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The Fence Post

The Frost Line and Your Fence Post

December 24, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

 

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Considering Frost Heaves

Frost heaves are caused by water that is drawn up through deep unfrozen soil to the varying depths of frozen soil beneath ground level. A horizontal ice lens grows particularly in clay type soil and collects below the frozen soil and creates what is known as an ice lens that then expands as it freezes and slowly pushes soil and whatever rocks and debris upwards.

graphic drawing about frost heaves science

                                                                                                   Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The stability of your fence is dependent on what lurks below. 

Certain types of soils are not a concern. Gravel and sandy soil are not susceptible to the exchange of moisture that create frost heaves. Very thick clay soil is also immune. Also, where frost only penetrates the soil an inch or two there is no need to be concerned about frost heaves, such as on the west coast and the southern most parts of the U.S. 

However, where freezing goes deeply into soil, your fence posts (and the footings of your deck) are subject to this upward pressure. The concrete in the fence post's base is an excellent conductor of heat and attracts moisture which can form an ice lens around the concrete base, rendering it susceptible to movement. A pressure treated wooden post is not a good conductor of heat, particularly when wrapped with plastic or coated with tar; this helps prevent the up and down movement of the post. 

Some General Guidelines

Most likely, setting a post a couple of feet up to 5 feet are required to offset this issue. Your local town building inspector probably has guidelines for the best depths for fence posts in your particular area. If you dig a hole that's wider at the top in a V shape, you'll have a problem. The smaller bottom of the hole will provide little resistance for the upward pressure of the moisture and what follows it. A hole dug in the shape of a bell (wider at the bottom) is better, filled with concrete, gravel or gravel with masonry sand for good compaction, and then tamped down every six inches. Bring the concrete or fill within a few inches of ground level and fill the rest of the way up with tamped-down dirt. Concrete footers are the best bet for offsetting the pressure that works on the fence above the frost line. Some experts recommend an insulating pad of styrofoam about 2 inches thick beneath the footer. A chat with a trusted local building contractor may be helpful as circumstances vary so much according to soil types and the depths of freeze in your area. 

Frost heaves can also push up plants and expose roots to damaging wind and cold, not to mention poorly prepared roads and sidewalks.

Here's a thorough going-over of the process with a variety of scenarios:  

 

Do you have expertise in your area on the subject of frost heaves? Please share your insights or recommendations below.

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Topics: concrete fence posts, wood post & rail fence, how to, posts, Fencing Tips

T Post Installation

May 8, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

Using T Posts

First, a lesson in T post installation

 

T Post Efficiency 

No digging holes for wooden posts--a huge benefit of T posts is their installation. Pounded right into the ground, most easily done with a post hole driver. Straight and strong, knock em in, and revel in their ability to hold.  And happily, they can be moved, too. Permanent or temporary, you choose. 

 

 

T Post Strength

These American made posts are made of 100% recycled rail steel. Think about what freight trains pull. This is that steel. Very tough, durable, and able to bear a generous load. They're a fine choice for hard or rocky ground and can even stand up to livestock.

T Post Economy

Wood or vinyl posts carry a hefty price tag. T posts are a bargain in comparison. Add their ease of installation and longevity, you end up saving considerable time and money. And you can cover a lot of ground. Louis Page also includes five wire fasteners with each post.

Three surface treatments:

  • coated with baked enamel
  • hot-dipped galvanization
  • untreated

Consider purchasing T posts that are galvanized for longer life. Particularly in coastal climates where there is more risk of increased corrosion of steel which is vulnerable to rust. Yet even unfinished T posts are very weather resistant due to the high quality of rail steel.  

Are you thinking that wood might be more appealing? Aesthetics are important; however, T posts are seen mostly in winter whereas in summer the posts are covered in leafy vines. Even treated wood posts are vulnerable to rot, breakage, and taking a beating from the weather. However, if a T post is for some reason damaged, it is easily replaced.

