Garden Advice

Best Way to Install Wood Fence Posts

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There is no doubt that a sturdy fence needs sturdy posts, especially if you’re about to install wooden ones. The best way to install wood fence posts depends on many things, such as wood type, soil type, drainage and pre-treatment of the wood itself. 

So, if you:

  • wonder about how to put up a fence with wooden posts;
  • want to replace an old wooden fence post;
  • want to learn the best fence post installation practices;

Then read on and you’ll learn how to install wooden posts for your gate or fence: 

How to install wooden gate posts

Before putting in wooden fence posts, make sure you’re familiar with your soil type. If it is dense and well-draining, then you will be able to install a wood fence post directly in it. However, if your soil is more clayey or sandy like, you’ll need some concrete for stability.

Installing wooden fence posts with concrete

  1. Choose durable and suitable posts

    In both cases, you’ll need to pick the right posts that are specified as suitable for ground contact, as not all of them are designed for burial. We recommend you invest in durable heartwood that besides sturdiness tends to be insect-resistant.

  2. Pre-treat them against moisture

    That step is optional, but we highly recommend it to people living in a damp climate, since the sawn-off ends of the posts are prone to moisture damage. Dip each end of the wooden posts in a wood preservative, which contains copper naphthenate and is non-water-based.

  3. Prepare the holes

    When fitting wooden fence posts, always dig a wider hole. A standard wooden fence needs approximately 30cm of concrete across it, so keep that in mind. Also, you’ll need to bury ⅓ of the post by leaving a few inches for the base beneath it.

  4. Add your base

    Put around 15 cm of aggregate into the hole and tamp it thoroughly. You can use gravel or crushed stones. That will improve drainage.

  5. Install your wooden posts

    Now that your base is ready, stand the wooden post in the middle of the hole by placing two stakes into the two sides of the post. That will hold the posts in their place when you start pouring in the concrete. For even more improved drainage, add another layer of gravel.

  6. Pour in the concrete

    Fill the holes with concrete by shovelling it up to 2-3 inches above the soil. Make sure you’re fast enough, so there is no chance of the concrete to harden up too quickly. Be careful and try not to splash cement onto the posts as that won’t look great once your fence is installed.

  7. Slope the top

    Grab a trowel and smooth out the top by making a slope outwards from the post. That will ensure that rainwater runs out from the post and there is no risk from decay. Let the concrete dry for a couple of days and harden up before putting up your fence.

  8. Seal up

    Get a high-quality exterior caulk or silicon appropriate for concrete. Seal the gaps around the posts and concrete since there is a great chance of them expanding, due to freeze and thaw cycles. When that happens, water enters the post’s base and may cause rotting.

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Installing wooden fence posts directly in soil

This wooden fence post installation method is more unstable but still prefered by many homeowners because it’s still decay-resistant but cheaper, of course. The main rule is to have dense soil with good drainage.

  • Pre-treat with preservatives
  • Same as with the concrete technique, you should start by treating your posts with preservatives against moisture. Make sure that you’re applying a few layers, by following all safety instructions, as wood preservatives are toxic. Note that, after each layer, you’ll need to let them dry completely for 24 hours.

  • Dig the post holes
  • When putting up a fence with wooden posts without concrete, you have two options. The first one is to anchor the posts directly in soil and the second one is to anchor them in gravel. The holes diameter will depend on which method you plan to go with. For instance, in the first case, the hole should be as tight as possible so that the post stays in place. However, if you’re planning to anchor the wooden posts with gravel, then you better leave some space for it and dig a bit wider hole, which is approximately 20cm in diameter.

  • Keep in mind drainage
  • That step is crucial if you have poor soil drainage, so add a few centimetres of drainage-improving material into the hole, such as crushed stones or pea gravel and tamp down well.

  • Place the posts
  • When positioning the posts, you’ll have to make sure that they’re right in the centre of the hole and in line with the other ones. You can ease your job by hammering wooden stakes into the ground on two sides of each post.

  • Start filling the holes
  • Now that the wooden posts are stable and in the right place and position, you can start filling the holes with crushed stones or soil. Once again, we recommend that you opt for crushed stones, as they will not only improve drainage but will enhance the stability of your posts, as well. No matter the filling material, tamp thoroughly after each batch. Note that if you’re a lawn owner and would like your grass to grow again at the base of the post, you’ll need to use soil for the last batch, not gravel.

  • Build a slope
  • Same as with the concrete method, you’ll need to slope the base to improve drainage, but this time with the soil itself.

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Need professional help with your fence installation?

Fence post installation is not rocket science but some folks need assistance, in order to achieve the desired results. So, if you’re not sure about your DIY skills or don’t feel like doing the task by yourself, you can always rely on our professional fence installation services. We can provide you with high-quality materials and various posts, boards and fence types.

Need a professional?

Find a landscaping expert to install your wooden posts!

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  • Poor drainage, low-quality wood and skipped pre-treatment will lead to early failure of your wooden fence post installation project.
  • If possible, opt for concrete bases for your wooden posts to ensure that your fence is more stable.
  • When choosing wooden fence posts, look out for the “suitable for ground contact” label.

Did you like our post? Do you have any other wooden fence post installation tips? Then, please, let us know by leaving a comment!

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