DIY Fence Builders: Premade Panels vs. Stick-Built Fencing

As a Do-It-Yourself homeowner interested in putting together a fence, you have two options: installing pre-made panels or constructing the entire thing from scratch. (This latter method is known as stick building). Most DIYers opt for the first method as a matter of convenience: preassembled fencing is readily available at big box stores, installation mainly consisting of setting them between fence posts. Based on this one-sentence pitch, prebuilt seems like the ideal route—certainly less expensive than hiring the services of a professional contractor. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to both of the above mentioned methods that one needs to consider.

What are the benefits of preassembled fence panels?

As we alluded to earlier, the top reason DIYers choose pre-made fencing is time/money saved on installation. Because the panels have been assembled in advance, you’re likely to save what’d otherwise amount to days—or even weeks—building from scratch. Please note that you’re still responsible for installing fence posts, which includes measuring and marking spots, running plumb lines, digging holes, and setting concrete. What’s more, the posts need to be spaced apart according to the length of the panels.

Accommodation of these conditions, however, means a complete fence can potentially be installed over the course of a weekend—sometimes even just a day! And whereas most fence installation jobs require the combined efforts of whole teams, prebuilt fence panels typically require two people: one to hold each end of a panel while it’s being set between posts.

What are the disadvantages of preassembled fence panels?

Because everything’s assembled in advance, prebuilt panels offer less in terms of customization options. This means you have to be absolutely certain of the fence style you’re purchasing. America’s Fence Store also recommends buying prebuilt panels only from a reputable contractor with decades in the business. The panels available at big box stores tend to be low-quality: made of flimsy materials and held together with staples (rather than the nails used to fashion the wood fence panels available here at America’s Fence Store).

One advantage of stick-built fencing vs. pre-made panels is greater freedom for customization. Since everything’s put together from scratch, if you’re willing to dedicate the extra time, you can adjust individual panels as needed or desired, crafting the fence in your own image.

What type is best when building a fence on a hill?

Installing prebuilt fencing on hills is a common occurrence, though it presents a few disadvantages that are avoidable with stick building. Because pre-made panels are designed for installation on flat terrain, on slopes they need to be staggered in a step-shaped formation. This in turn leaves triangular gaps between the grade and the bottom of the fence that—in addition to being unsightly—present openings through which pets, children, and intruders can enter or escape. And while covering up gaps with landscaping or shrubbery is certainly possible, it requires more work on the part of the installer and does not guarantee the same level of security as a fence whose bottom is nestled firmly against the ground.

Installing pre-made fence panels on hills and slopes is also more complicated than installing on flat terrain. Fence posts always need to be set at a certain depth while covering enough above-ground height to sufficiently hold up a panel. For this reason, when installing on hills, each post needs to be custom measured and cut—so that it reaches deep enough into the ground for stability and high enough to help secure their attached panel(s) in place.

With stick-built fencing, however, each picket can be staggered so that panels move parallel to the contour of the terrain—allowing you to more easily avoid those unsightly gaps.

The Final Word: prebuilt fence panels vs. stick-built fencing

For Do-It-Yourself fence builders working on consistently even terrain, prebuilt fencing is understandably the common choice—not as expensive, requiring less installation time. And we must emphasize this: if you decide on pre-made panels, always purchase from a reputable fence contractor. You only want panels made of high-quality material—sturdy and long-lasting.

Fortunately, America’s Fence Store—the Midwest’s top online vendor for all things fencing—sells high-quality prebuilt wood fence panels at very affordable prices!

Ordering Wood Fence Panels from America’s Fence Store

Our preassembled panels come in two types: fully assembled and not assembled. (Not assembled is slightly cheaper.) To order:

1. Select your wood fence panel style.

2. Choose Fully Assembled or Not Assembled from the dropdown list.

3. Click Add to Cart