Metal Posts vs Wood Posts

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Old 05-11-16, 09:02 AM
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Metal Posts vs Wood Posts

I am installing a stockade fence. (I had another post about this but I cant find it now--but this is a different question anyway)

My main concern was warping of the pressure treated 4x4 posts as I have seen them warp before and they generally look terrible when they do.

So, I figured I would go with (http://contractors.masterhalco.com/C...PostMaster.pdf)

Not a big difference in price that I am concerned with.

But, one of the things I have read on so many posts is that one of the benefits of using metal posts is that the wood rots. Then other posters chime in and agree with all kinds of scenarios and stories.

But, I dont get it. When do pressure treated posts rot??

I have posts in a section of fence that was up 10 years before I bought the house 15 years ago and they are all perfectly solid (do not know if there was cement or not used)

But what is the deal? Do you expect 4x4 posts to rot? I cant imagine anyone is using non-PT. It makes me wonder if I should just stick with wood... of course there is still the warping issue.

With the metal, I think I also get to drill smaller holes and maybe can use an auger attached to a electric drill?

Post Hole Auger | Post Hole Drill Augers | Custom Augers

This would also save space as I am up against a neighbors fence.

Any thoughts?
 
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Old 05-11-16, 10:13 AM
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It all depends on a number of factors such as type of soil, if they are set in dirt, gravel, or concrete. People here seem to believe cedar won't rot but I have replaced a lot of cedar. I'm just lazy. I'd used galvanized because I'm too lazy to take a chance on treated.
 
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Old 05-11-16, 01:01 PM
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It depends on how the PT post was treated, among other things like where you are located. NY is in wood rot zone 2 which is not bad (rated moderate). So you can expect to get longer life from a PT post in NY than if you were in the deep south.

You can get posts at a lumber yard that are treated for ground contact and direct burial (UC4B?). They will last a long time. I would have no problem using posts treated for ground contact.

I think most of the posts at big boxes are treated at a level to withstand exposure but not ground contact.

I have 3 PT posts that are 30 years old and are as solid as when I installed them. Last year I ripped PT 2X4's from a big box to use as posts for a garden trellis. I took them down this spring because they were already rotted where they entered the ground.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 07:42 AM
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Anyone ever try this for fence posts?

WamBam Fence Big Bertha 27 lb. Steel Post Pounder-MS62001 - The Home Depot

I figured metal fence posts needed to be secured with concrete. Is this jst as good?

I am really trying to make this as easy as possible due to lower back issues.

But I am wondering if an old fashioned clamshell digger would be best.

The gas powered, i am reading, create a lot of torque--not something I want to brace agasint.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 09:17 AM
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I'd think a post pounder would be hard on your back.
The gas powered, i am reading, create a lot of torque--not something I want to brace agasint.
I'd think that would be a problem with the ones that are hand held. Others that are not hand held might be easiest.

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Old 05-12-16, 03:08 PM
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I just dug one hole with a clamshell digger. No problem to get down 2.5 to 3 feet. I have relatively sandy soil and my back feels fine. So I will dig them by hand.

Now, the issue is whethere to use wood or metal.

With wood, I would not use concrete.

for metal, I would want the Postmaster post mentioned above and use concrete. But, now that add concrete to the job.

Additionally, I have no good way to secure the panels to the posts if they are wooden. Neighbor is a massive jerk and I cant go in his property (this is on the property line) and my fence will be back to back with his fence.

The postmaster metal posts resolve this becuase they have a tab the runs the lenght with holes to screw into. Although I need to travel an hour each way to pick them up.

With wood, I can use brackets I suppose, if I could find the right ones, but I dont think it would look so great.

I can use round metal posts with brackets, but the look on that isnt so great either.

With wood, I suppose I could drill through the posts and carriage bolt the panels, working from my side. But them i am drilling 6 holes in each post... would that add to the possibility of warping?

This decision making is really beginning to frustrate me because I just dont feel like I have any good options.

any thoughts on how you guys would handle this?
 
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Old 05-12-16, 03:17 PM
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I have a homemade post pounder with a false section at the head which is filled with lead. Super heavy, but easy to use once you get it on the post. You don't have to exert much pressure downward, only lifting. One thing, however, the one you mention won't handle the posts you are referring to. Your post is 3.5" wide, and the overall width of the pounder is about 3.5", which would make the inside diameter of the pounder too small.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 03:31 PM
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I think I have resolved the digging issue--I will dig by hand. thats fine.

My problem now is whether to use metal or wood posts, and how to secure the panel to the posts from my side without going on the other side of the fence.

I guess, I can screw from my side into the panels 2x3s. So, if using wood the screws would need to be 5 inches long (3.5 for post + 1.5 for rail) or 4.75. Unless I counter sink them -- but do I want to drill holes in the post? will that help bring on warping?

It seems that is the way they would be put on if using metal--through the metal and then into the wood rail. It seems a big wind would rip the panel from the screws... but all the pics I see show this.

http://www.havuzkimyasalim.com/wp-co...ost-hinges.jpg

wouldnt a big wind rip this panel off the bracket? Unless it is bolted and there is a nut on the other side that we cant see.

I could lag bolt the top rail, because I can reach over, but the middle and lower rails would need to be screwed from the back.

I guess the question really is: should the panelst be carriage bolted to the post, or just regular screws thorugh the post (if wood) or bracket(if metal) and into the rail.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 05:03 PM
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If you note on the site you referred to, it showed the round post with brackets to be a weak link. They suggested overlaying the post with wood, giving it a double strength layering.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 05:54 PM
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Oh, I didnt even notice. I was just looking at pics.

ok, so Im stumped. How can I fasten the panel to the posts if I can only work from my side. I guess I could put the rails on my side and bolt through them into the post, but then I would lose a couple of more inches.

