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View Full Version : Cementing Fence Post


OX Landworks
04-15-2006, 05:49 PM
I'm going to be setting some vinyl fence post and I plan to cement them in. I was planning on mixing some quickcrete and pouring it in, but I've seen some guys just pour the dry quickcrete down the hole and fill with water. How do you guys do it? And do you ever mix in gravel or screenings with the mixture? Thanks guys!

tylermckee
04-15-2006, 06:27 PM
Ive seen it done both ways, usually the lazy once just throw it in the hole dry

MarcusLndscp
04-15-2006, 06:39 PM
Ditto....both ways work. Mixing it wet actually probably sets up quicker but I have had no problems dumping it in dry either

Grass Cake
04-15-2006, 09:13 PM
Ive seen it done both ways, usually the lazy once just throw it in the hole dry

This has nothing to do with being LAZY.....it's production!

Pour it in dry...tamp it good.......build your fence.....water(or let nature take it's course).

Having to wait for cement to dry is 0 production.

I've built them part time for 20 years and see little difference when dry packed or wet mixed.

I also slept at a holiday inn last night...YMMV.

Grass Cake

orionkf
04-16-2006, 10:16 PM
This has nothing to do with being LAZY.....it's production!

Pour it in dry...tamp it good.......build your fence.....water(or let nature take it's course).

Having to wait for cement to dry is 0 production.

I've built them part time for 20 years and see little difference when dry packed or wet mixed.

I also slept at a holiday inn last night...YMMV.

Grass Cake


I struggle with things like this all the time. People I work with have been know to call me a perfectionist, and too picky. I know just because it takes longer to do something doesn't always make it better. However, if I do it the fast way, I feel like I am not giving it my all, hence shortchanging the customer. Comments from seasoned veterans like the one above help, but in the back of my head, I always think "sure it lasted years, but maybe doing it the hard way would result in an extra 5 years of life".

Also, extra steps are not always necessary, not worth the extra time, or even counter-productive (see the debate on pre-compacting sand). But sometimes I think, "if I give an extra 5 percent on each step of the process, and throw in an extra step...wow, that's gotta make it a lot better than the next guys. But is the customer going to know or care about any of that?

I have to constantly remind myself that we do not live in a perfect world, and I'm not making engine parts (which I've done before, which might lead to my tight tolerances on landscaping) I guess the trick is to find a healthy balance, right? However, I've had customers come out and put a level or tape on my work and tell me it was "off by a good 1/4". Most of these people seem to be DIYers with too much knowledge and too little time to do it themselves.

So, how does everyone decide what their tolerances are? Do your standards and tolerances change with the caliber of clientele? How much do you let things slide when they will be buried/never seen? I find it very helpful to have industry standards such as +/- 3/8" over 10' on your base. There are some people who say they do their 6' fence posts as much as 1" out of plumb to get the tops to line up. I would never do even half that much, but if I knew everybody was playing by the same rules, I would feel more comfortable.

How much is your company image influenced by the degree to which you exceed the standard, or code? Do you do your projects to look good to the customer, or to be able to stand up to the scrutiny of another contractor? If you do things the fast way, how do you deal with the picky customers? Are there people out there that have tighter tolerances than the product's?

Sorry for the length of the post, but this is a complex issue for me. Hope to hear other people's insights.

tylermckee
04-16-2006, 10:26 PM
The couple times ive built a fence i went and set all my posts first, using 2 2x4's and some stakes to hold them while the concrete sets. then came back around after i set the last post and started building, the concrete should be plenty hard enough by then. thats with a stick built fence at least, if i was using panels i might try the dry cement method, otherwise i would have a bunch of 2x4's left over.

olderthandirt
04-16-2006, 10:56 PM
So, how does everyone decide what their tolerances are?

If its to code and looks good to my customer its good enough for me. My customers are the ones making the referrals, if there happy they will gain you more customers. Don't care what other contractors do or think.


but if I knew everybody was playing by the same rules, I would feel more comfortable.

