Need Fencing help

G

Guest

#1
I need to get some fencing installed. I'm limited to 4' tall as I'm on a corner. It's a quiet dead-end across from a park. I have a dog that I want to keep in, and I have the usual concerns about keeping others out. The pool has its own fence around it, but it still worries me (newbie here!).

I'm looking at 4' picket fences. Choices are PT posts or cedar posts. Which is better?

Should they be sunk in concrete? One installer concretes all posts; the others only do the gates.

For the pickets and rails, again the choices are PT or cedar.

I'm in NJ and we have carpenter bees that like cedar. I have an older fence that's in great shape, is all PT and has been here for years. But I know that PT methods have changed since that was installed. I've also heard that newer PT wood can twist and split.

I'm looking at fencing contractors, or I can use a handy-man and HD's pre-fab PT fence.

Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Sue
 

Poolidiot

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Mar 31, 2007
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#2
I am by no means an expert but I will give you my opinion and how I built my fence.

1. Use PT on any that will be in contact with the ground
2. Set ALL post in concrete.
3. On your pickets, I was going to say, use cedar, but then when I read you have carpenter ants I say go with the PT.
4. I would not use pre-fab.

Hope this helps
 

TresW

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Jan 26, 2008
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Forney, TX
#3
I would suggest galvanized steel posts set in concrete. Even PT wood will eventually rot if exposed to water long enough. Galvanized steel posts last practically forever. Wood has gone up in price so much that steel posts typically don't cost any more than wood.

"One installer concretes all posts; the others only do the gates."

I've never heard of wood posts being set into the ground without concrete, I'd stay away from that installer. Now I've seen steel posts pile-driven into the ground about 4' and that works OK, but I wouldn't do that with wood because of long-term moisture exposure.

"For the pickets and rails, again the choices are PT or cedar."

Cedar is going to look much better. We installed cedar with a PT kickboard along the bottom, that's the best of both worlds because it keeps the cedar off the ground so that moisture can't wick up into it and insects can't get to it so easily. But I'm not familiar with the carpenter bees you mentioned, that might be your deciding factor.
 
G

Guest

#4
I've had galvanized with chain link fence, but have never seen it used with wood fencing. Do you have a link or info to show how it's attached?

My deck has lots of holes in the cedar from the carpenter bees. The existing PT picket fence in the back is untouched and is at least 10 years old. If I got cedar, I'd have to treat it to keep those little muchers away.

Thanks.
 

waste

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Mar 29, 2007
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#6
First, hold the epee at an angle of... OOPS! (wrong kind of fencing :oops: ) :lol:

I agree with what the others have said, you need something that will not rot or be eaten and have it well secured in the ground by concrete footings.
 

frustratedpoolmom

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#7
We had a fence put in a few years back. Where the posts were not dug below the frost line, the cement heaved and several posts have caused us problems. So you go out with your measure tape when they are digging and make sure they are where they should be, because they WILL cheat to finish early. Period.

I do recall a few installers discussing a sort of "mix" of rock and cement or something. We said no, all cement please.

What about a faux wrought iron or the real thing or pvc? None of those new styles (which have come down in price) appeal to you, or is it an HOA thing?

Good luck. I HATE our fence but can't afford to re-do. DON'T get a "shadowbox" style.
 

257WbyMag

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Feb 23, 2008
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#8
Use galvanized for posts. You will NEVER regret doing that and whomever buys your home from you later will appreciate it.

Concrete all posts. Just doing the gates is cheapo corner cutting.
 

cobra46

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May 31, 2007
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#9
Be careful with the "all cement" thing. What you want is called concrete which is a mix of cement, gravel, sand and water. These items must be mixed in precise proportions to acheive specific strengths commonly measured in ksi.

For a fence I would not recommend a 100% cement mix. The bix box stores sell premixed concrete under a variety of names like Quickrete or Sakcrete which are all pretty good at setting fence posts. Be careful using the fast setting types as you need to know what you're doing with these. Standard slow drying concrete gives you some time to adjust things. Some of these manufacturers of these products recommend placing the post in the hole, dumping in the concrete mix and then add water. Many years ago I used this technique on an old school (read big) satelite dish pole and it worked great. You may get a better mix if you dump the mixture in a wheel barrow and give it a mix with a hoe as you add the water.