What about a carriage bolt through the rails and posts. I can put a nice big stainless steel washer on the other side so it couldnt pull through.

The only issue would be somehow holding the bolt on the other side so that I could tighten from my side. A little creativity could help there. Im thinking maybe one of the following:
1) Remove a couple of slats to get my hand in there and then somehow fastening just those slats from my side. They are not structural so not as big a deal.
bolt head hits it, the bolt head braces against it and stops.
2) Weld a wrench to a long piece of metal so that I can reach down on the other side of the fence and secure the bolthead while someone on my side tightens
3) Grind down a washer so it is not round but has a flat. Then secure that to the panel right next to the pre-drilled bolt hole. When the
4) Any other ideas?

But would drilling holes through the posts weaken/lead to warping? It would be six holes on each post. They shouldnt need to be thicker than 1/4" I dont think. I cant imagine that would matte much.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 06:11 PM
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If I ever build another fence I will use the posts that you originally linked to or another manufacturer of similar design. No wood, no galvanized posts.
The special posts are more expensive, but save on hardware and trouble.
The professionals out here use them/recommend them and I can't believe how fast they can build a fence and how good it looks. The posts are not only strong, the fence to post connections are much easier, screws only.
 
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Old 05-12-16, 07:25 PM
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The only negative to those posts in my mind is that they must be set in concrete. So, now you need to lug bags of sakrete around.
 
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Old 05-13-16, 11:32 AM
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If digging the holes with a clamshell digger, the hole is about 6 inches diameter.

Is that wide enough to concrete a metal post? Is it enough concrete?
 
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Old 05-13-16, 11:59 AM
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You can dig a hole pretty much whatever diameter you want with a posthole digger.

You can also use clips or L brackets to secure the fence to wooden posts. I have a short section of stockade fence screening my brush pile. I screwed brackets to the posts and then to the 2"X holding the fence pales together.
 
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Old 05-13-16, 12:07 PM
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But is a 6" wide enough? Is that enough concrete to set a post in?

And, I am still torn between wood and metal.

Another question on wood. I have other sections of fence I put up 15 years ago and they are all still rock solid. But, I believe I put them 4 feet in the ground. I know that will make them more sturdy than the standard 2.5 feet in the ground, but would it make it less likely to break in big winds?

My concern is that if a wood post broke, the section of fence might them go towards my neighbors yard--and I want 0 contact with this @&#^!%.

The other direction, it would hit my pool. Don't want that either. But, do posts really break? For all I have read on the internet about posts rotting and breaking, I have never seen this.

I am only doing 15 of them. I can certainly dig down an extra foot or so (dont want to if not neccessary).
 
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Old 05-14-16, 10:45 AM
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...standard 2.5 feet in the ground
Unless I missed it, you didn't mention how high this "stockade fence" will be. Looking at images of stockade fence, that will catch a ton of wind.
 
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Old 05-14-16, 10:52 AM
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You are absolutely right. I have 4 eight foot sections and I back braced each post. So far it has withstood 60-70 mph gusts. I think without the braces it might have toppled.
 
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Old 05-14-16, 09:15 PM
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The fence will be a 6 foot stockade.The posts are usually 5.5 feet above ground, and Idoubt people are using 10 footers and digging 4.5 feet down.

So, I am assuming here, but it seems most stockade fences are installed with 2.5 feet below ground.

The part that I dont get is how I read all over the internet how the posts will rot and break--yet I have never seen that happen. Where are all these people living that are having posts rot and fences blow over (which would mean the post cracks)?


But, if it is true and I just simply havent seen it, would digging down deeper help? I cant go too much further, but I could get 10 footers and cut a foot off, and dig a foot deeper. Would that make a post less likely to break? There would still be just as much post above ground (5.5 feet) so I cant see how it would help. I guess it would help it from loosening over time as there is more of it in the ground.
 
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Old 05-18-16, 08:50 AM
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Ok, after much deliberating, I have made my decision to go with wood posts. If one breaks, there is any movement or any problem, I can address any issues in the future.

Plus, I like the lack of permanency. Even though I have no intention of moving these posts for any reason, you never know. It seems every time I do something permanent, I end up having some kind of modification in the future. So avoiding concrete is a plus.

I'll try and dig down close to 4 feet, and get 10 foot posts and just chop a small amount off of them. This way they will be in nice and deep.

So, the final question.

I cant get to the back side of this fence as it will be up against my neighbors 6 foot fence (only about 6 inches away).

So, how best to secure the panels to the posts.

Because I have a pool, the rails must be on my side of the yard.

But do I need to have the rails on the outside of the posts? In other words, with full access, you would but the rails up to the posts, behind the posts, and screw them in. But that would require me to have access from the rear, which I dont.

The options I can think of are:

#1) drill 1/4 inch holes through the posts and the rails. Put an extra long bolt (7") through the holes in the rail and put the rail in place behind the post, guiding the long bolt through the post, to me. Since the bolt is long enough to extend through the picket, rail, and post and still extend to me another inch or so, I can put the nut on it and then hold it with a pair of pliers as I tighten the bolt. Then I can cut off the excess.

#2) Srcrew the panels on my side of the posts. In other words, from my side, you would see no posts, only rails. Is this acceptable? Would it look strange?

#2 would be the easiest way to go. And I wouldnt have to drill any holes. But not sure how it would look.

Any thoughts?
 
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