Replace a Picket Fence // No Concrete Mixing // How To
First I took down the rest of the fence that was not blown down by the storm. The picket sections came down in panels and were light enough I could move them whole. Fortunately, the city periodically picks up that kind of debris, so I just had to carry them to curb and stack them.
Removing most of the posts was pretty easy as well. Whoever built the fence only set the posts 12"-18" into the ground, and most of them without concrete. A few minutes of rocking the post and they lifted right out of their holes.
The few posts that had concrete were a little more challenging, I dug out around the concrete with a shovel and then broke it up with a pick-mattock and pulled out the pieces.
After all the demolition was done, I basically had a blank slate to work from. I started by running a long tape and marking off every 8' where my posts would go (actually I kept going a few inches shy of 8' to make sure 8' rails would be long enough).
Luckily, the old fence was straight and it was still obvious where it had been so I just dug on that line. If it was less obvious I would have pounded in stakes and set a line to keep my holes in a row. Then it was time for a workout with the post-hole digger to dig all of the post holes about 24-30" deep. Most post-hole diggers have a scale on the handles that make measuring the depth easy.
Then came time to set the posts. I used this guide from quikrete on how to set posts without mixing concrete and it made the job really easy. I set the posts with a 50lb bag of concrete each, with the exception of the corners. Those I set with 3 bags. That is a lot of over kill, but the holes were big digging out the old posts and concrete is pretty cheap.
I gave the concrete for the post a few days to cure before moving on. Once it was cured I installed the railing. These are the 2x4's that run between the posts to attach the pickets to. I attached the rails to the posts with 3" deck screws, it is important to use screws rated for outdoor use.
The general rule is space the rails about 2' apart vertically, but I just followed the spacing on the fence that did not need replacing. I used a clamp set at the appropriate height to help hold the rail in place while I attached it.
After screwing the rails on, I would come back with my circular saw and cut them off about in the middle of the post to leave room to attach the next rail.
With the rails up the only thing left to do was attach the pickets. I had about 120 pickets to do, at 6 nails per picket that is around 720 nails. Hammering those by hand did not sound like fun so I rented a framing nailer from my local big box store to speed up the job. I was able to put up all of them by myself in about 2 hours using 2" galvanized ring shank nails.
Then it was just time to clean up, stand back and admire the newly re-built fence!