If you’re an ambitious do-it-yourselfer tackling your first fence build, setting the posts can seem like an arduous and never-ending task. Yet for the long-term stability of your fence, it is one of the most important you will perform.
Regardless of the scope of your wood or vinyl fencing project, properly set posts will help lengthen the life of your fence, reduce maintenance down the road and make the rest of your fence build go much more easily. Here are some expert tips for setting fence posts that won’t leave your new fence cracked or sagging:
1. Do some prep work. Pound stakes into the ground where each post will go, and run a string around the perimeter of your fence to identify any potential obstructions. This will help you avoid unpleasant surprises after you’ve invested a bunch of time into your project.
2. Dig the holes. Once you’re satisfied, remove the stakes and use an auger to dig your holes at least two feet deep. (Make sure the the posts you buy or cut are long enough to accommodate the additional height of the hole.) Most wood fences require support posts set about eight feet apart. If you’re building a vinyl fence, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as almost every style of vinyl fencing has its own specific post spacing.
3. Insert your posts. We recommend using pre-mixed concrete to dry set the posts, and then watering it down. Pour in just enough concrete to fill the hole, as freezing temperatures can cause excess concrete to be pushed up by the ground, severely damaging the fence’s stability. Check each post with a level and make any necessary adjustments before the concrete sets.
4. Clean your tools immediately. Concrete doesn’t dry right away, but when it does it is a pain to remove. Clean any tools that have come in contact with the cement immediately after use and dump any waste water in an inconspicuous part of your yard. Do not dump the waste water down a drain – the excess cement can clog pipes and sewers.