It's time to start installing your fence. You've surveyed the land to make sure that there are no wires, pipes or abnormal slopes where your fence will be going, and you're ready to get started. Now it's time for the tough part, getting your fence post right.
Getting your fence post right is one of, if not THE most important part of installing a new fence. If the fence posts fail, then the rest of the fence is going to fail as well. This means that it is absolutely crucial to take a little extra time and set your fence posts correctly.
Now it may sound scary, but getting your fence post right is actually quite simple. However, to ensure that your fence has long-lasting results and is pleasing to the eye, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you avoid some potentially disastrous pitfalls.
While this may not sound like a huge deal, keep in mind that different types of wood offer different types of fence post performance. For example, a pressure-treated wood fence post will increase both affordability and durability. Or you can go the redwood, cedar or cypress fence post route. While these are more expensive choices, they are generally a more naturally resistant and more beautiful option.
A general rule of thumb is to opt for denser, darker heartwood, as opposed to a lighter-colored, younger sapwood. This is due in part to the heartwood having better defenses naturally when it comes to wood-boring insects. No matter which type of wood you ultimately decide to go with, be sure that it is all suitable for in the ground applications.
Depending upon any ordinances or building codes, there may be some type of legal diameter and depth for any fence post holes. To make sure that posts are lodged below the frost line, the fence post hole needs to be deep enough for the bottom third of your fence post to be below ground. As for the diameter of the post hole, it should be roughly three times what the width of the fence post is.
You also want to remember that the post hole must be barrel-shaped and flat on the sides. This will help the hole to maintain a consistent diameter throughout. The best way to do this is to use a posthole digger. If you plan on using a regular shovel, your post hole will come out in a cone-shape.
The best way to set your fence post in its hole is to add pea gravel or some other type of crushed stone mixture to the bottom of your hole. Once you have about three inches or so in your hole, use an extra piece of wood or some other device to tamp that layer down. Once this is done, repeat the same process with about three inches of gravel. While this may sound excessive, it will help any rainwaters drain off into the soil, protecting your fence.
Next, mix your quick-dry cement and fill in the rest of the hole. Be sure to pack the cement to a level that is slightly above the surrounding surface level. This will prevent any fluid collection around the post and keep water away. While many have their opinion about dry vs. wet cement for posts, it is ultimately the builder's preference, but in most cases, a quick-dry cement will be the best option.
Once the concrete hardens, your fence post is set, and you can continue on with the rest of your fence. Just be sure to keep these simple tips in mind while you build your fence, and you'll be finished in no time.