The Best Way to Install Wood Fence Posts

Wooden fence posts are commonly used when constructing fences with wire, wooden pickets and wooden panels.

Use a level to properly install a wooden fence post.Use a level to properly install a wooden fence post.
Found in sizes including 4-by-4 and 6-by-6 inches square, wooden fence posts are available from hardware, home and garden stores. Proper installation of wood posts is essential to the stability and durability of the fencing. Taking the time to properly set a wooden fence post will provide a sturdy and reliable support for the type of fencing you choose.

Dig a hole with post hole diggers that is three times the width of the wooden fence post. Dig the hole 12-inches across, for example, when working with a 4-by-4 post. Dig the hole at least one-third the length of the total post length.

Pour 4 inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole and tamp it flat with the handle of the shovel. Place the wooden fence post in the hole so that it is centered as much as possible.

Square the post so that one side is parallel to the direction in which the wire, pickets or panels will run. Stand to the front of the post and drive a 2-foot 1-by-2 stake into the ground 1-foot or so out from the post with a hammer. Align the stake with one side of the post. Move to the side of the post and drive a second 1-by-2 stake 1 foot or so out from the post so it is in line with the front or back of the post.

Attach a 3-foot length of 1-by-2 to the two sides of the post that align with the 1-by-2 stakes. Use a drill and driver bit to secure the 1-by-2 to the fence post with one wood screw each.

Place the level on one side of the fence post and secure the 3-foot 1-by-2 to the stake to which it aligns. Use the drill and driver to secure the 3-foot length with a wood screw. Level another side of the wooden fence post and secure the remaining 3-foot 1-by-2 to the second stake with a wood screw.

Pour quick set concrete into the hole up to a point that is 3 to 4 inches below the surface of the ground. Add water to the concrete following the manufacturers directions. A rule of thumb is to add enough water to wet the concrete without making it too thin.

Allow the quick set concrete to dry and thoroughly cure overnight. Remove the 1-by-2 supports and back fill around the post with dirt that was removed when digging the hole. Use a shovel to move the dirt and tamp it down around the post with the shovel or your foot.

Things You Will Need

  • Post hole diggers
  • Gravel
  • Shovel
  • 2-foot long 1-by-2 stake (2)
  • Hammer
  • 3-foot long 1-by-2 (2)
  • Level
  • Drill with driver bit
  • Wood screws
  • Quick set concrete
  • Water

About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.