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Thread: What is the preferred method to set 6x6 fence posts?

  1. #1

    Question What is the preferred method to set 6x6 fence posts?

    I've mades fences before and I always placed concrete around a pressure treated post (4x4, 6x6, etc). Concrete would be rodded and the posts tapped to help consolidate the concrete and I would set braces and check for plumb.

    My next fence project is a 6' PT privacy fence using 6x6 PT posts. I was researching the possibility of using a bracket to set in the concrete during which I was surprised to see that there are those with the opinion that using gravel is a better method.

    Our soil conditions are basically sand, no clay, organics, etc.

    What method would you recommend? If it's gravel, please specify what type to order.

    Thanks in advance.

    Doug

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Mississauga
    Posts
    149

    Default Re: What is the preferred method to set 6x6 fence posts?

    Concrete. I set posts at least twice a week and have never had a problem. And with 6x6 posts there is no need for anything extra.

    3-4' hole, with a 10-12" diameter, concrete. Done.

    And if you really want to save yourself a lot of hassle, don't mix the concrete. Pour it in dry, and tamp with a thin rod to remove pockets (you can also shake the post a little to get it nice and set before tamping). Some people might complain about this, but as long as there is no real load (ie you would never do this for a pier or footing as consistency is much more important), it will give you all the strength you need and more. At first it's not different than gravel, and as concrete wicks moisture to the centre it will harden throughout. Just give it a quick soak when the fence is up.

    And I just know some people will complain about this method....and I also know none of them have any idea what they're talking about. They actually sell a bagged concrete for setting posts dry...however, it's a rip-off as its just contains less aggregate.

    Further proof (because I know there's somebody itching to lecture me about how concrete works because he built a patio or driveway once): http://www.packagepavement.com/setting_post_qk.html

    USING DRY FAST-SETTING CONCRETE DIRECTLY OUT OF THE BAG:
    Excellent results can be achieved under certain circumstances by pouring dry fast-setting Concrete Mix around the post directly from the bag, allowing ground moisture to finish the job. Pre-wetting the hole and pouring in a small amount of water after the dry mix will hasten setting.
    Last edited by HammeremmaH; 09-21-2010 at 12:42 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Muir, near Woodstock,Ont.
    Posts
    4,799

    Default Re: What is the preferred method to set 6x6 fence posts?

    I have built a lot of fences in the London area
    DSC00890-4.JPG
    with both 4x4 and 6x6 posts with 6x6 being the most common over the last 3 to 4 years that I built fences.I can show you fences that I built 30 years ago and they are still showing no signs of rot in the posts I have always dug the hole no deeper than 3 ft and filled around the post with concrete. I never used the bag stuff as I have a trailer that will carry 2 ton of gravel and I have never paid more than $25 for a load of " A " gravel and a bag of portland cement was costing me about $12. IIRC I could get about 8 posts set with 1 bag of Portland. I also never braced my posts as I found that once the concrete was poured they were steady enough to stand on their own. I have never used the bags of cement solely due to the cost involved and I have a couple of cement mixers.The gate showing was built about 4 years ago and as you can see it has a standard locking door passage set. The gate is put together with M & T joints held together with Polyurethane glue. I was in the area where the gate is a couple of years ago and the lock was still lined up. I was rather hesitant to put a regular lock set in but the owner was rather persistant so I gave it a try. Only one I have ever done with a regular passage set. When setting posts I always made sure the bottom of the hole was compacted. If your fence is in sandy soil I would not be concerned with your posts moving with frost. If you had heavy clay and a wet area it is a different story. There are many ways to build a fence and i found this way worked for me. PS the fence is not attached to the brick veneer although I have done it in the past.
    " It is nice to be important but more important to be nice"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Calgary, AB
    Posts
    923
    Real Name
    Jim

    Default Re: What is the preferred method to set 6x6 fence posts?

    I too have done hundreds and hundreds of posts. Basically, what you want to do is to enlarge the area around the post for improved lateral stability and fill any voids in the hole around the post. This can be achieved with concrete (even dry as it does not really have to set good) or with gravel.

    With concrete I just mix a really stiff mix (this is stronger too), and rod it to make sure it fills the voids. This way you do not need braces, though sometimes I do on the end posts so I can immediately stretch a line between for setting other posts. If left to stand without braces, it will only be a short while until the initial set of the concrete and the post is not in danger of moving.

    The gravel should be a well graded road mix. Gravel will be just as good as concrete with the exception of pulling straight out. It also has the benefit of being able to be adjusted at a later date, though this is not easy either. Basically the road crush forms a solid chunk that in effect provides the same level of stability as does the same mass of concrete. Tamp it in, in a very wet condition. If you have ever used road crush for sidewalks or pads, you know that if it gets rained on hard, it first goes mushy, but once it dries out a bit it is solid like a rock, even with no tamping. Heck it is good enough for most roads and a used on paved roads reduces the amount of asphalt required.

    If you are setting hordes of posts, gravel is a good option as it is very cost effective. This is not to say that concrete won't work well to, as it does.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

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