any questions! I'd be more than happy to give you my take or discuss problems,etc! 

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL weekend!! :)


  1. OMG I have read every word, what do you think you would have paid if you had Lowes do everything?? You look to have a pretty large yard. I think I am going to have to save my pennies and have some one else do it. I have some boulders in my yard, will the auger for the posts go through rock?


  2. I am so glad you did this post... I was wanting to put up a fence too. It's not as easy as I thought. So with that I will wait another year save some more money and HIRE SOMEONE thank you so much...Your looks great...have a good weekend


  3. WOW - sounds like a lot of work but well worth it in the end. Your project sounds like most of ours. We think it will only cost a certain amount and then it is usually doubled (or more) by the time it is done :)

  4. Wow sounds like way to much for me to even try, you must have a good relationship with the ex mine sure would not of did it!! LOL Anyways it looks nice and you have the privacy...

  5. wow! great job on the fence. that looks amazing. and I really like your choice in fencing. We really need to put up a new fence. I am thankful for this post because we will probably be doing it ourselves and these tips seem like things we would have overlooked!

  6. This fence looks AMAZING! And your yard is huge -- so jealous! :)

  7. Hey there, Erin! Thanks for letting us learn from your DIY experience. And I must agree with your little joke—it is sometimes best to hire someone. I believe that before starting anything, an expert must be consulted for an estimate of the project. There are actually companies offering free estimates. It will save you time and money. Anyway, please keep us posted on the finished work.

    ->Cristen Eacret

  8. Using a fence that suits with the place is always a top consideration especially when you want to have a more secure surrounding.

    Toronto Fences

  9. That is good to know, I need to replace my wood fence soon, it is starting to rot at the posts, so I have been thinking about going with vinyl this time around.


  10. One word of advice - leave space of about 3 inches between bottom of fence and ground. If you pile dirt under the fence for asthetics, the ground will heave in the winter and you will warp the vinyl.

  11. We are right now installing, my husband and I, white vinyl privacy fence. To save on costs we knew and figured what those vinyl post sleeves would be, so we decided to install our with treated wood posts only, then I capped them off the top with the white vinyl tops, wasnt sure if it would look ok or not, but I love it...the white caps on top the wood posts ties it all together.....thought I would let you know, that is another way of cutting costs, and believe me it looks great!!! if anyone would like pics sent to see just let me know...we are on the last run of fence this week then we will be done, it does take patience to install...but worth it in the end!!

  12. I had to scrub off at least 12 panels & It took over 2 hours! My arms were tired by the end, but it felt like a miracle when it actually came off!wood picket fence panels

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