How to Install Vinyl Fence Posts (Picket Fence Series, Part 1)


– [Mike] Today, we’re gonna take a look, in a three-part series on installing this nice picket fence. Welcome to Tomahawk DIY, everyone. I’m Mike. Now, you’ll probably notice,
I’m wearing a different shirt than I usually do. Says, “By D Grace of God.” And if you haven’t heard of this story, you’ve gotta go check
out the YouTube channel, Pleasant Green. – I just returned from the most amazing, eye-opening, terrifying, and inspiring trip ever. – It’s just a phenomenal story, and goes along with the
mission of Tomahawk DIY by helping people in some of Earth’s most
dire circumstances. This video is part number one: how to install the post, which is one of the most important things. If you get this wrong, your fence is gonna look horrible. If you get it right, your fence should look great. The first step in getting
your fence installed is to mark the fence line with string, to ensure your posts
are lined up straight. Be sure to pull the string
tight using wooden sticks to secure it at each end. In my installation, the strings
cross at the corner post. So as you dig your holes, you wanna get it at least two feet deep. We’ve got a good length here, to get into the hole. Minimum you need is a foot and a half. This is, again, a picket fence, so it’s gonna be different for a bigger, full sized fence. So as you dig, you’re gonna run into
things like sprinkler pipes, rocks you gotta move, and obviously you’ll have to work through each of those items. Posthole digger makes pretty short work, digging out here, and getting a couple feet deep. This is the pile of dirt from the 17 holes. A good amount of soil, that you’ll need to set somewhere. You can all the holes have been dug, and each fence post set
loosely into its hole. My fence install have 17 posts, and two gates. For example, you can see in this hole there are two pipes; one that did not get broken, just to the side of the hole, and the second one that had to be broken to set our post on the fence line. We’ve got our fence posts lined up here for the picket fence. On the ground next to each post, we’ve placed and 80 pound bag of concrete that will be used in each hole. Each bag will be mixed in the posthole. We’re going to have two
gates on this project, you see one right here,
leading to the stone pathway. Be sure your gate locations
are planned out properly with the desired width of the gate. The posts for gates will have
metal reinforcing inside, to keep the gate nice and sturdy. The gate here is about
a four foot wide gate. The posts are just a hair
under five feet apart. You can see right here, where my toe is, that the inside to
inside of the gate posts is about four feet for the gate opening. Now from a spacing standpoint, we’re targeting about six
feet between each fence post. Obviously the odds of getting just the exact amount
of spacing between the fences, are pretty slim. So as you lay it out, you spray paint on the ground, along your line where each post goes, targeting our six feet. Then we’ve got some, I think this one on this
end’s about six and a half, and then down at the far end, one or two that are about seven feet. You don’t wanna span more
than about eight feet with this four foot tall picket fence. Six to eight feet, you know, ideally being
closer to six foot range, is where you wanna land. Now, over on this end, we’re running a bit shorter. The fence posts are five
feet from post to post. We’re spacing them out evenly to ensure it looks nice. At this end, we have a gate post and then the corner of the house, about ten feet apart. So splitting the difference gives the five foot spacing in this section. Each of these fence
posts are six feet tall, so that’s about two feet
that can be underground. Then you can see, they’re notched out here already, so you’ve got to know
where your corners are; where your gates are going to be, and which ones are straight so they can be precut in the shop to make your installation easier. Into each fence post hole, we’re putting an 80 pound
bag of concrete mix, like this Quikrete mix. So we’ve got our post nice and level, and we’re dumping the concrete in now. So we’re gonna get it
all around on all sides. Some of it down the hole, into the center of the post. Put a full 80 pound bag in. We’re looking to make sure it is lined up nice and
straight with the string. So you can see we’re checking to be sure it’s
nice and plum there. Checking the same thing on this side. You can see right here, we’ve got the sting lined up all the way down the fence line with each post. This ensure proper alignment of the posts, so you have a straight fence. The dry concrete mix has
been placed around each post. We have not yet worried
about getting the posts the correct height; just aligning them with the string and being straight up and down. Now is the time to set
the vertical of each post. Use a string, run along the top of the posts to figure out which
posts require adjustment up or down. With the concrete in dry concrete powder, you can easily adjust each post. Be sure to check that each post is set to the right height, remains plum, and the lower string shows that the posts are still
sitting square and aligned down the row of posts. A trick to pulling the string tight, is to wrap it around the wooden stake. Then use your foot to apply pressure, pulling the string tight, and finish pounding the
stake into the ground. This is the corner fence post. This post sets the
height of all the posts, so you want to be sure this
