Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Don't fence me in.

     Today I am going to ramble on about fences. The idea for this topic was given to me by C Lee Reed @ if you are a mom or dad you should check her blog out there is good stuff in there. I want to focus specifically the wooden privacy type that typically comes in pre-assembled 6' X 8' panels and is attached to posts sunk in the ground. This is a good project for a homeowner but you need a strong back and the basic tools. The project gets more complicated if you have uneven terrain you need to follow and there are a few methods for dealing with this but first of all you need to set the corners and gate posts. These are normally the only posts I would set in concrete unless it is an extremely long run of fence. My reasoning is thus..a 6' X 8' solid panel is basically a big sail and when it catches the wind a huge amount of pressure is put on the posts holding it upright. Now logic would seem to dictate that this means concrete to create a stronger installation. The reverse is actually true.
       If you've ever carried a fence panel or even sheet of plywood in a high wind situation you know the stress it can exert. A fence post anchored in concrete does not have the flex needed to absorb this stress. The force is exerted entirely at the point where the post can no longer move and that is where it meets the concrete. This the spot the post will break. A post not anchored in this fashion is not as likely to break since the dirt allows more flexibility. And think about even if one does break do you really want to have to dig up a big chunk of concrete to replace a post? The corners need to be sunk in concrete because they need to be plumb and stay that way. Any gate posts need it for the same reason plus the need to support a gate and it's hardware.
       How you deal with differences in elevation depends on circumstance and severity. If it is minor differences you need to cope with well then its just a matter of allowing the fence to organically flow or you can pull a string across the posts from corner to corner at the desired height. using the string as a guide you can mark and cut your post tops and use them as a guide to set the panels. If the differences in elevation are extreme you probably want to step your panels up or down and cut the post tops after installation. I hope these tips help and thanks once again to C Lee Reed at get on over there for tips on things I don't understand like raising children.