Build A Decorative Metal Rebar Fence For The Front Yard - For Less Than Seven Dollars Per Linear Foot
Decorative metal fencing is an expensive option for any home, but with careful planning, simple welding skills, and the use of an often-overlooked building material, one can still capture this elegant look at an affordable cost. I am talking about rebar steel of course, the rusty-looking metal rods that are stacked vertically in your local hardware store and sell for about five dollars per ten-foot section. It may be hard to imagine the hideous looking things becoming the pride and joy of your front yard, but trust me, that raw steel has potential.
I suppose that many believe I have become a rebar-metal aficionado on the internet--if there is such a thing. My first rebar-fencing article, "Build a Decorative Metal Rebar Fence for Your Home for Less Than Seven Dollars Per Linear Foot" has become a surprising hit with international search-engine referrals, and much of my work in folk art projects utilize rebar as a medium in one way or another. I find Rebar a very interesting and resourceful material, and I think that you will as well. It is inexpensive, easily obtained, and it can be shaped easily by at-home craftsmen (and craftswomen) with little or no metal-working experience. All it takes to have a beautiful steel fence surrounding your home's front yard is a small monetary investment, a little patience, and a few hours of hard work.
This front-yard fencing project is similar to the original rebar fence plans, but it has been modified in design to meet most local building code restrictions and to enhance the beauty and utility of the finished project. But let's get started with a list of what materials you will need in order to construct your first ten-foot section of front-yard rebar fencing.
- Nine half-inch diameter rebar sections ten feet in length.
- Two six-foot long four-by-four pressure treated posts.
- One eighty-pound bag of pre-mixed cement (forty pounds for each post).
- Two pre-fabricated copper post toppers (sold at hardware stores for about $4 each).
- Wood sealer and stain for the four-by-four posts.
- Oil-based paint similar to Rustoleum for the rebar spires.
Once you have purchased the materials, you will need to assemble the following tools for the job:
- A welder. If you've never welded before, you can find some useful tips on learning here.
- About half-a-pound of 6011 or 6013 welding rods (if you use a stick welder).
- A grinder, band saw, torch, or some other method to cut 1/2 inch rebar easily.
- A (for marking the joints to be welded). soapstone marker
- A ruler and a T-Square tool (for assembly of the rebar sections into fencing).
- A Level (for squaring the wooden posts).
- A drill with a half-inch or a five-eighths inch drill bit (for drilling the holes into the posts).
- A circular saw (for trimming the top of the wooden posts level).
- A five-gallon plastic bucket and wooden stick (for mixing the concrete).
- A post-hole shovel (for the really fun part).
- A rubber mallet (for seating the horizontal rebar supports into the wooden posts).
*Always remember your safety equipment!
Assembly Instructions That You Can Understand
Now that you and your significant other have managed to fit those ten-foot rebar sections in the back of the family station wagon and haul them safely to your worksite, the real fun can begin. Follow the procedure below to assemble your fencing:
- Take two straight sections of rebar and set them aside.
- Take the remaining seven sections and cut each one of them into three equal sections of 3 foot six inches. This should yield twenty-one sections (spires) of roughly equal length.
- Near your welding machine, place the two ten-foot sections on the ground (a safe surface for welding). Align them so that they are parallel and 2 feet six inches apart. I like to use two pre-drilled two-by-four boards to secure the sections into position.
- Using the soapstone marker, mark off six-inch intervals along the length of both support sections. These marks will be the location that you will place the spires.
- Using the T-square as you go, place nineteen spires on top of the support rebar sections along the soapstone markings that you measured. When they are centered, the spires should extend approximately six inches past the top and bottom support boards.
- The fence section is now pre-assembled. Inspect the spires one final time to make sure they are aligned properly. Once you are satisfied, ground your welder and spot weld the 38 joints together. I prefer welding on both sides of the joint, but that is your call.
- Chip off the slag, and you have your completed your first ten feet of steel fencing.
Installing Your Masterpiece
Unfortunately, putting up fencing still requires that one dig a hole. For this construction, I suggest a hole at least sixteen inches deep with an inch or two space on each side of the wooden post. Make sure that you consider underground utility lines before you dig. The last thing that you want to do is shovel into a high-power electrical line, water main, or other expensive, and possibly dangerous problem.
Once you have completed the first hole, place a few scoops of concrete into the hole for support, and then place the wooden post into the hole. Use the level to make it straight on all sides, and then mix and pour your concrete. The post can be secured in its level position by the use of small one-by-one boards (six to eight feet long) lightly nailed into the top of the post and then temporarily anchored into the surrounding grass.
When the concrete mix has dried (one day typically), measure the location where you want your two support rebar sections to be mounted. This is the spot where you will drill a two-inch hole into the post in order to slide the corresponding support rebar into position. I placed the mark for my bottom hole about ten inches above the ground. This allowed the fence to mount four inches above ground level. Drill only the bottom hole first, and then re-measure using the actual fence section as a guide. If you drill these holes even slightly off, you will have a big problem getting the fence section to mount in this manner.
After drilling and installing one side of the fence section, support the other end off of the ground with a block of wood or some other item that makes the fence level from the ground. Using a string line, or some other method, line your fence up in the proper direction and then mark the spot that you will dig your next hole. Temporarily remove the fencing and then dig the second hole.
Follow the same procedure for marking, drilling, and installing the support rebar into the wooden posts. Once everything looks right, level and support the post and pour your concrete.
Your fence is now installed. At this point, I personally like to add a few inches of concrete around the post base to prevent water from accumulating and causing decay, but that is your choice. The only remaining chore is to stain the wood, paint the rebar, and place the copper cap onto the top of the posts for decorative beauty and protection of the woodgrain. Most of these caps will fit fairly snug, but you can apply some adhesive to the top of the post if you want a more secure fit.
Estimated Construction Time
There is no doubt that this project will take a considerable amount of work hours to construct. I simply took my time with the project and installed the ten-foot sections as I wanted. If you start in a corner, the unfinished section can be attractive even when it is incomplete. I did this in my construction, and the corner section looked like a garden accent until the remainder was completed. As a guide for you, each section took the good part of a day for me to install, and I did complete the project by myself.
While reviewing the photographs, one may notice that this fence differs from the backyard fencing project in that the spires are closer together--thus preventing the encroachment of any neighborhood dogs or other large animals. The fencing is also shorter, meeting local requirements that allow only a four-foot high fence in the front yard. In the sample photographs, one can see that an access gate was added to this plan near the front of the house. This simply-constructed gateway allows good neighbors to visit as they please, but allows the flexibility to lock out others with a simple padlock.
The special letter detailing, which in this case is the name of the neighborhood, was constructed using a simple metal bender and welded sections of rebar. The letters are a more advanced project, and I do not recommend the beginning welder attempt to make them until he has developed some experience working with rebar or rolled steel. If you want to add this feature to your fencing, I am sure that a local welding and fabrication shop can complete the job for you. Just give them the specifications that you want (perhaps a drawing also), and you can take their product and weld it into your steel fencing with only minor modifications and cutting.
I hope that this article was informative and gives you some insight into the possibilities of using simple rebar in your fencing construction plans. As I mentioned in the first rebar fencing article, the possibilities are endless with this material. These basic constructions should only be considered as a starting point for your imagination and creativity in designing a truly one-of-a-kind steel fence for your home or garden.
Please feel free to post any questions are suggestions concerning rebar fencing in the comment section below. I will be happy to post a response and share information with other rebar builders as soon as possible.