How to Protect a Wooden Post from Rotting in the Ground

Did your fence post rot out? Or maybe your mailbox fell over this morning and you don't understand why. Well, these tips may help stop this from happening to you again (or at least prevent it for longer).

Steps

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    Regardless of whether you're using the post for a fence or a mailbox, remember that water is the enemy. The best way to keep your post from rotting itself out of the ground is to sink it in cement. (Dig a hole, put the post in, pour the cement, smooth the cement, write your name in the cement, have your kid put his hand print in the cement, let it cure.) It's pretty much entombed in there, and it won't rot.
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    Treat the wood for wood boring insects common to your area (ie termites, powder post beetles, carpenter ants...). A good, historical method for this is the use of creosote. It is used mainly to weatherproof the post, but it is also great for repelling insects. Aside from this, there are many other modern chemicals used for bug-proofing posts. Ask your pest control agency which one would be best for you.
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    Using a good wood may help prolong the problem, though it will still eventually rot out if not set in concrete and moisture gets to it. Here are some different types of wood commonly used for fencing.
    • Spruce - Untreated spruce picket fences and cross rails are most commonly used in prefabricated 4x8 or 8x6 foot picket and stockade-fence sections that you find at your local hardware store. These are then installed between pressure-treated fence posts.
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    • Pine - Pressure treated for subterranean termites - besides having pressure treated pine, it is good to coat the lumber with water repellent stain to prolong the life of wood.
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    • Cypress - Natural chemical Cypretine - Red Cypress is an all-natural aromatic wood that is grown in the swamps of Florida. Noted for its color consistency, density, hardness and relative lack of knots, cypress is a superior wood.
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    • Cedar and Red Wood - This is the best wood for fencing in or around your house as it is beautiful and has a longer life. But because it is high in demand, it more expensive as well.
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    • The best and most elegant woods for fencing come from evergreens, which are soft woods containing resins that naturally repel molds, termites and other boring insects. The best known is California redwood; heartwood of this tree will last for 25 years or more without treatment.
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    If you don't feel comfortable pouring cement, are unable to use insecticides, and can't find a wood you feel confident in, you may consider using a metal post instead. Metal is a much more durable material when building a fence or putting up a mailbox post. Although you will probably have to occasionally spray paint it with a product like Rustoleum to keep it from rusting, you will likely never need to replace it.

Tips

  • When you dig the hole, a good depth is at least a fourth of the way up the post so it won't tip over.

Warnings

  • Be very cautious using woods that are wet/uncured. As the wood dries out it will shrink and if it is surrounded by concrete a pit will form underneath your post. Water will collect here contributing greatly to wood rot.

Article Info

Categories: Walls Fences and Decks