Having an open backyard improves aesthetics and creates a sense of spaciousness. Yet sometimes privacy or pet containment are needed on a temporary basis. Installing a retractable fence allows the yard to selectively open or close. With basic DIY skills and the right plans, you can create a custom retractable fence economically.
This guide covers everything required to build a rolling retractable fence yourself. Learn design considerations, material selections, build steps, and installation tips to create movable fencing perfect for controlling yard access.
Benefits of a DIY Retractable Backyard Fence
Retractable fence offers advantages over permanent fixed fencing:
- Flexible yard usage – Open up vistas or enclose space as desired. Roll fence aside for large gatherings or yard work.
- Economical – Do-it-yourself building cuts costs versus hiring a fence contractor. Adjust length to only what you need.
- No visibility intrusion – Fence disappears from view when not needed. Avoid a fenced-in feel.
- Temporary access control – Keep pets or kids safely contained but only when supervision required.
- Weather resistance – Durable materials withstand outdoor exposure when closed.
- Ease of storage – Compactly rolls up against the house when open. Unobtrusive.
With proper construction, a retractable fence provides customized control over your backyard without permanence or high expense.
Design Considerations for Retractable Fences
Consider the optimal specifications for your unique needs:
- Length – Measure total distance needed to span the area. Standard lengths are 75 to 200 feet.
- Height – Pick sufficient height for privacy and pet containment. Around 6 feet is typical.
- Post material – Wood posts or metal pipe anchored in concrete fit most budgets. Ensure strength and rot resistance.
- Fence material – Wood, PVC, welded wire, or chain link. Consider privacy, weight, and weatherability.
- Retracting mechanism – Manual push/pull along a track or motorized automated movement.
- Storage – Will fence retract flush against a wall or store at one end? Ensure room for entire span to stack.
Measure your space carefully and sketch plans to optimize the design. Consider consulting a fencing company for engineering advice.
How to Construct a Retractable Fence DIY Style
Follow this step-by-step guide to building your rolling fence:
Plan and Prepare the Site
- Mark post hole locations based on desired span length and gate openings.
- Contact underground utilities for line marking to avoid puncturing pipes or wires.
- Remove sod and vegetation along installation area.
- Rent an auger or post hole digger to excavate holes for posts.
Set End and Corner Posts
- Anchor heavy-duty 4-6” diameter posts in 30-36” deep concrete footings.
- Ensure posts are perfectly plumb using a level. Brace while concrete sets.
- Allow several days for concrete to fully cure before applying fence tension.
Install Intermediate Posts
- Set intermediate guide posts in concrete at 8-10’ intervals along span.
- Size and depth depends on fence weight. Follow local code specs.
- Use string line between posts to ensure perfect alignment.
Attach Rail and Roller System
- Mount horizontal top and bottom rails along moving fence length.
- Attach roller pipe assemblies at each intermediate post.
- Ensure rollers spin freely to support moving fence.
Install Fencing Material
- For solid panels, attach wood, PVC, or other sheeting material with sturdy fasteners.
- For wire or chain link, install tension bars and tie-wrap fencing to rails securely.
- Keep material aligned as you fasten to prevent sagging when extended.
- Connect locking door latches to keep fencing sealed at corners.
- Test rolling the fence out and back without resistance or binding.
- Add lubricant to rollers or adjust to remove any friction or snagging.
- Seal any wood surfaces and paint to protect against weathering.
- Install protective railing or covers over stacked retracted fence.
- Add a motorized operator if desired for push-button opening and closing.
With good planning and proper installation, you can construct a smooth operating retractable fence yourself at significant cost savings. Enjoy the flexibility it provides!
What are the Best Materials for DIY Retractable Fences?
Choosing durable, weather-resistant components ensures a long-lasting rolling fence:
- Pressure-treated wood – Budget-friendly and easily installed. Requires periodic sealing.
- Galvanized steel pipe – Withstands moisture with minimal maintenance required. Rougher concrete installation.
- Concrete – Poured footings provide maximum strength but lack flexibility if impacted.
- Pressure-treated wood – Provides full privacy. Seal regularly against warping. Heavy.
- PVC – Lightweight and low-maintenance. Withstands moisture. Pricier than wood.
- Chain link – Allows visibility and wind flow. Galvanized finish prevents rust. Dogs can see out.
- Welded wire – Like chain link but with smaller grid pattern. Provides added pet containment.
- Aluminum privacy slats – Block views when closed but allow airflow. Durable and lightweight.
Assess your privacy needs, wind load, and DIY skills when selecting fence materials.
What is Required to Automate a Retractable Fence?
Tired of pushing the fence open and closed manually? Consider automating:
Solar motor kit – Attach a solar-powered electric motor to drive the retraction automatically via remote control.
Control panel – Lets users open/close with the press of a button. Can integrate home automation.
Safety sensors – Detect obstructions like pets or people so unit stops before impact.
Backup battery – Provides power if solar charging is insufficient to drive motor.
Concrete mounting – Securely anchors motor shaft and concrete pad to handle fence tensioning forces.
Automating adds convenience but also significant cost. Determine if automation is worth the investment based on frequency of fence usage.
Tips for Getting Retractable Fence Gates Perfect
Gates present some special challenges on rolling fences:
- Use heavy duty gate hinges to withstand tension forces without sagging over time.
- Allow 1/4″-1/2″ spacing under gates for flat operation across potential ground unevenness.
- Install self-closing gate hardware for positive latching after every use. Magnet latches work well.
- Adjust gate roller spacing to eliminate any twisting or binding when retracting.
- If automating, motorize just one gate rather than both for simplicity.
Take care to integrate gates seamlessly into your retractable fence span.
Is a Permit Needed to Install a Retractable Fence?
- Research your local zoning laws and homeowner’s association rules for any restrictions on retractable fencing. Some prohibit temporary fencing.
- Building permits are often not required for DIY fences under 6 feet high. But codes vary by location. Check with your city or county.
- Even if no permit is technically required, consider having plans reviewed by the zoning office to avoid any violations.
- Easements for utilities may impose limits on fence proximity or post hole depth along the easement.
Doing due diligence avoids headaches from installing an illegal fence. Plan ahead and get any necessary approvals.
Building a customized retractable fence lets you control backyard access and views without permanence. Follow sound construction techniques and select durable materials to create a rolling fence that provides flexibility and functionality for years to come. Enjoy the expanded possibilities a DIY retractable fence creates in your yard!
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