How to set fence posts

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Old 08-11-08, 05:16 AM
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How to set fence posts

What is the proper way to set 4x4 wood fence posts? I have heard concrete or gravel... or both? I live outside Chicago and have a moist top soil and clay type ground in my back yard. This will be a dog fence, and I am thinking I will use pre built panels from Menards. Any opinions on the $20 cheapie panels? I don't mind occasional repairs since it will save about $400. We can replace the fence in a few years, but I 'd like the posts to last a good long while.

What is the best and proper way to set the posts? What about sealing the lower halfs ?
 
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Old 08-11-08, 10:15 AM
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Sorry for being antsy! I am having another guy come to the house today to give me a quote. The last guy, from a real nice proper company, gave me a quote for $2700. Thats a little steep, but I am finding that even minimal materials to build my own is going to be around $1000-$1500. What to do, what to do?
 
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Old 08-11-08, 01:40 PM
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Typical for many contractors would be seeing their price for an installation is double if not very close to double the price of materials. Most times the extreme number satisfies labor and problems that may or may not arise on the work site.
So , $2700.00 for a material list that would cost you anywhere between 1000 and 1500 is not that bad.

As for proper installation... wet soil, and I am assuming a water table,...

Go by the book. Use a gravel base. This will help the water from building up under the posts.
You could cement the posts, but if your ground is wet, and you have climates that go under freezing you would find the posts being heaved out of the ground every time the ground wants to push.
I would use the gravel base and tamp the posts. At least that way you can tamp them again if need be.
Of course might want to cement the gate posts if any.It is not necessary to do so, but it makes life a little easier.

If you are a handy type of person, install the fence yourself.

Good luck.

Greg~
 
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Old 08-12-08, 05:39 AM
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OK, Here is what I have decided-
We went to Menards and got a pretty complete material list, except gates and gravel (but including cement), and that was about $1700. Auger rental, gravel, gates, beer for my buddies... At least $2200 if not more.

I had another company, Express Fence, come and quote the same fence (4' cedar picket) for $1885. Standard here is 3' deep- all cement, but he is going to add a 4" gravel base for an additional $75. Total installed cost $1940. Not Bad at all! Cheaper than my materials n' such. Can't beat it, so I took it. They start this friday (compared to 2 weeks for the $2700 company). I will take a day off to watch them drill and set the posts. Everything else I can see later.
 
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Old 08-15-08, 04:07 PM
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Treating the Post

If I place the post on a gravel base and tamp it in, is there a recommended treatment (sealer, etc.) for the post to make it last longer? Is there a treatment for just the below-grade part?

I am down South, so termites and other ground-dwelling critters are a problem.

I only have one post, and it is strictly decorative. So, even a normally expensive treatment might be OK.

Thanks,
 
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Old 08-18-08, 08:39 AM
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All natural Cedar posts sounds like a better option than chemical treatments

Years ago, some folks used to use old motor oil to treat posts...Some folks used tar or even old stains that they had laying around... Those ideas are part of history now. As for the tar, It works, but it is very messy job. and the oils in the tar are no longer something anyone wants seeping into our water systems. If your down south you or someone else nearby may have well water... putting any type of chemical in the ground is not a good practice.
As for the posts, they are pressure treated. Most insects do not like the chemicals that are used in pressure treating process. In fact, when cutting pressure treated posts it is recommended that you wear some sort of mask, or breathing apparatus while doing so...
Anyway , If you care to protect your posts, perhaps you may want to explore the idea of installing Cedar posts. They are more expensive, but well worth the money in regards to being insect resistant. Plus cedar posts have a tendancy of making the fence look "rich" in style.
That is just my opinion of course. Everyone has their own opinion about the cost verse's the means.
But Cedar resists bugs , and that part is for sure. Cedar is also "all natural" and it can not harm your enviorment .So that is good... Cedar, also looks nice, warm , and enviting.
Given your cedar spaced picket and installing cedar posts... you will have a very nice look for your front and rear yard.
You can buy those cedar posts just standard cuts "Flat top" or for a few dollars more you can have them custom made to have a cut top.
Or , if you like you can just make them a little custom yourself with giving them a bevel cut all the way around on the top... This would give them the dogear look.
If you do not go for the custom look all the way around your yard, I would suggest your using a custom post or cap on the entry of the yard.
Custom posts or post caps usually enhance the gate opening.


Good Luck!
 
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Old 08-21-08, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Milemaker13 View Post
What is the proper way to set 4x4 wood fence posts?
My experience replacing the same post more than once indicates there is no proper way to set a 4x4 wood post.

After replacing several rotted wood posts with new wood posts that soon met the same fate, I tried digging out the rotten wood and mounting a vinyl post in the same square hole in the old concrete. This turned out to be more work than just replacing the concrete and post, and one of the vinyl posts is a leaner.

I recently tried something different: bought 8-foot 2.375-inch diameter round steel posts and brackets to attach 2x4 wood rail to the metal post, etc. The pickets and rails of the 6-foot fence don't need to be replaced yet, so I had to spot the new posts exactly where the old ones were. I dreaded removing the old concrete, but it turned out to be easy with a "slate bar". Using a manual post-hole digger, I deepened the existing holes to 30 inches and set the new posts with 80 pounds of concrete each. My hope is that the metal posts will far outlast the wood posts.
 
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Old 08-22-08, 12:16 PM
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Setting Posts

As for the best way to set posts it depends on your weather conditions and type of fence(wind load).
Typically the hole itself needs to be under the frost line, in Mi it is 42".
The buried portion of the post should be about one half the exposed length, for ex: 6' fence should have 3' buried.
I believe in digging a 10"-12" diameter hole for a 4x4 post. Set the pole on a few inches of crushed gravel then fill the hole around the pole with the crushed gravel, tamping each 5" increment of gravel added.
You can fill to surface with gravel or add 5" or 6" of top soil if you want vegetation around pole.
Crushed gravel will be every bit as sturdy for the base of the pole as concrete but will not result in snapping of pole if load ever becomes an issue. The pole will also be able to be repaired much easier if ever need be.
 
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