How to Install a Vinyl Fence: Step-by-Step Guide

Don't miss the only guide you'll need to install a new vinyl fence!
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
August 22, 2023

What You’ll Need

There are some basic supplies you need in order to install a vinyl fence.


Ropes (or spray paint)

Tape measure


Vinyl fence panels

Vinyl fence posts

Post hole digger (or power auger)



Vinyl gate kit (optional)

Preparing for Installation

Check Local Regulations and Permits

Before you begin your vinyl fence home improvement project, you should first make sure that the fence you are building is allowed. You will need to check your local municipal rules as well as your HOA rules if you are part of one. Many times, fence heights are regulated by cities - with front yard fences needing to be four feet tall or less and backyard fences needing to be six feet tall or less. While you are on the line checking your local zoning laws, you can also check to see if you need to get a permit for building a fence.

Choose Your Vinyl Fence Style

Once you have confirmation that building a vinyl fence is allowed on your property, you will need to choose a style. For shorter, front yard fences there is always the classic vinyl picket fence style. You can get this in the traditional white vinyl color as well. For something a little different, but also a lower height fence, try a ranch style rail fence. With a ranch style fence there are horizontal rails instead of vertical pickets. Finally, the vinyl fence style most commonly used by homeowners is the vinyl privacy fence.

Contact the Utility Company

There is nothing worse than digging a post hole and running into an underground utility line. This can not only damage the line, but cause injury or even death to the person who hits it. So step one of a fence building project is calling your local “Call Before You Dig” line and make sure you are not planning to dig anywhere that would be dangerous. If there are lines under your property, they will come out and clearly mark them so you do not run into any utility lines during your DIY vinyl fence project!

10 Steps to Install Your Vinyl Fence

Step 1. Measuring and Marking the Fence Line

Once you have all of your tools and vinyl fence panels and vinyl fence posts, and you have done your prep work to make sure it is safe to begin building, your first step is to measure and mark the fence line. You can mark this along your property line or it can be somewhere else. For this step, you will need stakes and ropes. Mark the corner or end posts first, and string a rope tightly from end to end, even with the outside of the posts. Instead of rope, you can also use spray paint to mark the line of the fence. From there, mark the locations of the line posts - the posts in between the end posts - according to the style of fence you have and the length of the vinyl fence panels, rails, or pickets.

Step 2. Digging Post Holes

Now that you have your post locations marked, you can start digging - yay! To dig holes, the process is made much easier with a power auger, but is also manageable with a post hole digger. You can use a shovel if absolutely necessary but it will require a lot more elbow grease. If you do not have one of the other tools on hand, see if you can rent one from a store in town. The depth of your post hole will depend on the height of your post. The rule of thumb here is to dig a post hole that is one third of the height of your fence post.

Step 3. Setting and Leveling the Posts

Once your post holes are all dug out, you are ready to set and level your vinyl fence posts. You will want to add an extra 6 inches of gravel at the bottom of the hole for a gravel base and to allow for proper drainage under the concrete. To install posts, set the posts in the gravel and use a level to ensure that the posts are plumb. Once you have all of the posts set in the post holes, go back through them to double check that they are still level and have not settled in any way that makes them not level.

Step 4. Securing the Posts with Concrete

Just like a wood fence, a vinyl fence needs concrete as well to secure the posts. Pour the concrete into the post holes over the gravel base. Make sure that you stop pouring about 6 inches below surface level to add soil and grass if you want the post bases to match the rest of your yard and not be circles of concrete. Use a trough or small shovel to shape the concrete at the base of the fence posts so that it slopes down away from the post and water will not pool there. As the vinyl fence posts settle in the concrete, you will need to go back through every post with your level and make sure that they are still plumb.

Step 5. Measuring and Cutting Fence Panels

Hopefully, you bought a vinyl fence kit that had fence panels already cut to the lengths you want, and you set your posts apart by that same length. However, if you have generic fence panels or you need them to be a different length, you will need to measure and cut the fence panels to fit with the locations of your fence posts. Use a tape measure to get the exact length between fence posts and then compare with the length of your fence panels. If it is not the same, you will need to use a circular saw to cut the fence panel to match.

Step 6. Installing the Bottom Rail

Before you attach the fence panels to your posts, you will need to install the bottom rail of your vinyl privacy fence if these are included in your fence materials. If the rails do not snap into place, you may need screws and a screwdriver for this step. You may even need a cordless drill to pre-drill the holes for the screws if there are not already holes for this step. Next, you simply attach the rails to the posts in the ground.

Step 7. Attaching Panels to the Posts

Now that you have your posts set, and your bottom rail attached, you can get started with your vinyl fence panels. Most vinyl fence kits have parts that snap together, almost like building with Legos. You have already checked that the panels are the correct lengths to fit between the posts, so now you can install them. Install one panel at a time, and get out your best friend - your level - to make sure that each panel is plumb before you move on to the next one. Use a block and a hammer to hammer down posts that are too high. This is easier to do as you go than to wait until the end of the process when the concrete might have hardened.

Step 8. Installing the Top Rail and Caps

At this point, you should have all of your fence posts, your bottom rail, and your vinyl fence panels installed and level. If you need to do any more adjusting to make sure things are properly plumb and fit together correctly, now is the time. Once you are confident that the other pieces are installed right, you can move on to the final steps in your fence construction! Install the top rail like you did with the bottom rail. And if you have any decorative caps to put on top of the fence posts, you can do that now as well. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to attach the post caps on the post tops.

