Average Cost Estimate
Picket fences have been a tradition since Colonial America, and their quaint good looks give any property a homey feel. They are useful for outlining property boundaries and children’s play areas, and they’ll keep dogs in the yard, but aren’t usually up the task as security fences.
You’ve got three initial options when it comes to installing a picket fence and estimating the cost.
- Build the fence from posts, pre-built panels and accessories.
- Build a custom fence yourself from posts, caps, pickets, rails and hardware.
- Hire a fence company to install a fence with pre-built panels or to build and install a custom fence.
This Costimate is your complete guide to picket fence prices for each type (pre-built or site-built). We itemize the cost of materials and installation for DIY picket fence builders and those who prefer a turnkey project installed by a fencing contractor.
Note: Picket fences have gaps between the pickets, and this is one characteristic that sets them apart from privacy fences. Learn more about wooden privacy fences in this Costimate, or view other options in our fence and retaining wall costs section.
Related Cost Estimates & Guides
Product and Supplies Cost Details
Picket Fence Cost Factors
The labor cost of fence installation is covered below. Here are factors affecting picket fence material costs for all your options.
- Type of Project: Whether you choose a DIY fence with panels, DIY custom fence or a contractor-installed fence, pre-built or on-site built picket fences are the first major factor in your total cost.
- Height of Fence: Pre-built panels and individual pickets for custom designs are available in standard sizes. Pickets are available in sizes including 3.5’, 4’, 5’, 6’ and 8’. Short fencing is usually used in the front yard; fences of any height are popular in backyards.
- Type of Wood: Picket fences can be made from many wood types with cheap pine, recycled wood fiber, pressure-treated pine and cedar (red or white) being most popular.
- Number and Types of Gates: Gates, whether single gates for walkways or double gates for driveways, typically cost more per linear foot than standard panels.
- Hardware: You’ve got many options for your gate handles, hinges and hardware in a range of pricing.
- Accessories: Fence post caps from simple to stylish will affect cost.
Cost of Supplies
Now, let’s drill down into the specific costs of materials, so you can decide which type of picket fence is right for your budget.
- $10-$25 | Stakes, String and Marking Paint to establish the fence path.
- $36-$90 | Pre-assembled panels, which are installed by attaching them to posts. The panels are typically 8’ long and 3.5’, 4’ or 6’ high. As with pickets, untreated pine is cheapest, followed by pressure treated pine and white or red cedar. If you use pre-built panels, skip down to posts for your additional material costs.
- $2-$10 | Individual pickets used for custom fences. Panels are made from pickets 2” to 6” wide. The pickets are affixed to horizontal rails with a gap between vertical pickets of 1”-2” to create the classic picket-fence look.
- $3-$14 | Rails, two per custom-built panel, which the pickets are screwed to.
- $8-$27 | 4”x4” and 6”x6” posts 6’-8’ high are available in most materials. You have a choice of posts with a flat or decorative top.
- Note: To determine the cost of each custom-built panel as part of the total picket fence cost, decide the width of the panels, width of the picket and the gap between them, and then total up the cost of pickets, rails and posts needed to create a panel.
- $48-$75 ea. | Gates with hardware already attached cost more than standard panels.
- $6-$15 ea. | Wood fence post caps aren’t required, but if you choose to add decorative touches, there are several styles available.
- $3-$5 ea. | Bag of concrete. Depending on your soil type, you’ll need about 2 bags for every 3 posts to hold them securely in place.
- $12-$36 ea. | Gate hardware with latch, one for each gate.
- $4-$24 | 2” Galvanized screws. You’ll need about $4 worth of screws per 100 linear feet of pre-built fence panels and up to $24 for a custom-built fence of the same length.
- $60-$80 per Day | Powered auger rental. While not a necessity, digging post holes will be easier and quicker with a one-man or two-man gas-powered auger.
Note: These picket fence prices are for retail materials at stores like Lowes and Home Depot, where most DIY’er would buy them. A fence contractor you hire might get wholesale pricing on fence materials due to the large volume of business they do with building supply stores. If you hire a fence builder, consider pricing the material yourself and then asking the contractor for prices with and without materials to see which route is cheaper.
