Deciding to put up a new fence on your property not only means selecting a practical fence style, you’ll also need to determine what to use for the foundation. The two most popular post materials used to construct a wire fence are treated wood and steel t-posts. Many times, property owners choose to use a combination of these materials.
Tension from a properly installed fence should fall to the ends of the enclosure. Therefore, the corners and braces should be built with heavy-duty wooden posts to withstand the pressure exerted by the pull of the wire. Solid wood posts are recommended for corner bracing and for intermittent support. However, the majority of fence posts could be steel t-posts. For most wire fencing, using steel t-posts along the perimeter is an excellent choice. This low-cost alternative provides superior strength and durability. Plus, t-posts are much easier to install than wood posts.
There are two popular weights, or strengths, of t-posts on the market. Choosing the proper post depends on the size of your enclosure, the type of wire fencing being installed, the spacing between posts, and the expected animal pressure against the completed fence. T-posts are made of high-quality steel that holds up to pressure and the environment. The strength of a t-post is rated by the amount of steel per foot. Regular t-posts are used for most applications, and typically weigh about 1.25 pounds per foot. Heavy-duty t-posts weigh around 1.33 pounds per foot and are generally used for high-pressure situations. For longevity, all t-posts are treated to prevent rust with either a coating of paint or galvanization for years of service.
T-posts are available in a variety of heights. When it comes to selecting the proper t-post for your project, choose a post that is 24″-36″ taller than your finished fence. That’s because the post will need to be buried at least 2′-2-1/2′ feet deep to prevent weather changes or determined animals from pulling them out.
Studded t-posts feature bumps, or studs, on one side of the post. These are designed to securely fasten the wire fencing to the posts to prevent the wire from slipping or pulling away.
Planning Your T-Post & Wire Fence Installation
Before installation of t-posts begins, be sure to have the proper tools and materials:
- T-post driver: A manual or powered t-post driver can make installation much easier.
- Tape measure: Mark the spacing between each post and assure posts are installed at a consistent height.
- String or wire: A spool of wire or ball of string will help keep the fence line straight during installation.
- Come-a-long: This tool pulls the fence taught before attaching to the fence to t posts.
- Wire clips: Securely attaches fence to t-post studs to keep the wire in place and prevent excessive movement.
- Fence plier or bender tool: Helps wrap the wire clips around the fence material and t-post.
- Fence stays: Optional support keeps barbed wire from sagging between posts.
The typical spacing of posts is between 8′ and 12′. The distance should be determined by the type of fence and the amount of support that the fence needs in order to stay taught. Animal pressure and weather conditions are serious considerations when it comes to how much reinforcement is needed. Red Brand provides spacing guidelines here.
Measure and lay out the posts before you begin installation. This will assure that the posts are properly spaced. Typically, a 5 to 1 ratio of steel t-posts to treated wood posts is recommended for superior stability. Keep in mind that for barbed wire, fence stays can help prevent excess movement between strands. And, for woven fence, the closer the posts are to each other, the stronger the enclosure. Assessing the behavior of the animals you are protecting will help determine how much support you need to keep them safe. A docile herd of cattle won’t challenge a fence the same way a rambunctious stallion will.
Installing T-Posts & Fence
The studs of the posts all need to face the same direction, as they provide a place for the clips to be secured and prevent the wire from slipping downward after installation. Determine if you are keeping animals in or predators out. The side of the fence that will endure the most pressure should be the side that the post studs face. When the fencing is challenged, the posts will help hold the wire in place, instead of allowing the wire to push away from the supports.
The flare, or faceplate, at the bottom of the t-post should be set perpendicular to the enclosure and completely buried during installation. The posts need to be deep enough to remain in place during weather changes and to provide stability from animal pressure. Be sure to keep the posts straight as you drive them into the ground. Once the plate is secured in the soil, it shouldn’t be a problem to keep them aligned.
When it’s time to secure the fence with wire clips, follow these tips:
- For barbed wire installation, start with the lowest strand first and work up.
- The number of clips used on a t-post varies, depending on the amount of force expected. More clips will result in a sturdier fence.
- Animals may attempt to raise the wires in order to slide underneath the fence, so clips at the bottom of the fence are essential.
- Do not over-stretch the wire; it should be taught but not ‘banjo tight’. Be sure the crimps in the fence remain after installation, as they are designed to adjust to varying temperatures.
Building a fence with t posts, along with regular check-ups and routine maintenance will result in a safe, secure, and long-lasting enclosure for your animals.
For more information on fence installations, go to Red Brand’s extensive video library for tips, tricks and advice. You can also ask your local Red Brand dealer for help with proper selection of fencing and materials.
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