Fence posts best set in crushed stone
Ask the Builder
Q: I have a 5 1/2-foot-tall wood privacy fence. The 4-by-4 posts, set in concrete, keep cracking. What’s going on?
A: My money would be on strong winds as the culprit. You would be stunned at the amount of force wind can exert on a solid fence.
The concrete surrounding the posts might also be contributing to the breakage. The stiff concrete offers little release of pressure and allows the posts to snap.
I think fence posts should be set in crushed stone. The stone gives ever so slightly in high winds. If the fence tilts after a windstorm, you can replumb the fence posts easily.
You can also switch to larger fence posts to see whether that helps, although a 6-by-6 post might not look right.
You can soften the appearance of posts by clipping each of the corners at a 45-degree angle.
Realize that there is a vast difference in bending and cracking resistance across wood species. Douglas fir, oak and No. 1 Southern yellow pine are strong species. Cedar, though attractive, is not as strong.
Tim Carter is a columnist for Tribune Content Agency. He can be reached via his website, http://www.ask thebuilder.com .