The code is the rule and the customers are the FINAL inspectors

dcondon
04-16-2006, 11:00 PM
If its to code and looks good to my customer its good enough for me. My customers are the ones making the referrals, if there happy they will gain you more customers. Don't care what other contractors do or think.




The code is the rule and the customers are the FINAL inspectors

Very well said!!! It all comes down to what they like and the payup payup

Drafto
04-18-2006, 12:06 AM
I struggle with things like this all the time. People I work with have been know to call me a perfectionist, and too picky. I know just because it takes longer to do something doesn't always make it better. However, if I do it the fast way, I feel like I am not giving it my all, hence shortchanging the customer. Comments from seasoned veterans like the one above help, but in the back of my head, I always think "sure it lasted years, but maybe doing it the hard way would result in an extra 5 years of life".

Also, extra steps are not always necessary, not worth the extra time, or even counter-productive (see the debate on pre-compacting sand). But sometimes I think, "if I give an extra 5 percent on each step of the process, and throw in an extra step...wow, that's gotta make it a lot better than the next guys. But is the customer going to know or care about any of that?

I have to constantly remind myself that we do not live in a perfect world, and I'm not making engine parts (which I've done before, which might lead to my tight tolerances on landscaping) I guess the trick is to find a healthy balance, right? However, I've had customers come out and put a level or tape on my work and tell me it was "off by a good 1/4". Most of these people seem to be DIYers with too much knowledge and too little time to do it themselves.

So, how does everyone decide what their tolerances are? Do your standards and tolerances change with the caliber of clientele? How much do you let things slide when they will be buried/never seen? I find it very helpful to have industry standards such as +/- 3/8" over 10' on your base. There are some people who say they do their 6' fence posts as much as 1" out of plumb to get the tops to line up. I would never do even half that much, but if I knew everybody was playing by the same rules, I would feel more comfortable.

How much is your company image influenced by the degree to which you exceed the standard, or code? Do you do your projects to look good to the customer, or to be able to stand up to the scrutiny of another contractor? If you do things the fast way, how do you deal with the picky customers? Are there people out there that have tighter tolerances than the product's?

Sorry for the length of the post, but this is a complex issue for me. Hope to hear other people's insights.

Seriously, we are just talking about setting fence posts. We use QC specifically designed post holes. Dump the bag on the hole, dump a gallon of water and it sets in 15 minutes by the time we get to the last post and eat lunch they are ready. It is the red bags in the concrete aisle, I think it is about twice the price of the normal stuff.

Dan

Soupy
04-18-2006, 12:30 AM
When I built a deck, and a fence at my last residence I just poured in dry and then added water. It worked fine. I can't remember for sure, but I am thinking I might have poured half the concrete then added some water then added more concrete and more water. I was filling 2 ft holes. I used a gas post hole digger for the holes. Like I said it's been a while and not sure how I did it exactly, but I did pour it dry. I did this because that is what my neighbor told me to do and he owns a concrete business.

OX Landworks
04-18-2006, 02:07 AM
It is the red bags in the concrete aisle, I think it is about twice the price of the normal stuff.

Dan

Is that the fast setting concrete that you are referring to?
It sounds as thought the consensus is to put the cement in dry, then add the water. Thanks for all of the input. I'm very excited about this project because I'll get to do all of the holes with a mini-skid that I'll be taking delivery of here in the next week.

General Landscaping
04-18-2006, 02:41 AM
Pour it in dry, water in, and put up the panels tomorrow.
Works for me.

BCF
04-18-2006, 11:05 PM
For wood fences dry packing works the best. Water is really needed to be added, the moisture from the ground will harden it up, and not stick to the post. I'd rather wet mix chainlink, aluminum, or vinyl posts, though. I tjust seems to grip the material better, no variances of strength.:weightlifter: If you mix the sand , stone and portland yourself, it's way cheaper, and not anymore time consuming using a mixer then hand mixing a barrow of dry. Just pack some soil at the bottom to hold you post until time to concrete.

