As part of the home improvement/home maintenance craze that's overtaken
the world our house, we put in a fence this weekend.
We live in a fairly new area. We house was built around 4 years ago. About 2 years ago a fence company came in, convinced 98% of our neighbours they *NEEDED* to put up a fence and within days, the view from our back windows changed from greenery and niceness to a pressure treated wood extravaganza.
Well, the times they are a changin' and now we want to put in a deck that necessitates the building of a fence. And so our story begins…
Earlier this week, our neighbour put a fence up on the left hand side of his property, with help from my husband and the neighbour whose property is adjacent to our neighbour's. This inspired the boys to go ahead and fence our section this weekend. When they put up the fence this week, they used fence post spikes instead of drilling post holes and securing the posts with concrete.
When it came time to discuss our section of fencing, our neighbour wanted to use fence post spikes again. We weren't sure about the stability of this product so we searched high and low for any feedback on the internet and we also asked around at home improvement stores. We only managed to come up with one anecdote of the spikes failing and it happened 7 years ago on a large length of fence. The fence that was put up this week is only 25 feet long (the same length as the fence we need built). The fence is anchored at one end to the house and at the other end to an existing fence that has its posts in concrete. Consensus between Home Depot employees was that the posts would be stable enough using spikes.
The section of fence that was completed last week went off without a hitch. 3 spikes, one sledgehammer, lots of muscles and boom — the spikes were in and level and it was all good. When it came to our section of fence, we weren't so lucky. 3 spikes, one sledgehammer, the same guy using the sledgehammer and boom — one of the spikes wasn't level. It actually had to be pried out of the ground and re-set. I (thankfully) wasn't here for that but when I did return, "Mr. CrankyPants" was a word that could have been universally applied to the men involved. I did what I think most women would do — I turned right around and made a trip to the beer store. If they didn't need the beer when they were finished, I did.
We have one more side of our yard to fence on our property and then 4 backyards will have been fenced. My husband asked if I still have the telephone number for a guy that comes and drills post holes and sets the posts for you. The frustration that everyone dealt with yesterday was enough to guarantee that we're getting the posts set in concrete for the final section of fence.
They guys aren't entirely happy with one out of 4 panels of fencing that they put in. It's partly because of the spikes. The cuff that the post sits in prohibits you from attaching anything to the post, below the cuff. And the cuff is 4 inches high. That makes a big deal in our backyard because we've got a very visible grade. It makes the amount of space under one side of the panel 4" and 7-8" on the other side of the panel. I've included some pictures for you to try to show the size of the cuff and the difference it makes at each end of a panel. Look at the bottom of the fence to see what I mean.
So, if you're going to use spikes, make sure you have someone try to hold them while you put them in (who wants to do this with a sledgehammer coming your way?) and don't wait until it is all the way in, to ensure that it is level.
One the one hand I'm happy the fence is going up. It means we can start on our deck soon. On the other hand I'm a little sad because I know it means we won't get the bunny rabbit visitor we usually get. We've never seen the rabbit but s/he leaves delightful tracks in the snow in the wintertime. It fascinates the kids. And yes, I will be busy staining the fence this week but I'll spare you the details on that. I'd actually like to spare myself the details on that. Between painting the front doors, painting the garage door, and the dresser I sanded and painted (first coat only, second coat goes on tonight), I'm a little home-reno'd out.
The other side of the fence is now complete. That would be the side with posts secured in concrete. We paid $25/post for someone to come in with a tractor and an auger and drill the holes. They poured the concrete and set/levelled the posts for us. According to my husband (who actually built the fence), it was easier to build the fence on the concrete post side than it was on the spike side. The main reason for this is because the posts were all level. On the spike side, the posts were never 100% level and the guys had to work to get them as level as possible and in some cases, they planed some of those posts to make wood fit. If our resident fence-builder had to use spikes again, one change he would make is that he would drive the spikes into the ground so deeply that the cuff (seen above) would not be visible above the ground. This would allow for a tighter fit between the bottom of the fence and the ground on our grade and would eliminate the need to cut the posts after the fence has been built. Obviously the concrete setting is more expensive than the spikes but from an observer's point of view, things moved along much more quickly with the concrete posts than the spiked posts. They had a much longer section of fence built (40 feet) built in less time than it took them to put up 26.5 feet. Hope that's helpful. I've gotten a lot of hits on this blog post indicating a great number of you are debating whether or not you should use spikes. If you have any questions, please ask and I'll forward them to the resident fence-builder and post a response.