Use them for silt fencing, snow fencing and safety fencing.

Here's an example of T posts holding up grapevines.
Vineyard T Posts

 You can also these beauties for sign posts, pens, guide stakes, home gardens, and more.

Shop T Posts

 

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Topics: galvanized after, posts, steel fence posts, steel fence posts and driver

Studded T Posts: What You Need to Know

July 8, 2016 | by Debbie Page

Forestalling Rust 

When you build a wire fence, the type of wire you use is very important. Using an inferior wire will lead the fence to rust quickly and need to be replaced. Instead, you should use vinyl coated, stainless steel, zinc aluminum with black paint (if available), or Class 3 galvanized (if available), which will stand up to the elements and last much longer. However, just as important as the type of wire you use are the type of posts that hold the wire up. These are often overlooked when it comes to fence building, but if you use the wrong type, it can weaken the structural integrity of your fence even faster than the wrong wire. That’s why it’s important, when building a Class 3 galvanized wire fence, to use galvanized posts as well.

galvanized T post
Various Finishes
  • Galvanized: To galvanize something is to coat it in a protective layer of zinc. Zinc will stand up against water and the elements better than other types of metals, protecting against rust and making your metal last longer. Galvanization takes place either before (GBW) or after (GAW) the welding. GAW is the longest lasting of those two. Class 3 galvanized wire (if available). Class 1 galvanization uses only a very thin layer of zinc, which lasts 2 - 11 years before it rusts. In a coastal area, where salt water is a factor, it can last 2 years or less. Class 3 galvanization, on the other hand, is thicker and can last anywhere from 13 to 30 years. It’s a little more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be replaced nearly as often, saving you more money in the long run.
  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel welded wire mesh is strong and long-lasting. By its very nature, stainless steel wire needs no additional finish, such as galvanizing or PVC, to protect it. The wire itself is extremely resistant to rust, corrosion, and harsh chemicals. If you need a welded mesh or fence in an area with prolonged exposure to corrosives, stainless steel products will meet the demands. Type 316 is recommended for saltwater environments since it has a higher resistance to corrosion than Type 304.
  • Vinyl Coated - VC: Welded wire fencing and meshes are both long lasting and attractive. Galvanized welded mesh is coated with a thick layer of PVC which is tightly bonded to the wire by a heat process. The coating is flexible and will not crack when the wire is bent. It is stable over a wide temperature range, maintaining its qualities in extremes of both hot and cold temperatures. UV inhibitors are in the vinyl to retard degradation from sunlight. The coating is also very resistant to scraping and abrasion. Vinyl coated welded wire mesh and fence sometimes referred to as plastic coated wire products, are very strong and durable. They are long lasting and rust resistant. They have double protection. Not only does the vinyl coating seal the wire from water and other corrosive elements, but the underlying mesh is also protected by a zinc coating.
  • Zinc Aluminum - ZA: A new, zinc-coated aluminum hybrid coating. It lasts more than twice as long as Class 1 but uses less coating then Class 3, which saves you money.
  • ZA with Black paint: Lasts more than twice as long as Class 3 and is painted black. It will last 13 to 30 until rust in non-coastal environments.

The Benefits of Steel Posts
The wire isn’t the only part of your fence that’s subject to the elements. The posts are as well. You can have the best wire on the market, but if the posts fail first, you’ll still have to replace your fence sooner than intended. A lot of wire fences use wood posts. They’re strong and sturdy, but they can rot over time, or be eaten away by termites and other bugs. It’s much better to use metal posts. The best posts are the steel T-posts because they are galvanized. They are made with studs every 2 1/8" down the length of the post, allowing you to customize the height of your fence easily and prevent the fence from riding up and down the post.

Galvanization is a plus--

Of course, metal posts are subject to the same issues as metal wires are. If you’re not careful, they can rust. Therefore, just as it’s important to use the choices mentioned above for your fence, it’s also essential to use galvanized posts. Galvanization will guard your posts against the elements so that they don’t rust as quickly.