Drafto
04-18-2006, 11:09 PM
Is that the fast setting concrete that you are referring to?
It sounds as thought the consensus is to put the cement in dry, then add the water. Thanks for all of the input. I'm very excited about this project because I'll get to do all of the holes with a mini-skid that I'll be taking delivery of here in the next week.

Yes the fast setting post concrete. You can dry pack any brand or type of bagged cement and get the same results. We use tyhe high strength and dry pack that also, if you pack it with a prybar and push out as much air as possible it gets tight enough to hang panels. Use the fast setting stuff and start at your gate posts first that way you CAN hang your gate last at the end of the day instead of going back the next day. Goodluck.

Dan

Bustus
04-18-2006, 11:10 PM
Many of the methods seem to work well, the only factor is cost as quick set cement usually costs more. Some clients may also have a problem with it if they are watching you. They may think you are trying to cut corners by simply pouring cement in a hole then running a hose to moisten it. It all depends.

OX Landworks
04-18-2006, 11:46 PM
So how long would you all plan to spend on a fence that is off of the back of a house for a 4' tall vinyl fence total of 168 lin. ft., and two prefabricated gates? The sections do not come assembled.

orionkf
04-18-2006, 11:54 PM
So how long would you all plan to spend on a fence that is off of the back of a house for a 4' tall vinyl fence total of 168 lin. ft., and two prefabricated gates? The sections do not come assembled.


2 very short days if you have some kind of auger. Just did one similar.

fall46
04-19-2006, 12:32 PM
BCF

When setting wood posts, I have read that you really shouldnt use concrete but instead use 3/4 clean gravel (same stone as behind a retaining wall). This will allow water to drain vs wick into the post causing the post to rot.

Here's a link

let me know what u think

http://www.sonic.net/~cprowell/gate/postholes.htm

BCF
04-19-2006, 11:41 PM
Well with that gravel, with it all being the same size, it's not going to pack up worth a damn. Also, I could see the air pockets in the gravel being the easiest place for the water to sit. And they still want a small concrete footer towards the top of the hole, right at the spot where the air and ground meets wher the post is prone to rot no matter how you set posts. And putting it a few inches deeper does nothing to prevent frost heave if your hole isn't belled towards the bottom. The gravel at the bottom, well I could spend the time doing that, as it's good in theory, but IMO the few inches of soil that may hold more water than the gravel aren't going to rot the post enough to tip it over. Besides the fact that the water table dictates nore how well the water drains, not a few inches of gravel. PT posts would be best suited coated with creasote, but for a few more years, I couldn't justify the costs to a customer. But I am one of many fence contractors who do things the right way, my way just makes more sense to me.:headphones::cool2:

BTW, two short days on the fence is about right. The slide in pickets will go faster than the screw in type.

Grassmechanic
04-20-2006, 10:43 AM
Interesting topic. I do landscape maintenance for a guy that installs cedar decks. The big, huge massive things that only the millionares can afford (his decks start at 15k and go up from there). Anyways, I asked him how he installs posts. He said he augers to 1 foot below frost line. Fills up to the frostline with concrete. Lets the concrete set up. Then he sets his posts on the concrete "pad" in the bottom of the hole and then backfills with sand and tamps it firmly. No additional concrete. Interesting.......

OX Landworks
04-21-2006, 01:20 AM
The cedar post around my house are all starting to rot out, as they are set in concrete. I saw I detail the other day of wooden post being set in a metal bracket that is anchored to concrete, it looks like this would be a good solution to post rotting out.

olderthandirt
04-21-2006, 01:35 AM
Interesting topic. I do landscape maintenance for a guy that installs cedar decks. The big, huge massive things that only the millionares can afford (his decks start at 15k and go up from there). Anyways, I asked him how he installs posts. He said he augers to 1 foot below frost line. Fills up to the frostline with concrete. Lets the concrete set up. Then he sets his posts on the concrete "pad" in the bottom of the hole and then backfills with sand and tamps it firmly. No additional concrete. Interesting.......