Good Luck
 

revstriker

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2008
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Texas
#11
I'm no expert, but I've built a few fences and have done a ton of research. Depending on the ground conditions, wood posts will last longer without concrete. The holes need to be dug at least 6 inches deeper and filled with crushed rock, or pea gravel. This is for drainage. The problem with concrete and wood is that the wood will shrink causing space between the post and the concrete. Water will get in there and will rot the posts out quicker than if they were just set in soil with good drainage. On gate posts though, which take a lot of stress, there is no getting around the need for concrete.

When it comes to picking materials, both PT and Cedar are resistant to moisture and bugs, but PT does much better when in contact with the ground. Cedar ages better and stains better (in my opinion), so I do like cedar for the cross sections and pickets. For the best results though, go with the galvanized posts (this is what I did on the last fence I built) and concrete. For a 6 foot fence or higher, make sure you go with the thicker gage. For a 4 or 6 foot fence, I would space the posts no more than 8 feet apart. For an 8 foot fence, I would space them no more than 6 feet apart.

Built a Cedar 6 foot fence for a friend of mine about 10 years ago. PT posts set in soil, and the gate posts set in concrete. We used 4x6 on the gates and 4x4 for the regular posts. He told me he replaced the gate posts about 3 years ago, and they had pretty much rotted out. Other than that he only had one other problem with a fence post that shifted due to a frost heave (this is in MA). But the fence still looks pretty good after 10 years.
 

frustratedpoolmom

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#12
revstriker said:
I'm no expert, but I've built a few fences and have done a ton of research. Depending on the ground conditions, wood posts will last longer without concrete. The holes need to be dug at least 6 inches deeper and filled with crushed rock, or pea gravel. This is for drainage. The problem with concrete and wood is that the wood will shrink causing space between the post and the concrete. Water will get in there and will rot the posts out quicker than if they were just set in soil with good drainage. On gate posts though, which take a lot of stress, there is no getting around the need for concrete.

When it comes to picking materials, both PT and Cedar are resistant to moisture and bugs, but PT does much better when in contact with the ground. Cedar ages better and stains better (in my opinion), so I do like cedar for the cross sections and pickets. For the best results though, go with the galvanized posts (this is what I did on the last fence I built) and concrete. For a 6 foot fence or higher, make sure you go with the thicker gage. For a 4 or 6 foot fence, I would space the posts no more than 8 feet apart. For an 8 foot fence, I would space them no more than 6 feet apart.

Built a Cedar 6 foot fence for a friend of mine about 10 years ago. PT posts set in soil, and the gate posts set in concrete. We used 4x6 on the gates and 4x4 for the regular posts. He told me he replaced the gate posts about 3 years ago, and they had pretty much rotted out. Other than that he only had one other problem with a fence post that shifted due to a frost heave (this is in MA). But the fence still looks pretty good after 10 years.
Well that makes a lot of sense. And I bet my posts would not have heaved, cause frost line wouldn't be as much of an issue with posts set in soil. Wish I had talked to you 10 years ago, sounds like his fence is faring better than mine... :roll:
 

wmshay6

Well-known member
Jun 22, 2008
149
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Central MD
#13
Revstriker gives good advice.

I also vote NO on the concrete of all posts for the reasons he mentioned. The drainage is key.

I would also go PT - ALL PT wood twists and warps- it's the nature of the beast. Make sure the installers use either stainless of TRIPLE hot dipped galvanized fasteners. You are correct that the PT methods have changed. The NEW PT is much more corrosive than the old and will corrode non-stainless fasteners quickly. The days of just buying a box of nails off the shelf are gone. You now have to match the fastener to the wood being used.
 
G
#14
Thanks. I had seen a show a while ago on HGTV or something, and they had said not to use concrete with wood. I wondered why.

