How to Put up a T-Post Fence
T-Posts are steel posts that in cross section expose a "T" shape in their construction. On the flat side of the post are studs that help you attach fence wire by using clips or insulators to hold electrified wire in place. T-Posts are used in low-tension fence applications. This article will explain how to build one fence section.
The purpose of your fence determines how it is assembled: Will you be fencing to keep animals inside the fenced area, or is the fence to keep animals outside of the fenced area? Will you be using electric or non-electric wire? Will you need a gate, or is this a barrier fence?
Preparation: Take a hammer and set out grade or marker stakes at the corner locations of your fence line. Call your utility company and have them mark any underground cables that might be in the area of your fence. Assemble your tools and materials at the work site.
Corners provide the strength your T-Posts do not. No matter the length of your fence, T-Posts do not make good corner posts. It is better to use wooden corner posts and braces. Even for a low-tension fence, you need sturdy corners to pull your fence wire taut. Dig the appropriate sized hole for each corner post deep enough for the post to rest below the freezing line for your area. Set your wooden corner post into the hole. Plumb the post vertically and pack dirt into the hole around the post about half-full. Tamp the earth tightly with your tamping bar, checking regularly to assure the post is still plumb. Fill in the rest of the hole with dirt and tamp solidly again, checking the plumb of the post. Rake any remaining loose soil around the base of the post to allow for settling. When using square posts such as 4 x 4 treated lumber, orient the face on the second corner post relatively flush with the first. Set your second corner post and tie your marking string from one to the other. Be sure it touches the same side of the fence. Complete your corner assembly by setting another wooden post along the fence line approximately six feet in from each corner. Now you have two wooden posts close together at each end of your fence line. Affix a proper length wooden brace from the top of the second post to the bottom of the corner post on each end. You might want to brace horizontally between the two posts. Hammer long nails or screw sufficiently long screws into the brace and post to hold the brace in place. Gates are hung using the same combination of wooden posts.
Setting Your T-Posts
T-Posts are used to support the fence wire along the distance between the wooden corners. Use a sledgehammer or post driver to drive a T-Post into the ground every 10 to 25 feet along the fence line starting from either end.
T-Posts have a welded or riveted metal plate attached near the bottom end of the post. Drive each post so that this plate is fully below ground by a couple of inches. Check often to make sure your T-Posts are plumb and straight along your fence line.
Orient the metal studs of each T-Post on the side of the fence to which you will affix your wire. The wire should be on the animal side of the fence.
Stretch Your Wire Based on Your Fence Design
Electric fence: Remove your fence line string. Nail an end insulator into each wooden post at every height location you want to stretch wire. The height of each wire is determined by your fence charger's requirements and its ability to deliver electricity compensating for grass/weed growth and the animals being confined. Affix a plastic insulator on each T-Post at every wire height desired. It might be helpful to you to use a marked measuring board to ensure even spacing. Attach your wire on one end insulator and stretch it to the other end post. A helper might pull and keep it taut, or you might temporarily wrap it around the end post. Hook the wire on to each insulator in between the end posts. Make a final wire tie on the last end post insulator and wire your system according to your fence charger's instructions.
Non-electric fence: Remove your fence line string. Wrap your wire directly around the first end post. Twist the end of the wire around the wire itself. Affix it using wire staples. Hammer the staples so that they do not crimp the wire. Stretch your wire between the end posts and affix it to the second end post at the desired height. Hook one end of a wire clip over the wire at each T-Post, bring the clip around the "T" and over the wire again. Grab the clip with your pliers and twist it to hold it in place. The wire will hang there by the clip and the metal stud. Repeat at each height.
Walk your fence one last time to ensure the wire is taut and no posts were disturbed out of plumb.
- Fences for Pasture & Garden; Gail Damerow; 1992
- Metal fence posts and wire will rust. Proper installation helps them last longer.
- Be careful when working with metal and wood fencing material and tools. Always wear gloves and eye protection.
Ronald Erich Telsch holds both Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees. He is a retired juvenile justice administrator with an extensive professional writing history in that field, including national presentations for the American Counseling Association and the Virginia Juvenile Justice Association. Telsch is a volunteer firefighter/EMT and a farmer.