Permits, Inspection, and Installation Costs
There are a few miscellaneous costs to mention. Then, we’ll look at the cost of building/installing a picket fence.
Permits and Inspection
If your city or county requires a permit, be sure to comply. First, you won’t have any issues with the municipality once the fence is installed. Secondly, the inspection of the work is designed to make sure it is done properly, so that the fence will be durable and safe.
Note on Homeowners Associations (HOA): If your neighborhood has an HOA check its bylaws regarding fences to make sure that you fence complies there too. Some HOAs are very aggressive about enforcing bylaws, and many homeowners have been taken to court over issues as seemingly simple as a picket fence.
- $0-$75 | Utility location and marking – For your safety and to avoid costly damage, underground utility lines must be located and marked so they won’t be hit while digging fence post holes. In most areas, calling 811 will put you in touch with a service that does this. It is often free, provided by the utility companies because they don’t want the cost or liability of having to repair damaged lines.
- $75-$150 | Property line survey – Your fence must be entirely on your property and installing one on the neighbor’s property can be an expensive error. A survey will prevent that. Property line corners are marked with metal pins, often a few inches below the surface, that can be located with a metal detector. If you have a detector or can borrow one, you’ll save a few bucks. Your local building department – the same office that issues the permit – should be able to give you advice on finding your property line pins.
Installation Cost and Time
Knowing what it costs to install a fence will help you weigh the cost against the time and effort you’ll have to commit to the project to do it yourself. Fence contractors typically bid jobs by the time and materials required. We’ve listed picket fence material costs above. Here are installation costs.
- $4.00-$10.00 per linear foot | Installation of posts and pre-built fence panels
- $14.00-$22.00 per linear foot | Building and installation of a custom picket fence produced from the posts, pickets, rails and accessories that you choose
Where on the spectrum your fence cost falls depends on several variables related to time including:
- You Home’s Location – Increased travel time to remote locations incurs slightly higher costs than for homes near the building contractor’s facility.
- Obstructions – Anytime old fencing, trees or stumps, shrubs, concrete pads and other obstructions must be removed, the picket fence installation cost goes up.
- The Ground’s Levelness—Filling low areas or working with hills raises the price.
- Soil Conditions – Whether using a powered auger or shovels, going through dry clay or rocky soil takes more time and costs more than working in sand or wet clay.
- Time of Year – Fence installation costs are lower when installers are hungry for work. This period is usually winter in warmer climates and early spring and late fall, when the ground is thawed, in colder regions.
- Competitive Estimates – In any climate, the key to the lowest cost is to request written estimates from several fence companies and to let them know they are competing for the work.
Completed Installation Time
How long will it take from start to finish to build your fence? If it’s a DIY project, expect to take a day or two longer than the pros. Their schedule typically looks like this:
- 2-3 days | Simple installation of pre-built panels up to about 120 linear feet; Installation of a custom-built fence up to about 50 linear feet.
- 3-4 days | Simple installation of panels up to about 200 linear feet or custom fence to about 100 feet.
- 4-6 days | The longer the fence is and the more difficult the ground, the longer the installation time will be with either pre-built panels or custom components.
Day 1-2 involves marking the fence path, clearing any obstacles, digging fence post holes and setting the posts in concrete.
Days 2-3 are spent installing pre-built or custom-built panels.
Days 4+ on longer, more difficult jobs involve more of the same work done on days 2-3.
DIY or Hire a Pro
I’ve installed and helped install several wood picket fences over the years. If you have a nice flat lot and not many obstructions, it’s a fairly easy DIY project when using pre-built panels, or using the built-onsite method. While not as hard as installing a stockade privacy fence or chain link, you’ll still need to be good with a level, a post hole digger and most basic hand tools. Oh yeah – make sure you have helpers also.
- Requires a lot of digging and planning.
- Familiarity with a wide array of hand tools, math, power tools.
- Rent a post hole digger for the holes.
I say go for it to the DIY’ers out there. This is a good, “get your feet wet” project.
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