Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Driven Post Dilemma

There is a new approach with which some fence companies are experimenting.  It involves installing fences on small steel posts that are driven into the ground.  It effectively eliminates the standard concrete footing and is fast and cheap, but homeowners may be surprised to learn the consequences of this short-sighted method.

The image shows a steel post inserted into the ground and then a PVC post sleeved over the top (other fence products may be installed similarly).  The benefits of this method are heavily weighted in favor of the contractor: it is faster, cheaper and has easy clean-up.  

But the long term consequences of driving steel posts are substantial: 
  • the posts can become loose, wobble and lean 
  • the steel posts are undersized to support a normal lateral load (like wind)
  • not suitable for rocky, sandy or loose soil 
  • not suitable for wet ground conditions
  • not recommended by any fence manufacturers 
  • possible warranty issues  

Concrete set posts, on the other hand, are a tried and true method of installing fences in MN.  Some advantages are:
  • Provides more strength and stability
  • Keeps the fence plumb and straight
  • Prevents lateral movement and wobble
  • Greater wind load capacity
  • Industry standard and practiced throughout the country
  • Preferred method of fence manufacturers
  • Proven to withstand MN weather
  • Suitable for all soil types
  • More predictable performance that homeowners and contractors can rely on 
Experimental methods are a good value if they satisfy short term and long term needs.  As shown above, the driven post method is a risky approach and can lead to problems for which homeowners are not prepared and can't afford.

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Thanks for reading,