Created on: February 18, 2013
Building your own privacy fence can save you significantly on the installation costs. A fence can also add to the value of your home and keep children or pets safe. Putting up fence posts is labor intensive but not really difficult. There are some DIY tips that can help you get the job done a bit more easily.
-Post hole digger and small shovel
-Level and plumb bob
-String or plastic tape
-Quick setting concrete
Your first steps in setting a fence
Always double check your property lines before you decide to add a fence. You may need to contact your city or county building department to determine if there are any regulations. In some cases, utility access must be available. You do not want to have to tear your fence back down. Before you dig, you also want to ensure that there are no underground utilities that may be damaged.
Measure the distance for your fence and purchase the appropriate wood. Wood should be treated for resistance to rot and termites and approved for ground contact. When you make measurements and mark the post locations, remember to measure on center. If you are planning 8-foot sections on 4-by-4 posts, measure 8 feet from the center of each post location.
Run a visible string or plastic tape, about 6 feet above the ground, from where your fence will be starting to where it will end, preferably marking the front face of the post. Most communities require that the visible post section be toward the owner’s side. You can use chalk to make the same line along the ground and also mark the center of each fence post.
Setting your fence posts
Plan to dig holes that are between 10 and 12 inches in diameter. This allows enough room for concrete and backfill. The holes should also be 4 to 6 inches deeper than the depth you plan to set the post. Post should be set with about one-third of their length into the ground. To have 6 feet of post above ground, you should use a 9-foot post.
The very bottom of your hole will need a 4- to 6-inch layer of gravel. Gravel will allow water to drain away from the post. Set your post into the hole and make sure that it aligns with the string, establishing either the back or front face of the fence. Check the plumb or level of the post, ensuring that it is straight. Check that it is not leaning to one side or to toward the back or front.
Once you are sure the post is plumb and level and the correct height, pour in the dry concrete mix. Make sure the concrete surrounds the post completely. Add water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a bracing system for the post to hold it in place while the concrete dries. You can backfill the hole to ground level once the concrete is fully wet. Extra strength can be added by bringing the concrete slightly above ground level and gently sloping it away from the post.
Tips for easier post setting
Cinderblocks or stakes can be used to brace your fence posts while the concrete is setting. Check the level one extra time, about 30 minutes after wetting the concrete, to ensure the post has not moved. If you have plastic containers 6 inches or so in diameter, they can be used inside the post hole for greater protection and stability. You will need to fill concrete into the container, around the post, and continue to fill the hole around the container.
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