Your posts are what hold your fence together, so it’s important that they be strong, sturdy, and long-lasting. A high-quality wire on a cheap, low-quality post will cause problems and likely need to be replaced within a few years. But if you use strong, metal, galvanized posts, with top quality wire, then your wire fence can last you for decades.

Bird on T post

Download the T Post brochure!

 

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Topics: galvanized, posts, vinyl coated, steel fence posts

Your Fence After Recent Storms?

October 30, 2012 | by Duncan Page

Fence crushed by hurricane Sandy

The Morning After 

Does your yard look like this?

Have recent storms wreaked havoc on your fence and property?

Have the storm surge and wave action washed away your beach erosion fence and T posts?

Nomenclature

Unfortunately, this scene is common throughout the wide area of destruction caused by recent storms. The new buzzword, bomb cyclone (or bombogenesis), which describes the strength of a storm by the 24 (or more) millibars dropped in a 24 hour period--the lower the stronger. A recent storm dropped 30 millibars. 

If your fence was damaged or destroyed by the recent storm or past storms, you are faced with the decision of what to do next.

Is it structural damage?

Will you need to replace the supporting posts and other key pieces and re-build the fence? How long will it take to complete the necessary repairs? You may want to do the work yourself. But with everything else demanding your attention you may not have the time and energy to do the work. There may be other more pressing issues you need to address. Calling in a professional and reputable fence installer to do the replacement work for you would be a good choice. You can relax, knowing the job will be done right.

Or is the damage more cosmetic?

Perhaps there are just a few pieces that need to be replaced. Can you re-use any of the old pieces to fix it? See if the items you need can be purchased at your local lumber yard or building supply store. If the repair is easy and quick, you can probably do it yourself. Think it through before you make a decision. And if you need professional help, call a qualified fence company.

Do you need to replace your existing fence?

Was it old and in need of repair? Had you had grown tired of it? If you had been thinking about replacing it with something more to your liking, this could be the perfect time to make the change. Take advantage of the opportunity. Consult with your professional fence installer. Investigate the new possibilities.

Next Steps

Snow fence supported by studded T posts is used for beach erosion control. Is there any beach left or has all the sand been washed away? Wave action at the time of high tide combined with the storm surge was very destructive. In many areas, beach and dune topography was severely altered. After an assessment, it will be necessary to determine what the next steps are to protect whatever is left. If you can find the posts they might be able to be salvaged and re-used. If not, they will have to be purchased along with the snow fence.

Did you have any fence damage on your property? Is it something you need to have fixed or replaced? Or will you decide to remove it and not have any fence?

Duncan Page signature

 

 

Steel Fence Posts

 

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Topics: fencing materials, posts, steel fence posts and driver

Fence Projects for Fall

September 21, 2010 | by Frank Langone

 

fall color

Enjoying Fall and Being Prepared for What's Coming

Beat the frost? But who wants to think of winter?

Need to finish up certain projects before the cold weather and snow mess up your plans and frost makes digging holes for fencing a lot more difficult? The cool and pleasant fall days ahead make the work easier and more pleasant to face when you would rather be doing other things. But you need to finish certain tasks before the colder weather arrives. Here are some questions to think over:

Has the yard fence been completed?

Is the dog enclosure secure?

How safe is the play area for the children?

Do you need to protect your trees, shrubs and other plantings from hungry deer?

Has the pool fence had a safety inspection? Is the gate self-closing? Can the fence be climbed?

Is snow fence required to protect your property from wind-drifted snow?

Many possibilities and choices are readily available for any of these types of projects and any others you may have in mind. Consider using vinyl coated wire for longer life and more attractive appearance. Black vinyl coated wire blends into the background. It tends to "disappear" and not be as noticeable as other types of fencing.

Make your work plans and purchase your posts and fence. Beat the frost and colder weather.

prisoned-leaf

 

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Topics: welded wire fence, posts, black vinyl coated

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