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Concrete posts for fencing?  RSS feed

 
                                      
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Hello! Brand new here, and learning as much as I can about homesteading before I take the plunge in a few years.

I've been reading about fencing (wow, lots of opinions on fencing out there!) and discovered concrete fence posts, both homemade and purchased.

Anyone use concrete posts for pasture/perimeter fencing?  Pros, cons, thoughts?

I know concrete isn't very environmentally friendly, but neither is dipping wood in used motor oil and then putting it in the ground!  I'm lazy (I'll be the first to admit it!) and I only want to do this once, so concrete seems like a really good idea.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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wow ambitious and expensive but probably permanent if done correctly !! want photos
 
                              
Posts: 19
Location: Alberta, Canada
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They are great for low lying spots that are constantly or seasonably wet. 

An easy(ish) way to make them on the spot is to take a plastic or black rubber type pipe the correct or preferred size and length.  I prefer the black rubber type(see below).  Cut it lenghtwise with a saw.  This creates a an expansion joint for removing the concrete post after curing.  Use some clamps (large hose clamps work well) to tighten the joint. 
I have a hole in the ground for the pipe to rest in for filling, just deep enough for it to stay standing. Add rebar for strength if desired or if it will be a corner post but don't let your rebar protrude through the bottom of the cement because it will rust up from the bottom.  Pour in your cement mix and let harden.  To release simply unclamp the hose clamps and slip form off the top (I reccomend letting them cure at least one week before using).

If you are in no rush for posts you can make one a day, only use (buy) one form, and mix small amounts of cement as needed.

Also they are heavy and care is needed if using a post pounder.  A piece of an old tire cut into a strip serves to protect the top of the post from the pounding plate and provide the length for you to hold it in position and keep your hands well away.  I prefer using my garden claw to dig just the right size hole (6 inches), it goes really fast.  I also cheat and use a shop vacuum with the garden claw off the tractor inverter since I have the tractor there anyway to carry the heavy posts.  That shop vac sucks the dirt right out of the holes from the claw. I can dig a nice round 3 foot deep by 6 inch hole in about 5 minutes this way.

Needless to say you can't hammer fencing staples into these but, you can insert the staples, insulators or other fasteners into the groove that you cut in the pipe and clamp them in place and pour your cement in around them.  Or if you use the black rubber type of pipe for your form you can add rings of something like a willow branch (peeled) or a strip of rubber tire or hose works awesome, to the inside of the form, screwed in from the outside.  This will create a small groove(s) in the fence post that you can use for wrappng your wire around.

I wouldn't want to fence many acres with these but they have their uses.
 
                                      
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wow, that's awesome info, thanks!  Never thought about using pipe as the form.  Everything I've read mentions making wooden forms, but the pipe makes perfect sense.

So far my biggest hang up with the idea is how to attach woven wire fencing to the concrete posts.

Thanks for the reply, that was great.
 
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you could also pour it on the spot in carpet/vinyl floor tubes
 
                              
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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You are most welcome for the info, and yes they can be poured in place too, with additional challenges if you want your form back.  We put in wet area posts in the winter when it will support the installation crew and machinery and they don't set and cure right when the temperature is too low, so premade is best then.  Cardboard tubes sound like a try. 
Baling wire aka single strand unbarbed would work for attaching mesh type wire to the posts with the grooves.... or maybe those plastic zip ties but how do they hold up to uv rays? I've seen baling wire stand up for decades in wet conditions even.
 
                                
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Good for wet spots, gate posts and corners, I wouldn't think it would be worth the money/labor for that 40 acre field.
 
Brenda Groth
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could you put a few metal eyes right into the concrete where the seam is in in your mold before pouring the concrete..so they would be "set" into the concrete..and give you eyes to hook your wire too..if you want something for electric put your insulators through the groove in the pipe before pouring and clamp it tight around them and then pour..some concrete might leak out if it leaves the opening too open..but i doubt it would be much
 
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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The carpet or vinyl floor method would also accept staples, if you were careful to pound them in prior to pouring the concrete, or at least before it was fully cured.

I think it's probably important to be able to change out any exposed metal, though. That's why the groove-around-the-post plus wire tie method sounds more practical to me.
 
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Wow, fascinating ideas!
 
Posts: 13
Location: Tennessee
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Concrete is used a lot in Hungary and Slovakia for fence posts and even telephone poles.  I've attached two pictures.  One is of a grapevine post and the other is a telephone pole.  Look at the design of the poles and how you might adapt your construction methods to make the posts a bit less expensive.




