Should my posts be set in concrete?

A question presented to us on a fairly regular basis!  Whether your fence, trellis, pergola or deck will be installed by a professional company, or it’s a DIY weekend project – the answer to this is a resounding yes.  Without a properly set concrete footer on every post the fence will eventually sag and fail structurally.  The only exception to this rule is if you’re installing a split rail fence or a pasture fence which is installed on t-posts.  If this is the case, you will need to tamp your posts into the ground.  In terms of setting a strong footer for your posts – it’s not as simple, though, as digging a hole and throwing in some concrete.  Adjustments and plans need to be made for the temperature outside, your location and sighting up your line.    If you’re only tackling a couple of posts – you can purchase a post hole digger for manual use.  If you are doing your entire backyard, it might be best to rent some equipment for the job.  You will also want to call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service to have your underground marked.  You need to provide them with 48 hours notice before you dig.


Our company is located in theCleveland,Ohioarea.  For the most part,Northern Ohioexperiences some pretty extreme weather conditions.  You will need to dig your hole so that it is below the freeze line.  InNorthern Ohiothat is 30” deep, however, depending on the city you live in they may require you to go 36” deep.  Certain cities also have footer inspections.  If you’re doing this yourself – you’ll need to arrange that footer inspection with your city.  If you have hired a contractor – you should expect your contractor to make those arrangements. 


Some common advice that seems to circulate the internet a lot is that it’s necessary to put gravel in the bottom of your hole.  We can not speak for every state, but we can tell you that inNorthern Ohiothat will successfully accomplish in heaving your post.  There’s not much point in going through the work of setting your own posts just to have to repair them in the next couple of years. If you’ve hired a contractor, and you observe this method being used when they are setting posts for you – this should raise red flags immediately.  It’s not unreasonable for you to request that a proper footer be set for every post.  You’ve paid for that service, and warranties are only good if the company actually shows up to honor them.  Something that seems to be more and more rare these days!  It’s worth the effort on your part to be sure that the company you’ve hired is doing the right thing!


There are a couple of special techniques that we recommend using when customers dig their own footers.  They are the same techniques our crews use when installing for our customers.  We’re happy to provide a tip sheet with drawings and suggestions to our material only customers.  This should make their DIY project easier, and ensure that they do not have problems with heaving posts later down the road.  It will also help the do it yourselfer set a solid footer that will keep their new fence in a nice straight line for years to come!


For additional information on products and services from Elyria Fence Inc. feel free to give us a call at 440-323-7581 or take a look at our site  We’re always happy to have visits to our showroom to kick off the planning of your fence, trellis, arbor or deck project! 



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