10:05AM | 04/21/04
Member Since: 02/12/04
12 lifetime posts
I have seen the DIY shows on TV advocating the use of gravel to sink treated wood fence posts for years, yet the majority of contractors who do this work still use concrete.

I am building a 6' tall pressure treated wood fence. The holes will be 9" diameter, 42" deep (I live in Alberta, Canada) drilled by a tractor, and the posts will be 4x4x10' pressure treated. The contractor doing the drilling is also bidding to sink the posts in 2 bags concrete/hole.

I am considering sinking the posts myself by just filling around the post with gravel up to the top. I will save myself a lot of cost, effort, and the TV shows say the fence lasts longer because water is not held in contact to the wood.

I would appreciate any opinions on this. Will the fence be soft? Will the gravel withstand frost heaves? Thanks.


10:25PM | 04/21/04
Member Since: 07/01/03
558 lifetime posts
The main problem with gravel backfill is adequate compaction. Concrete is a semi liquid and tightly adheres to the hole and post making a stable post that doesn't move. I have never been able to get that long term result from gravel. I used gravel backfill on a horse fence and would never do it again. The replacement fence was done with concrete backfill. Especially around gates and anyplace subject to lateral stress, concrete works better. Gravel might be fine for a garden or decorative fence, but if people sit on it, or it contains livestock, go with cement.


07:11AM | 04/22/04
Member Since: 01/14/03
265 lifetime posts
My personal and professional experience has always been to use gravel and not concrete in these situations. Gravel can, indeed, be compacted sufficiently to hold fence posts in place. And the gravel will allow water in the ground to drain away, where as concrete will hold the water around the post longer. And that's not a good thing. Set wood 'on' concrete, not 'in' it.


09:47AM | 04/22/04
Member Since: 02/12/04
12 lifetime posts
Thanks for the info!

I have a related question. I am trying to build a fence that is somewhat distinctive for not a lot more money than a standard squarish privacy fence.

One design that I am considering is to use 6x6 posts 8 ft on center, 3 2x4 stringers between them, and the fence slats all cut to a point on top...essentially a 6 ft tall picket privacy fence.

Do the mitre cuts at the top of a picket do an adequate job of preventing water from seeping into the end grain and discoloring the slats, or is this design bad and a top cap piece mandatory? Thanks.


02:52AM | 04/23/04
Member Since: 01/14/03
265 lifetime posts
If it's pointy pickets you want, then you should stay with your design. Pickets have been around for...welll...a very long time. And the end grain has always been exposed. It used to be that all pickets fences were painted, and painted with lead paints we can't use anymore. The end grains were pretty much sealed by the paint, so water didn't get in until fence maintenance came to a stop. Same thing today. End grains are the same, paint isn't, and many times maintenance isn't. And it won't matter if it's a pointy picket, or flat across the top. The end grain, if not sealed, will suck up the water like a sponge.


Post a reply as Anonymous

Photo must be in JPG, GIF or PNG format and less than 5MB.


type the code from the image


Post_new_button or Login_button

Deep blue grays like the shade shown in this example "have a nautical, serene feeling," says Amy Hendel, designer for Hend... Built on a rocky island in the Drina River, near the town of Bajina Basta, Serbia, this wooden house was cobbled together ... Large steel-framed windows flood the interior of this remodeled Michigan barn with daylight. The owners hired Northworks A... Edging formed with upside-down wine bottles is a refreshing change. Cleverly and artistically involving recycled materials... A Washington State couple called on BC&J Architects to transform their 400-square-foot boathouse into a hub for family bea... Similar to the elevated utensil concept, hanging your pots and pans from a ceiling-mounted rack keeps them nearby and easy... Few projects are more fun than upcycling a vintage piece in a surprising way. Outfitted with a sink and a delicately tiled... The thyme growing between these stepping stones adds a heady fragrance to strolls along this lush, low-maintenance garden ... Decoupage is an easy way to add any paper design to your switch plate, whether it is wallpaper, scrapbook paper, book page... Twine lanterns add pops of crafty—but sophisticated—flair to any outdoor setting. Wrap glue-soaked twine around a balloon ... When securely fastened to a tree or the ceiling of a porch, a pallet and some cushioning make the ideal place to lounge. V... Reluctant to throw away any of those unidentified keys in your junk drawer? Hang them from a few chains attached to a simp... A stripped-down model, sans screened porch, starts out at $79,000. Add the porch, a heated floor for the bath, and all the... Salvaged boards in varying widths and colors make up the dramatic accent wall in this attic space. The high-gloss white of... This garden shed has been decked out to the nines. Designer Orla Kiely created the intimate home for a flower trade show, ...
Newsletter_icon Google_plus Facebook Twitter Pinterest Youtube Rss_icon