There are many advantages to choosing durable, attractive Colorbond fencing to enclose your land or property, but even the toughest fence won't stand up to much of a beating if its fence posts aren't properly installed. Laying down footings to keep your fence posts stable and secure is vital when it comes to installing any fence, and since steel fences and fence posts are somewhat heavier than traditional wooden ones, their footings need to be strong and well laid to provide the years of fine service you expect.
Preparing your ground
A little preparation before you can begin can save you a lot of headaches in the future, so make sure your chosen ground is suitable for fence post installation before you begin. Take note of the composition of the soil -- loose, loamy or sandy soils will require you to dig deeper pits for your post footings, while pits in firm clay or rocky soil can be shallower. It's best to do this before purchasing your fence posts, as deeper holes will naturally require longer posts.
You should also check with local authorities to ensure that subterranean water or gas pipes do not run under the area you have chosen. You can also attempt to level out slopes and uneven spots if you so choose, although fences can be raked or slit with tin snips to fit the contours of more uneven ground.
The pits you dig for your fence footings should have relatively straight, parallel sides -- this will not only make the footing stronger a whole, but it will assist you in properly aligning your posts prior to concreting. Once your pits have been dug (remember to space them at the appropriate distance) you can lower your posts into the pits until they stand at the height you want. Make sure they are laid straight with a spirit level, and hold them in place with temporary braces while you lay down the footings. Make sure that bottoms posts do not come into contact with bare earth, as this can decrease the strength of your footings and cause corrosion in the bases of your posts.
Laying your footings
Using a standard concrete mix, you can then begin to lay your footings. Keep a few things in mind while you are laying the concrete:
- Make sure your concrete is moist -- but not too moist. Concrete that is not properly wetted and mixed prior to laying will dry and cure unevenly, leave weak spots in the footings. On the other hand, concrete that is too wet will take much longer to dry and can be difficult to slope.
- You should pour the concrete until the top level is parallel to ground level. However, the concrete should slope up slightly towards the base of the post itself, as this will increase water drainage and protect your posts from collecting corrosion-causing pools of moisture. These slopes will also help prevent soil and dirt accumulating against the sides of the post, which can have similar damaging effects.
- For added security and peace of mind, you should also vibrate your footings after they have been laid. This will eliminate any voids or air pockets in the concrete before they harden and become permanent, further increasing the durability and longevity of your footings.
If you have questions, contact a company like Amazing Fencing.