Most of us go about our day never thinking about the dreaded leaning fence post… Until we have a sideways post of our own! Once your eyes have been opened, you will soon realize these rotten fence posts are everywhere!
What gives? I thought these post were made for ground contact?
Yes they are… kind of. Even though a typical 4×4 fence post is pressure treated, they just don’t have what it takes to withstand the elements we receive here in the Portland, Vancouver area. The rot always takes place at the same spot; right next to the ground where the post gets enough oxygen to keep the rot going, but stays wet even in the summer months! This is the worst spot! Your fence acts as a wind sail putting all that torque right on the weak spot at the bottom of the post and eventually, SNAP! It gives way to it’s soggy weakness.
The chemical make up of the pressure treatment changed around 2004 to eliminate arsenic that was commonly found in these treated products. Thank goodness for that! Unfortunately, the new stuff just isn’t as good as the old stuff (well, as far as keeping your post in tact). We hear all the time, “my original fence post has lasted over 20 years… will the new ones last that long?” The answer is no in my experience. It’s difficult to offer a guarantee of just how long these new posts will last. I can’t think of a single contractor who will warranty a wood post buried in the ground. If they do, they are looking for some trouble in the future.
So what is a good solution?
There are a lot of different ways to set a pressure treated post in the ground for fencing. A quick google search will show all the expert opinions and list their reasons “why” their way is the best. If it’s going to be wood, pressure treated is the way to go over any other wood type. You can set it in concrete, sand, rocks.. whatever! It’s still going to rot at the same place over time.The very best post for fencing isn’t wood at all. Are you ready for this? It’s galvanized steel. Iv’e been using a steel post designed specifically for fencing for several years now called The Postmaster by Master Halco products.
The post can be hidden by placing a cedar picket along the back side of the fence as shown in the photo above. This way, I can keep the beauty of a cedar fence (no steel showing) but maintain the integrity of it’s post! No more rot. No more leaning fences! No more shrinking or twisting. Forever! Well, when is the last time you saw a rotten chain link fence? Hmmm… me either! Same galvanized steel. Different shape post.
What about replacing a rotten pressure treated post with a steel post?
This is a fairly straight forward process. Aside from the back ache of digging out the old concrete at the base of the post, there are a few challenges with making the old fence “fit” to the new, more narrow, steel postmaster. Once the old 4×4 post is removed and the new Postmaster has been installed, there will be about an inch of space on each side of the new steel post where the old fence won’t quite make it. To overcome this, I’ve found the best way is to add a 2×2 down each side of the flange on the Postmaster. This gives me the difference I need to make up to attach the old fence to the new post. Add in a couple of fence clips and away we go!
Give this a try the next time you find yourself living in leaning post land. Or, you can save yourself the back ache of digging and mixing concrete and let your local Fence Butler take care of it for you!
Fence Butler specializes in small jobs for fencing. Most fence companies have built in overhead to tackle the large, full fence replacement jobs so their pricing may be much higher to replace the small stuff (if you can get them to come out for the small work at all).
You can also try a local handyman to save on some cash but chances are they won’t be able to help you right away and may not be as fence savvy as the guys who only work on fences! Fence Butler is a good fit when you demand excellent customer service, professional fence knowledge, fast installs at a fraction of the price.
You can check them out here if you live in the Portland Oregon / Vancouver, WA area: