Fence Posts

Having a sixty-foot wooden privacy fence erected and am getting way too much varying advice. Some guys use concrete for the posts and some don't (though they give basically the same estimates). We are in southwest Florida near a lake. A neighbor did his 10 years ago without concrete and his fence is fine. He told us that if you put the posts in concrete, you can never alter or change anything about the fence. Our handyman advises us to use concrete. I'm also up in the air about the wood. One guy swears by compressed pine, though I thought it was pretty ugly, and he said arsenic was not a problem. We are being given way too many choices for this simple fence and we really don't know what would be best at this point. The more I try to research it on the net, the more confusing it gets.
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this interesting note:

There are different ways to achieve the same end. Personally, I'd never set any fence posts without concrete. As for the treated lumber, it is my understanding that the arsenic has been removed from the formulation used to treat the wood. But if you don't like the look of that product then why even bother to think about it at all since you won't be buying it?
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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<< We are being given way too many choices for this simple fence and we really don't know what would be best at this point. >>
The pros in our area (midwest) tend to use concrete on end and gate posts on small fences and concrete on all posts on the heftier fences. The thinking seems to be that the more massive concrete section gives the structure more stability. This is also used for pole buildings for the same reasons. The posts for chain link in our locale other than ends and gates are usually just pounded into the soil (rocks are rare here). Of course, telephone and power poles are seldom set in cement. Sooner or later somene will want to remove or modify the fence, and having that big chunk of cement to deal with will make the job much meaner. For only 60 feet, I'd go for the two ends and a middle (maybe) in cement.. HTH
Joe
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How tall a fence? Is it a 60 foot straight run? Can wind pass through the fence, or is it completely faced?
Dave

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Well, you've come to the right place. No way any advice you get on the internet will vary in opinion, since everyone here is a professional fence installer in your area.

Oops. I take the first crack back, I do happen to be in your area. Though not a professional fence installer.

Base you decision first on looks. A long-life fence you think is ugly will be ugly that much longer. Locally (Naples) the synthetic materials will long outlast even pressure treated wood. Vinyl and concrete are very popular, depending on the look you want. Traditional woods, like cypress, do very well, though you'll have maintenance. A properly installed and maintained wood fence will last quite well.
For treated wood, the main issue is the fence can't be stained/painted until the wood has had time to leech. That's about six months here. Stains are lower maintenance, but don't expect no maintenance in SW Florida on a wood fence.
Concrete for posts is a different decision. The sandy loam locally does a good job of holding posts in place, but many prefer to pour a concrete base and use an anchor bolt or bracket to hold the post. This keeps the wood out of the ground, and if the base holds the wood a few inches off the soil, gives you an opportunity to watch for termite action. Yes, even in PT wood here. There is no frost heaving, but wind load codes can affect your choices here. Locally you'd need a permit for anything over 50', so talk with your building department about acceptable choices.
Lastly, the key locally is the installer as much as anything. Use someone you trust, whether it's a fence company or a handyman. The better companies will guarantee work for a period of time, and it's not unusual to have an issue crop up after a year that needs attention. Depending on materials, style, etc. you could be paying upwards of $1,000 for 60 feet of fence, you don't want to spend that every two or three years because of installation issues.
All that said, the last fence I put in here is wood, dog-eared pickets and 4x4 posts sunk in quick-set concrete. PT lumber with a solid stain. But that's the style that matches the yard, I'd have done vinyl if I could have gotten the right look. I pressure wash twice a year, and restain about every other year, fence and decking. I have a trellis section that is 4x4 PT posts on concrete piers, with a vinyl lattice, painted. It gets virtually no maintenance and is doing fine.
Good luck on your project, whichever way you decide to go.
Jeff
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Suzanne wrote:

Random thoughts:
Metal posts set in concrete will NEVER rot. You can tear down the fence in "X" years and replace it in a day by not having to fuss with the posts.
Removing the concrete plugs is easy if you know how (hint: think automobile jack and bit of chain). Don't let eventual removal dissuade you from the concrete.
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This is turtle.
i'm not in the fence building business at all but just see a lot of fence put up by businesses in the Commercial Building in the area. I see them use two types and that's about all they use. the will use hurrican type fences in any hight you want and weather treated wood fences. They all have concrete to hold the poles and you will see them use plastic to cover the end of the pole that sticks into the concrete. They tell me that they use the plastic to keep the acid in the concrete from effecting the wood or metal poles. The plastic is thin but just enough to keep the concrete from touching the pole butt. i have been told the huirrican poles will hold up to the acid in the concrete but they still do it to be sure.
Now on the other hand You have 4 fingers and a thumb.
TURTLE
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