I'll talk to my town to see what I'm allowed to put in. It's a Mayberry-type place. Most fencing here is wood picket, so that's why I was asking about 4' wood picket fence.
 

revstriker

Well-known member
Apr 21, 2008
117
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Texas
#15
Just one more note, and again, I'm not a builder or a fence expert: The situation may be different if you really have a lot of clay in your soil, or any kind of soil with poor drainage. It might not make a difference (the post may get saturated anyway). But the steel posts with concrete is always a sure bet.

I have seen on TV where they say you can use quick setting concrete, and poor it in a hole dry, and then add water to the hole after. Although I've never tried this, I always wonder if it really gets mixed correctly this way. I normally mix outside of the hole and then shovel it in.
 

stever

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Nov 25, 2007
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Escondido, CA (near San Diego)
#16
Connectors can also be purchased from Simpson:

http://www.strongtie.com/ftp/catalogs/C ... 8-p169.pdf

Home Depot or Lowes will get these/have these for you.

I strongly recommend not haveing the posts wood. Even PT wood will rot out. I'd say in concrete is better, but they both s**k. The earth in contact with the wood will keep it moist and the concrete will allow a nice pocket for moisture to get down into and stay (once the wood shrinks 1/8 inch as it normally does (unless you can afford kiln dried wood)).

PT wood is only surface treated. The core usually rots out. Remember if you do use PT to re-treat the cut ends. It'll make it a little better, bit the core will still rot eventually.

There is also a company (I can't find now) that makes a funky "u" shaped post with flanges that is 1.5" deep. The 2x cross-rails fit in it perfectly and the posts can have the slats applied right over them. I had this on my last house and it was great! really low profile and all you see is fence, no ugle steel posts. I'll look for this and post if I can find it.

Steve
 
G
#17
Stever, that sounds good -- one of my concerns was looks if I considered steel. This is a very old town. My house is 100 years old, an old vacation bungalow that has since been expanded. The whole neighborhood was built around the same time although some houses are even older.

Our soil is very sandy. No clay in most of South Jersey, although we do have some "marl pits" on lower ground near water where they find dinosaurs and other fossils.
 

stever

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Nov 25, 2007
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Escondido, CA (near San Diego)
#18
Shorelover said:
Stever, that sounds good -- one of my concerns was looks if I considered steel. This is a very old town. My house is 100 years old, an old vacation bungalow that has since been expanded. The whole neighborhood was built around the same time although some houses are even older.

Our soil is very sandy. No clay in most of South Jersey, although we do have some "marl pits" on lower ground near water where they find dinosaurs and other fossils.
I don't know if this is the exact same product we used, but it looks identical:

http://www.posts.aphanofasteners.com/index.html

It is a bent-plate perforated heavy-gauge steel post. About 1.5" flushes-out with the horizontal. They don't show it, but you can put a single picket over the post on the 'ugly' side. Or, if you want to spend the $$, a complete second set of pickets can be put on the other side and both sides would look the same.





Set the posts in concrete, don't let the pickets touch the ground, and you'll have a great-looking fence for a load of years! I'll sometimes put a third rail in to prevent sagging.... just a thought.

Steve
 
G
#19
Stever,
That looks good. Thanks so much! Do you have an opinion as to whether I should go with cedar for rails & pickets vs. PT? If cedar, anything I can do to prevent those carpenter bees from making it into swiss cheese?

thanks again,

Sue
 

stever

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 25, 2007
285
0
Escondido, CA (near San Diego)
#20
Shorelover said:
Stever,
That looks good. Thanks so much! Do you have an opinion as to whether I should go with cedar for rails & pickets vs. PT? If cedar, anything I can do to prevent those carpenter bees from making it into swiss cheese?
Sue
I don't know anything about carpenter bees. For moisture and (most) bug resistance, in California we commonly use cedar or redwood. Both of these have the natural ability to resist rot (more than others). PT does not look good IMHO -- too many little holes. Also some are worried about the arsenic in the PT chemicals (although this last year this has been reduced).

I have always used Cedar or Redwood -- at least in CA, these will last well for 20 years if they are not sitting in damp ground.

Steve