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How perfect does post aligment have to be? and other ???

How perfect does post aligment have to be? and other ???


Old 07-10-18, 07:44 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 17
How perfect does post aligment have to be? and other ???

Hello Everyone. Sorry for the long post but I don't have anyone else to ask about fences.

I was planning to upgrade to a 6 ft chain link from a 4. I was going to hire it out but couldn't find a good knowledgeable contractor to deal with.

Its suggested to put posts about 40" down to stay below the frost line. I noticed after removing the old chain link installed by a pro that corner posts were only down about 18"! Seems this is due to attaching the hardware. Most places around here don't even carry 8 foot poles and it seems they should actually be 8 .5 feet. The chain link stuff looks like junk at local stores and had white rust spots all over it.

I've settled on a wooden fence since 10 foot posts are readily available and I wanted to avoid concrete for easier repairs and longevity. I put them down 42" and packed rocks and dirt around it with a 2x4. They feel very solid but probably loosen up a bit if the soil is saturated with rain.

I guess my question is how perfect does post alignment have to be? With tamping it can be tough to keep them all plumb and perfect to the line. Some might be off 1/2 inch or so and then a few of the posts are bowed a bit. When sighting down the line you can tell the rails curve in at one point and I'm thinking of picking up a 1x4 to shim up rails at these spots before I start putting up pickets. I'm screwing rails to the face of the 4x4. I'm doing the best I can and figure it won't be perfect with wood that warps.

I also have my posts spaced 6' feet apart as I wanted to add more strength being set in dirt. My other question is how much does picket spacing help with wind load? close to the house I might only space 1/8 of a inch for privacy but further out I wanted to space the pickets 1.5 ". In my research this seems to help reduce leaning fences from wind?

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Old 07-11-18, 05:43 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 18,298
It's a judgement call depending on how straight you want the wall to be. Over time the posts will warp and move some with changes in humidity so absolutely perfect is almost impossible to achieve.

As for posts set in compacted crushed stone or earth. I've never had trouble with them loosening. When someone backs into them with a car the post breaks but the stub remains firmly anchored in the ground.

Gaps between the boards will help with wind loading. I would not vary the spacing unless you do a uniform pattern along the entire fence. Changing the spacing along the fence will just make it look like you tried to skimp on wood by spacing them out. As far as how much gaps help with wind load thing about the amount of solid versus open area of the fence.
Old 07-12-18, 03:16 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 17
that was very helpful thank you.

I set the 2 corners first and ran a string along the bottom. I used a screw to hold the line slightly away from the posts to keep it from getting distended. However I think this caused me to set some posts further back. Some simply refused to go exactly where I wanted them with tamping.

Its amazing how much a little slack in the string or something pushing it out can affect everything. I also have a hard time telling if the 2x4's are warped until they are fastened up and I sight down the line.

When I do the other sections I'm going to use a line at top and bottom and try to do better with my accuracy. I will also keep the picket spacing uniform.

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