Fences are built to last. Typically, a well-installed and maintained metal fence
However, various factors such as age, rust, or rot can lead your fence, especially the fence posts, to need replacement.
Fence posts are a key structural element of fences. Therefore, when you observe breakage, rot, or any other defect on your fence post, you should be ready to repair or replace it.
Here’s what you need to know about fence posts repair and replacement and how to know if it’s time to have your fence checked.
The Variations Between Different Types of Fence Posts
Concrete, wood and steel are the most common choices for fence posts. Choosing the best for your fence installation requires weighing the pros and cons of each, primarily based on installation, durability, and long-term and short-term costs.
Due to their weight, concrete fence posts are often considered the most labor-intensive to install, repair, or replace. An extra pair of hands will be required for an efficient and safe job. Therefore, any work on them will likely take longer.
Wood is easier to install. It’s lighter than concrete and thus requires less effort to move the posts around. However, you’ll often find about two people helping to install, repair, or replace wooden fence posts for the best results.
Both of these materials require approximately 4-foot-deep post holes. Therefore, it’s recommended that you use a powered post hole digger or auger to make the task much easier.
Metal or steel fence posts are often the easiest to install. They’re lighter than concrete and wood and can be installed with a manual t-post driver, reducing installation costs.
Security and durability are crucial considerations when deciding on a post material. A fence post that is highly susceptible to wear and tear will not serve well in the long run. Also, fence posts that can get damaged easily pose a safety risk to your land and the livestock within the fencing.
Concrete fence posts are durable and can last about 20 years with minimal maintenance. However, excessive rain and wind can cause chips and cracks on concrete fence posts, leading to damage or instability.
Treated wood fence posts can last between 10-15 years, depending on the type of wood. Untreated wood fence posts often last under 5 years. Rotting, warping, and splitting are the most common damages on wood fence posts.
Metal or steel fence posts last the longest, up to 25 years, with minimal maintenance. These posts are not susceptible to splitting, rotting, warping, or cracking, and can withstand wind speeds up to 110mph when properly installed.
Long-Term and Short-Term Costs
Pricing of fence posts should be looked at in more than just short-term costs. Cheaper fence posts, like wood, may be initially appealing but require more frequent repairs or replacement. More expensive options, such as steel fence posts, are often the most cost-effective in the long run.
On rural properties, a combination of two materials will likely be used to construct a sturdy and affordable fence. Wood or concrete is typical for corner and brace posts, while steel t-posts suffice in the middle of each row.
How You Can Tell Whether Your Fence Post Needs to Be Replaced or Repaired
In most cases, your fence posts will need replacement or repair depending on various factors, such as weather and insect infestation. Most professionals advise regularly inspecting your fence posts for signs of damage or degradation, such as rot, rust, cracks, termites, or breakage.
Minor damages that don’t cover a large portion of the fence post, such as termite damage that covers less than 30%, are often handled by a simple repair job. Such fence posts are often still structurally sound.
However, extensive damage where the fence post can be easily pulled off the ground or is bent or broken will often need the replacement of the entire fence post. Attempting repairs on severely damaged fence posts will often cost more than replacing them.
With proper upkeep, most fences will last 20 to 50 years. At such an old age, it will only be natural that the fence posts will need replacement as part of an entire fence overhaul.
What You Should Consider Before Doing a Fence Post Repair or Replacement
Before deciding whether you should repair or replace a damaged fence post, you should consider the following:
- The extent of the damage – Ensure you’ve carefully assessed the condition of the entire fence line and nearby posts to determine whether a complete fence overhaul makes more sense.
- Alleviate the problem – Fence posts rarely degrade quickly. Inspect posts regularly to unearth and deal with any underlying causes of damage to ensure you don’t have to repeat the repair or replacement job unnecessarily.
- Consider a quick-fix solution – There are plenty of quick-fix products designed to repair cracks and breaks in damaged fence posts. Depending on the extent of the damage, this may be the best option compared to spending a lot of time and money on replacements.
Using Fence Post Spikes for Fence Installation and Repair
Most wood fence posts are fixed to the ground using concrete anchors. However, due to improper installation techniques, the posts may not be firmly secured to the ground, leading to potentially serious fence damage or failure.
Instead of using concrete post anchors for repair, you can use fence post spikes as an alternative. Wood fence posts fixed in fence post spikes are less likely to rot than wood-in-concrete posts.
Fence post spikes allow the placement and removal of fence posts without digging the large holes required in a concrete installation. A fence post anchor is generally more robust, easier to install, and lasts longer than a concreted post.
However, they’re often less stable since the tapered tip offers less torque. Moreover, they’re more susceptible to frost heaving, where the posts are pushed upwards and outwards by ice forming in the soil over winter.
Hammering staples into the wood post or adding 2×4 scraps at the bottom helps reduce heaving.
Work with a Reputable Fencing Partner
Installing a fence can be very expensive. You don’t want to repair or replace your fence often, which can further balloon the costs. Therefore, talk to a trusted fencing professional who’ll direct you to the best fencing solution for your needs.