Fences serve all kinds of purposes. Some are practical—barbed wire or a corral fence, for example—while some are decorative—like that white picket fence around the cottage. Some are designed for a particular purpose, such as the five foot wooden fence around a yard designed to provide privacy. No matter what the purpose of a fence is, they all have fence posts.
In many instances, the hardest thing about building a fence is digging the holes and setting the posts. However, there is another option. Post spikes can provide a base for fence posts and eliminate all that digging and concrete pouring prior to building your fence.
What's a Post Spike?
A post spike is a heavy metal spike about 24 or 30 inches long with a metal box (usually 4x4) attached to the top, designed to hold the base of a wooden fence post. You simply drive the post spike into the ground where you want to put your fence post and then insert the wooden post into the box. The idea is to provide a convenient and economical way to build a fence—no need to dig holes and pour concrete, and the post spikes only cost a few dollars each.
Do They Really Work?
Building a fence using post spikes does eliminate a couple of the things that can make fences go bad.
First, when wood comes into contact with dirt or the ground, over time the wood will rot. Having the base of your posts well above the ground and only in contact with the metal post spike will protect it from rotting away. Even if it does need to be replaced sometime in the future, replacing the post is as easy as taking the old post out of the spike and replacing it with a new one.
Second, over time fence posts set in the ground can get twisted out of plumb, usually as a result of frost or moisture causing the ground to shift. Post spikes are available with the 4x4 box actually attached to the base on an adjustable swivel. This allows you to install the post perfectly plumb (even if the spike itself isn't driven straight into the ground), and if the post moves over time, you can adjust the swivel and plumb it back up.
What's the Downside?
Fence spikes aren't applicable for all types of fences. They're designed to work with 4x4 wooden posts, so obviously they aren't any good for chain link or other industrial type fences. Also, because they really aren't as structurally sound as a wooden post set directly into concrete, the height of the fence you can build using these spikes is limited.
In general, the 24" spikes should only be used for fences up to 48", while the 30" spikes can only support fences up to 60". Finally, remember the post only goes down as far and the base of the box, so you could be left with a gap on the bottom of the fence.
As you can see post spikes make fence building a snap! Give it a try and you'll have yours built in no time.
Read on to Learn How to Build a Fence with Post Spikes.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with articles published in both the United States and Canada. He has written on a wide range of topics, but specializes in home maintenance and how to's.