Brenda Groth wrote:
wow ambitious and expensive but probably permanent if done correctly !! want photos

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pollinator
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Allan.Sterbinsky wrote:
Concrete is used a lot in Hungary and Slovakia for fence posts and even telephone poles. 



They were using concrete power poles here in Canada a while back, but I notice many of them have since been replaced with wood again. I am not sure why. Treated wood posts last a long time, Our driveway and the side walk out front are only 25 years old. both show wear. Treated wood can last (even buried) as long as 50 years. Some times we forget how long ago the wood post we are replacing has been there... like maybe before our time. I am reading about dams (concrete) that are reaching the end of their life and are a hazard.... how long have we been building dams for power?

I am not sure concrete fence posts are the best use for that material.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Dams are a problem because silt builds up behind them; being heavier than water, it causes loads that the dams were not designed for.

Concrete structures are still in place from the Roman empire, and are gaining strength by the century. The old formula isn't nearly as energy-intensive as Portland cement-based recipes, and might help to ease your concern.

That said, I agree that wooden power poles last a long time. I understand that after the 1906 earthquake, there weren't enough glass insulators to go around, so lignum vitae from ships in the harbor was taken to local woodshops and turned into temporary insulators, some of which are still in place. Power poles can stay up for quite a while, if the insulators separating them from the wires haven't even been replaced in over a century.
 
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I think there are better uses for concrete, this sounds expensive and impactful.  Here is an idea: instead of forming and pouring posts with rebar, why not just pour concrete in the ground, insert heavy gauge rebar or metal fence posts for the uprights and be done with it.  Should last just as long and save you like 80% of the crete that you would have used?
 
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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I know this is an old topic, but living in Slovakia and having concrete vineyard posts around, I needed to put insulators in some.  The solution I came up with was to use a hammer drill to bore holes just smaller than the threads on screw in wood post ring insulators, and then put some polyurethane glue in the hole and screw the insulator in.  Now, a year later, because the neighbor decided to put up a chain-link fence along the posts, I went to unscrew the insulators.  It isn't possible!  They are very firmly bound in there.  I have a write up with photos on my website, in case the short description there isn't enough. https://www.freedomlives.net/index.php/Concrete_fencepost_insulators
It includes some testing I did of different possibilities for anchoring the insulators.

Otherwise, I use black locust posts for my fences.  The problem with the concrete posts here is that they were usually set in to concrete, so it isn't really possible / practical to move them, short of perhaps cutting them off at ground level, and then you'd need a really big angle grinder with a concrete disc.  Of course, if I'd be offered ever a bunch of un-anchored ones, I'd certainly take them.
 
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Honestly, I think the life span of a wooden post replaced every 15-20 years is more than enough for the speed and cost in which it is constructed and replaced. No treatment of preservatives or oil, and no quarrying, crushing, heating and transportation to make concrete, but if a permanent fence post is the answer for someone else, then I think a concrete hybrid is a better plan. It serves the purpose of never rotting out below soil, yet has all the wooden attributes of a fence post above soil.  It gives you nice aesthetics too.

 
Andrew Ray
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What's a concrete hybrid?

I also figure black locust will last me pretty long-- from what I've read 25+ years.  But I suppose there might be places in the world where a concrete post could be a cheaper option.
 
Travis Johnson
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A concrete hybrid is a fence post that has concrete for the part that is in the ground, then wood above ground. This is the best of both worlds. You get a post that is impervious to rot in the ground, yet you can staple, fix, install insulators with ease to the post above ground. It is also a lot easier to fabricate because there is not nearly as much mixing concrete. For asthetics you do not see industrial looking posts sticking up out of the ground, but rather wooden ones.
 
Posts: 571
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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In Australia concrete posts are popular and are purchased from concrete post factories.
They are vibrated in the moulds during pouring to get a consistent mix .

I use old 2inch galvanised posts, the same as street signs and chain wire fence posts.
They are readily available from wreckers yards and the tip. I use pipe clamps, which are galvanised heavy metal shapes that have one bolt through them to clamp them together.
I drill a 9 inch hole in the ground and set them in concrete, two poles about 8 feet apart along the fence line, to create the fence end or corner strain assemblies.
They have lasted at least 40 years thus far, do not rot, burn in a bush or grass fire and look good .
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