What he's doing is building the footer for the post to sit on and its the correct way to do it. A fence should be done the same way but its hard to pack the soil tight around the post so it can be erected quickly. At my house I built the footers and never cemented a post and have had no problem with frost heave in yrs. Ask any horse guy how many of his pasture fences are cemented and he'll tell you the corners, contractors got the idea that every post needed crete around it to make it sturdy. Just another idea that most people think has to be done because thats how they seen it done.

Grassmechanic
04-21-2006, 05:48 PM
What he's doing is building the footer for the post to sit on and its the correct way to do it. A fence should be done the same way but its hard to pack the soil tight around the post so it can be erected quickly. At my house I built the footers and never cemented a post and have had no problem with frost heave in yrs. Ask any horse guy how many of his pasture fences are cemented and he'll tell you the corners, contractors got the idea that every post needed crete around it to make it sturdy. Just another idea that most people think has to be done because thats how they seen it done.
I know for a fact that his decks are solid. He has a party every year. There are at least 40 people on his deck at any given time. You can never feel it move. Just like you were on a concrete patio. Very solid. he also said the it never frost heaves, either. If I ever build a deck, I'm going to try his method.

fall46
08-06-2007, 12:46 PM
Old post but wanted to bring it back to life....Does anyone use gravel 3/4 clean to backfill around cedar fence posts? Seems o be 2 schools of thought concrete or gravel when setting your posts? I like thd idea of gravel 3/4 of the way up and then a section of concrete

Also how far should the posts be setback from a reataining wall..its apprx 3.5 in height (And yes it has @ least of 12 free draining gravel behind It !!!!!)

Grn Mtn
08-06-2007, 06:23 PM
Depends on the type of fence and type of wood. Big panels definately benifit from concrete. Dry packing it in in a sandy soil is not a good idea, maybe in a rocky or heavy soil, but I saw 30' of fence blow over (and was put in by deck/fence contractor), since then I have always staked my posts first and poured in wet. UNLESS I am using cedar then I just pack in lifts.

fall46
08-06-2007, 06:31 PM
They are 6 x 8 cedar panels with lattice top.....

"UNLESS I am using cedar then I just pack in lifts"

So you use gravel and pack in lifts when dealing with cedar?

silverscapes
08-06-2007, 11:23 PM
pour it dry and walk away when your done you can level and eye up the fence put it to grade what ever don't mix with water ........:clapping:

fall46
08-07-2007, 12:00 PM
How far are people setting back posts from retaining walls

SPENCER HUNTER
08-07-2007, 02:26 PM
when i set post i use the fast setting kind concrete i usally rent a auger to dig the holes providing if there is more than 10 to dig i usally dig them by my self if there is less than 10,, after hole is dug i put 2inches of loose gravel in the bottom of the hole to help drain water away from the bottom of the post to keep it from rotting then i cut the top of the post as in having pointed top or just install some caps on the post then goes in thepost then dry concrete,,while i'm pouring in,, i have someone to hold it plumb,,,, then wet it with water,, with a trowel,, i make a hill with concrete up against the post so when it rains it will runaway from the post to help prevent water damage:dancing:

silverscapes
08-07-2007, 06:52 PM
if your worrying about rot on a wooden post pour DRY cement in hole fill half way then a shovel or two of regular dirt what ever you dug out then finish filling hole with dry cement.... loose gravel in bottom is point less cause the water will not make it down to the bottom of post :usflag:

senatorcongressman
08-08-2007, 04:18 PM
I haven't tried it, but I saw an old dude where I used to live build a fence use a pretty elaborate method to prevent post rot. He dug the hole as usual but made the top 10-12" about 4" wider (making a counter-bore of sorts in the hole). Filled the around the post with concrete up to the step (he used wet but thats not the point) Then he slid an inverted plastic pot (3 gal?) with the top cut off over the post so the rim rested on the poured crete, then he filled the pot with more concrete.

The next day he removed the pots and had a post set in crete with the top 8-10" shaped like a cone. Backfilled around the concrete cone with clear stone. The top of the concrete was just below grade and not visible. He said got the idea from how he makes his decks, but in that case the cone-part is entirely above grade.