How To Line Up Fence Posts Straight

When building a fence, make sure the posts are straight and aligned properly. Lining up the posts straight helps with the stability of the structure and affects the overall appearance of your fence.

fence posts ready in a straight line

Steps for lining up fence posts straight

Follow these steps to position your fence posts in a straight line -

Step 1: Plan and Measure

Start by planning out your fence line. If you're building a fence around your property, make sure to accurately determine where the property line is.

If you're not sure about utility lines, this is a good time to find out where gas, electric and water lines go.

Measure the total length of the fence and decide where you'll install the fence posts.

Remember to consider the type of fence and the guidelines for post spacing.

Read more: How far apart to place fence posts

Step 2: Install the Corner Posts

The corner posts act as your main reference points, so install them first. Dig the holes, set the corner posts in place, and secure them with concrete or post spikes.

Step 3: Run a Guide String or Use a Laser Level

At this point, you can choose to use a guide string, a chalk line, or a laser level.

If using a string, tie it tightly between the corner posts. This string will serve as your guide to align the rest of your fence posts.

If you're using a chalk line, stretch it from one corner post to the other and snap it to leave a straight line to follow.

If you have a laser level, set it up at one corner post and align it with the other.

Step 4: Mark the Locations of the Other Posts

Measure along your guide (string, chalk line, or laser level) and mark the spots where the other fence posts will go.

Make sure the distances between the posts are equal to maintain a straight line.

Step 5: Install the Remaining Posts

Dig the holes for each of the marked spots, making sure each hole aligns with your guide.

As you place each post, verify it lines up with the string, chalk line, or laser level.

Once aligned, fill the hole with concrete or secure the post with a spike.

Step 6: Double-check Your Work

Once all the posts are in place, view your fence line from various angles to make sure it's straight.

Make any necessary adjustments while the concrete is still wet, or if you've used post spikes, before installing the fence panels.

Step 7: Install Fence Rails and Panels

When you're confident that all posts are straight, install the fence rails and panels. Keep checking the alignment as you go.

When building and aligning a fence, there are several methods to follow. This article aims to simplify the process so you can more easily complete the job. 

Comparing Methods to Line Up Fence Posts: Guide String, Chalk Line, or Laser Level

We compared using a guide string, a chalk line, or a laser level for lining up fence posts:

Guide String

A guide string is a simple tool used to ensure a straight line. It involves tying a string between two points, providing a physical line to guide the placement of your fence posts.

  • Pros:

    • Simple and inexpensive tool.
    • No special skills required.
    • Useful for both short and long distances.

  • Cons:

    • May sag or move, which could impact accuracy.
    • Needs careful alignment to ensure straightness.
    • Requires stable endpoints (corner posts) to attach the string.

Chalk Line

A chalk line tool uses a string covered in colored chalk that, when snapped, leaves a straight line on a surface.

In the case of fence posts, it could be used to mark the line on the ground or even on the posts themselves.

  • Pros:

    • Leaves a visible mark on the ground or posts for reference.
    • More resistant to wind or accidental bumps compared to guide string.
    • Inexpensive and simple to use.

  • Cons:

    • Chalk might fade or get rubbed off during the process.
    • Useful mainly for marking straight lines on flat surfaces.
    • Requires reapplication for each new line if you're working on a large project.

Laser Level

A laser level projects a beam of light that can serve as a highly accurate straight line.

It's an advanced tool that can be used to line up fence posts over long distances and is especially useful in uneven terrain.

  • Pros:

    • Provides a highly accurate straight line.
    • Works well for both short and long distances.
    • Can be used in various lighting conditions, and some models work in bright daylight.

  • Cons:

    • More expensive compared to the other two options.
    • May require some practice or experience to use effectively.
    • Requires a steady base and careful alignment.

There are many types of laser levels. A tripod-based laser level is your best bet when it comes to lining up fence posts straight.

See this laser level on Amazon

Each of these tools can be effective in aligning fence posts, but the choice between them often depends on personal preference, budget, and the specific requirements of your project.

Here's a simplified comparison in table format:

Parameter Guide String Chalk Line Laser Level
Cost Low Low High
Skill Level Low Low Medium
Accuracy Medium High High
Durability Low Medium High
Use Case All Flat Surfaces All

What if my property line is not straight?

New Garden Fence installed

If your yard is angulated or irregularly shaped, you can still construct a fairly uniform fence.

Simply determine and plot the points where it is best to build a straight structure. Using a reference point, measure and mark equal distances that conform to the nature of your yard.

Plan the fence within the allowable territory. For instance, the right side of the lawn border is 50 feet away from the house whereas the opposite end is only 20 feet and the middle portion is 40 feet into the yard.

Place landmarks and interconnect the fence components based on the above steps.

What about keeping boards or pickets straight?

Picket white fence on lawn installed

The next concern is how to keep the boards or pickets upright.

Use a plumb line to determine their verticality, suspend the weight (plumb bob) above each panel, and simply align the sides of your board to the orientation of the downward string.

If the plumb line and fence picket are parallel or fall on the same axis, you may affix them.

Gorgeous Fence installed on a newly built house

Fences need to be aligned to ensure the best overall quality. This can be done by following those simple steps we had mentioned.

If you have found this article helpful, check out these other two topics:

What Type Of Privacy Fence Lasts The Longest?

What Is The Maximum Distance Between Fence Posts?

Gorgeous Fence installed on a newly built house, How To Line Up Fence Posts Straight