How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane Australia

How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane

Recently I taught my millennial youngest son how to build a timber paling fence on his Brisbane property.  Like many of his age group he stars at computer and related smart phone stuff and excels at his office day job in the CBD.  but in his first 31 years has never really dug many holes in the ground or driven nails and screws into fence posts.

How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane But now he has joined the wonderful world of home ownership he has discovered that having his old man as free labour (well the fee is a few cold ones) and adding some elbow grease of his own that he can keep the costs of timber fence building down considerably.   A carpenter mate also turned up to help.

For the design we drove around several neighbouring wealthy suburbs for ideas.  What we started with was an old 1980’s school wire mesh fence with steel fence posts that really dated the house and was not the overall look he ultimately wants. It was also crooked.

How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane Australia
How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane Australia

Up early Saturday morning we began the demolition of that old unsightly fence, we quickly discovered that whoever had constructed that fence certainly meant the steel posts to stay in the ground. With the use of shovels, crow bars and a jack hammer we averaged about two and a half hours per old fence post to dig them out.  In all twelve old fence posts took us the whole weekend to dig out and remove in the Ute to the recycling area of nearest rubbish tip.

The few cold ones were hard earned but very well received!

Now with the front yard a little tidier we called AAA Timber and they delivered some nice straight dry fence posts, fence palings and fence railings. Placing the timber in the front yard exactly where we wanted it left.  A $5.95 fence paint brush and a 15 litre drum of Solagard Paint from Wattyl meant that I could get a primer coat of paint on ready for the next weekend.

Whenever you have timber meeting soil in the ground it needs to be treated before contact to keep bugs, termites and rot from ruining it.  In times gone by I can remember on my Uncles farm they used to burn and char the ends of the timber fence posts that were going in the ground.  They also used a 50-50 mix of old engine oil and diesel which must have worked because many of those fences still stand over half a century later.

However, for my sons fence posts we coated each fence post with a good coat of Diggers Eco In-Ground Timber Protecta. It is a non-hazardous ‘creosote alternative’ that provides a tough bitumen coating to improve protection against moisture and deterioration on timber fence posts and masonry surfaces.

The small 1 litre pot was about $22.00 and we left them to dry until the next weekend.

How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane The next weekend rolled around quickly and once again we got stuck in early. We spent quite a while getting our string lines dead straight and painted dead centre for each fence post on the ground.  The time taken to set up, level, straight and square always pays dividends as nothing looks worse than a crooked wobbly front fence.

Once set up, we allowed about 3 bags of Rapid cement that we got from AAA Timber and Hardware for each fence post and as we stood the fence posts in, one used the long spirit level and one tipped the rapid mix into the hole.  Our garden hose provided the water to the wet mix and each hole was well tamped down so that the fence posts stood vertical and rigid.

We drove some timber pegs in and added braces to hold everything steady and plumb and in a straight line.   The 12 posts took all day to finish and although the cement bag said allow 24 hours to dry hard, we decided to wait until the following weekend to set the rails up and to fix the fence palings on.  We covered the holes for safety and to prevent weather issues.

Once again, a few cold ones ended a good day.

Being from the old school of fence construction I prefer to half house the fence posts so that the fence railings fit tight and stay straight for years.  Some more modern spec builders like to simply use a couple of batten screws driven through the fence railings hard onto the fence post with no checking out but take a look at those ones a few years later and more often than not they wonder all over the place.

So out came the chalk line again and the saw and chisel and 3 checks in each post appeared a few hours later. Primed and ready for the timber fence railings that I had pre-primed during the week.

How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane It is well accepted that too many joins on one fence post isn’t good practice as it may weaken that fence post. Staggered joins are better so we then set the timber fence railings out and cut them to length so any join would meet exactly in the middle of the post. 60 mm 10-gauge Fence railing battens were then drilled and driven in to hold the fence railings tight and straight.  At the same time, we worked on an 8m long 1800mm high fence on the neighbours side.

Another good hard day complete.

And then for the front fence 1500 mm high timber fence palings. All laid out and pre-primed and as you can see the cheap brush was put to maximum use.  Or as they say in the sporting arena “it was never going to die wondering”  Which then left us with a full day’s work tacking and screwing up the vertical timber fence palings.

These palings need to be spaced so that they fit within the timber fence post with minimum amount of trimming of the last one or two so they look evenly spaced. We used our carpenter mates tacking gun, shooting two tacks into each of the three timber railings and later went along the fence with a drill and driver to screw the whole fence off.  100 plus fence palings meant that we used over 600 fence screws. We double checked for plumb about every third paling.

For a nice design feature, we then added a top rail sitting hard down on the palings and used a router to put an aris on the top of all the timber fence posts. Some leave the screw holes showing, but I prefer to fill them with instant putty, let that dry and harden before a light sand and two coats of paint.

How to Build a Timber Paling Fence Brisbane We also hung and hinged two pre-made galvanized gate frames on the driveway side and put in a brand-new post box.  As it happened when I was standing outside planning how to cut the post box hole out of the fence palings the Postie came by on his motor scooter and we were able to locate the new post box at exactly the height he preferred.  I then added a nice brass number to the drive-side fence post and job done!

Many of the people walking along the street and passing the property since the new timber fence was completed, have stopped and commented on how beautiful it looks.

Very satisfying.

We cleaned the front yard up and now it’s ready for landscaping!


For all your timber fencing in Brisbane needs call David at AAA Timber and Hardware on 07 3376 8188 or visit him 6 days a week 2/37 – 41 Spine Street, Sumner Park West Brisbane Qld 4074