Step 9. Installing Gates

Once you have your fence constructed, it is time to install the gate if you want one for access. First, install the gate posts. Fence gates usually come in fence gate kits, no matter whether it is a wood fence, a metal fence, or a vinyl fence. You will have already plotted out the gap you needed for your gate, so all you will need to do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install your vinyl fence gate.

Step 10. Adding Latches and Locks

Now that you have your vinyl fence installed, gate and all if you wanted one, it is time for the finishing touches. These are typically decorative but some are more important, like locks. Put a lock on your gate to keep strangers out of your property and install, yes you guessed it, according to manufacturer’s instructions. Same goes for latches and any other decorative hardware you choose to install.

Vinyl Fence Maintenance and Care

Vinyl fences are known to be very low maintenance. In fact, you do not have to do any maintenance if you do not want to. But for those who want their vinyl fence to look its best and last as long as possible.

Cleaning Your Vinyl Fence

To clean your vinyl fence, all you will need is a regular garden hose. You can also use a power washer if you want to, but it is usually not necessary. Wash off your vinyl fence when it starts looking dirty, but also wash it off regularly even if you do not see any dirt on it. This is necessary to prevent any algae or mold build up on your new fence! Mold and mildew can negatively impact the appearance of your fence. When even a power washer does not remove it, use a little bleach or vinegar.

Repairing Damaged Sections

Repair damaged sections of your vinyl fence as soon as you notice them. Plan out a regular maintenance inspection schedule so that you can be aware of any damage as soon as it happens. If you repair the damage early, you can prevent the damage from getting any worse or spread to undamaged sections of the vinyl fence. Scratches and dents can be fixed with a vinyl fence patch kit.

Enhancing Durability and Longevity

Although vinyl fences have a very long lifespan compared to a wood fence, they do wear down over the decades. But one way to slow down this process is to carry out regular maintenance on the fence. One part of this is to keep your vinyl fence clean by regularly spraying it off with a garden hose or a power hose, or using bleach or vinegar to clean off any stubborn mold and mildew. Finally, repair any damage as soon as you notice it to stop it from getting any worse or spreading to other sections of the fence.

Installation Tips for Your Vinyl Fence

Ensure Proper Spacing Between Posts

Taking the time to properly measure the space between your vinyl fence posts is a very important early step. This will prevent problems down the line. Not only do you want an accurately measured space that will fit your vinyl fence panel correctly, but you want those fence panels to be at a length that allows them to bend instead of break. . If you install the fence posts too closely together, then the fence panels or rails will be too rigid.

Install the Corner Fence Post First

When you are beginning your DIY vinyl fence installation home improvement project, you should install the corner posts or end posts first. From there, you can see better how to properly space your line vinyl posts.

Use a Level and String Line for Accurate Alignment

At every step of installation, you will want your level handy. This starts with the fence posts, as you will need to ensure the posts are plumb. Next, when you install your bottom rail, you will need your level again, or level string line, to make sure that the rail is plumb. When you check this along the way, you have time to adjust things before the concrete sets.

Leave a Gap for Expansion and Contraction of the Vinyl Panels

Vinyl needs room to move in windy conditions, or to expand or contract depending on the weather conditions. Even just getting sunlight on a normal day may cause a vinyl fence to expand. Leave a small gap, of less than a quarter of an inch, to allow for the expansion and contraction of vinyl panels.

Consider Adding Gravel at the Bottom of Post Holes for Drainage

Adding gravel at the bottom of your post holes is a great idea for a couple of reasons. One is that when you put about 6 inches of gravel in the bottom of the post hole, you can put a post in and it may stand up a little straighter as you add the concrete. The second reason is that it allows for proper drainage at the bottom of the post hole.

Vinyl Fence Installation FAQs

Do I need a permit to install a DIY vinyl fence?

The answer to this question depends on whether your local municipality or HOA, if you are a member of one, has any rules about permits. You should always check with your building inspectors office or city hall to find out if there are any rules about installing fences where you live.

Do vinyl fence posts need concrete?

Vinyl fence posts, just like wood fence posts, do need concrete. Once you have dug your post holes, and added some gravel at the bottom if you have chosen to, you will need to fill in the hole around the post hole with concrete. Leave about 6 inches of room on the top if you would like to put soil and grass over the post hole.

Can I install a vinyl fence on uneven ground?

You can most definitely install a vinyl fence on uneven ground. Depending on the style of your vinyl fence it may not be gradually and evenly sloped up, or down, but instead may have more of a chunky look as one entire section of fence panel will be higher, or lower, than the next one. It will require careful measurement and planning, but it can definitely be done.

Is vinyl fence easier to install?

Vinyl fences can sometimes be easier to install than a traditional wood fence. That is because in many cases, vinyl fences come in kits in which the pieces snap together like Legos. Normally, fences require drills and screws and other types of tools and materials to join the different pieces and sections of fence.

What are the benefits of vinyl fences?

Vinyl fences have many advantages over wood fences. They come in many colors and do not require painting or staining to keep true to their original color over the years. The only maintenance you will need to do to keep your vinyl fence looking its best is to clean it off from time to time. Finally, vinyl - or pvc - fences last longer than other types of fences like wood fences.

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