one is at the right height. The string is set at 50 inches
above the bottom cut out to the top of the post. Now, with that 50 inch measurement, we can set each post down the line to have 50 inches from the string measured down to the bottom
of the lower cut out. This will ensure that the top
line of your fence is level, regardless of variations in
ground height, up or down. So this is our middle post in the length. We’ve just set the string
to the correct height for the entire length of the fence, between one corner post and
the existing neighbor’s fence. You can see the string is
set to height at one corner. Then, pull it taught to
the far end of the fence. Finally, adjust the
height of the middle post, so you can adjust the height,
the length of the fence. Let’s take a closer look at
setting the height of a post. First, ensure dry concrete was filled inside the bottom of the post. Then, pull the post up
to reach the string, or if necessary, pound it down with a metal mallet, like this three pound sledge. All the while, using your level, ensure the post remains plum and vertical. Move it up or down until it’s lined up properly
with the top of the string. Hopefully you can see here, we’re looking for the sting to be just barely touching, or hover slightly above the post. You want to raise or lower
the height of the post in the dry concrete to
align it with the string. Remember, you have the two end posts and a middle post, setting the height. If we look at the next post down, it’s the middle post, so the string is actually
resting on top of that post. Whereas this post, it’s just a hair below the string. That prevents us from
pushing the string up. Three posts here. This is the one we are using as our guide, that we set originally. You can see there’s a gap
on the string with that one. And then looking at the last post, we need to have it set
at the right height. Then down here, we’re setting this one at the end of the line. This part starts to get a little tricky. We’ll know this is the right height when our guide post string
is in the right spot. This one is our hinge post. We’re checking the level with the string. We need to make sure our gate is level. Now we’re putting water
into the dry concrete. You’ll notice we’re not mixing
the water and the concrete, just simply filling the water up and letting it soak into the concrete. This particular post does
not have any concrete inside the post, because it’s a gate post that will have a metal sleeve going inside
for the gate structure. Here’s a different post, not for a gate. In these, we put some
concrete powder inside and are filling water
inside to set the concrete. Now the reason we’re not
mixing the water and concrete is because we’ve set the
posts to the right height, nice and vertical, and we don’t want to do
anything to disturb that. So just pour water onto
the concrete powder to soak in and cure the concrete. Now this is an important point. You can see this is a
hinge post on a gate. It is cut out for the
rails to go in on one side; the other side does not have a cut out, because no rails go through. That’s where the gate
hinges will be secured. Now this side of the gate
is where the latches go. Inside the hinge post,
we will be putting metal, because we don’t have the
metal hinge post sleeve ready today. We’re not putting the concrete inside yet. This will happen after
the sleeve gets installed. Our gate is sitting exactly at 48 inches between the two posts. It’s important to have
the measurements correct when you buy the parts, because you need to leave
a couple inches for hinges, latches, clearances, and adjustment room. So the actual gate dimension
is going to be about 45 or 46 inches, due to the clearances. It’s been about five minutes. You can see the water has soaked in, and the concrete’s looking soft. If we look inside the post, you can see there’s still
standing water soaking in, which is okay. It’s been a few minutes, and the concrete is starting to set. We’re double checking the
posts are plum and vertical. If any are out of alignment, now is the time to make adjustments, before it sets further. At this corner post, there’s an interesting trick. We have the string lined
up nice and straight, past all the posts. But this corner’s not an
exact 90 degree angle; it’s a bit less, maybe 80 degrees. So the corner on one side had the string just touching one corner
of the square post, creating an angle, like my finger is. Similarly, on this side, it had the same space down here, where my fingernail is. Now that the water had gone down, I’m going to cover the top
of the concrete with soil, making it flush. Eventually the grass will
grow back around that. As you can see, getting
the fence posts installed takes a good bit of work, but isn’t too complicated. Getting the posts installed is probably more difficult than actually putting the rails
and slats between the posts. There we have it. You saw how we installed the rails. Fairly easy. If you know what you’re doing, get your rail and your
pickets put in place. Thanks so much from Tomahawk DIY. Don’t forget to go check out
the Pleasant Green channel, where I got this shirt, and find out the story behind it. It’s just an amazing story. Check out part two in this series on installing a vinyl picket fence. Much of what we discussed
will be quite similar for a full height vinyl fence as well. Now I hope you found this video helpful. Leave some comments. Please like the video. Subscribe. Go watch the next one in the series, and have a great day.

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