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Stirrups for fence posts?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member YoungBolt's Avatar
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    Default Stirrups for fence posts?

    Hi crew,

    Anyone ever used or know if it's ok to use stirrups for the base of a fence post?

    The reason I ask is that some recent winds here in isolated victoria has made my fence akin to a flag and it's all due to the bottom of the fence posts partly rotting out and due to bad footings (1' down with dry cement as a footing...great)

    I've got a courtyard for a yard and so if the flailing fence when it collapses will do damage to my deck furniture.

    When I bought the house the entire fence had garden beds packed up against it. I removed these because it's a bad idea and seen that the beds had weakened most of the bottoms of the fence posts.
    1 of the posts was completely rotten through so I removed the post and had that section of fence sit on its own for about 2 years until I replaced that fence post about a year ago. The rest of the fence posts had accelerated rot/wear from the garden bed but appeared to be most intact.

    I'm apart of a block of units. My two neighbours either side of me all back onto the same property that had the fence built at the same time. I discovered over the weekend that original fence installers didn't go down more than 1' on a 2.8m high fence and decided to use dry cement as a footing (it breaks up when you tap it with a hammer) and this explains why the fence that is on my neighbours sides have failed - one of my neighbours is somehow not phased with the fence being a backyard art feature leaning over at 45 deg and looking like a crinkled piece of paper and the other doesn't have the money to replace the very loose post after they've also had the other sections of their fence replaced that backs onto anouther property.

    Somehow my fence was intact and was a bit shaky but not critical. However in the last few days it's been my turn to experience the joys of this fence shamozzle and I now have the fencing leaning tower of pisa in my backyard.
    Tonight I smashed some star pickets down to brace it until I work out what I will do with it. The pickets are down 3' and the fence still shakes about.

    I'm not planning to stay here for many more years and my neighbour who the fences backs on too doesn't seem to concerned with changing anything or paying to fix the fence. He didn't want to replace the sagged section nor pay half of the rotten fence post. He wasn't concerned at all by the neighbours section of fence that basically completely collapsed on one side and is about too on the other. He leans a stack of his firewood and random junk against the fence which isn't helping the situation.
    The fence rails, pailings and tops of posts are in ok nick and without the base of the fence post failing could easily last a good 5-8 years.

    I was thinking that I could cut off the rotten bottoms of the fence and use a stirrup in concrete to hold up the fence instead? and when it comes to replace the fence then it'd be fairly easy to replace the posts by bolting up the fence post to the stirrup?

    I'm not so keen on setting a new post for an older fence. The gap between my deck and a major section of the fence is only 400mm. Digging out existing fence footings, then proping up the fence and concreting in new fence posts would be a very labour intensive job with so little clearance. Keeping the rails & palings means I have to replace one post at at time and this would make it difficult to make the fence plumb. I'm also up for a good $300-400 worth of materials and will still have old rails and palings.

    Is there any other option that more star picket bracing, struggling to replace each fence post or am I going to have the fun job of forking out big cash to replace a fence and bicker/argue/negotiate with the neighbour for their share.

    Any ideas? Let me know if you'd like some pics.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
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    I can't see how a styrup will help because the joint between the styrup and the post will not be any better than your rotting post for rigidity. There was an Australian company that made a steel post repair which fitted around the post, was driven into the ground and then coach bolts used to attach the post. I used them to successfully repair a fence like yours some decades ago. I'll try to remember the manufacturer's name.

    Edit: not the ones I used, but Google Strongtie E-Z Mender fence post repair.
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  3. #3
    Deactivated User Marc's Avatar
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    Can you confirm the real hight and the make of the fence. Surely it is not 2.8m high.
    Rotting post ... I assume the fence is hardwood with palings and railings? What kind of soil do you have?

    Anyway, to your question ... the only way to fix what you have without replacing the fence, is to add new post. You can sister the old post, but that means you need to dig out the old concrete. A bit of a bum job. Alternatively you can place the new post just enough away from the footings so that you get just dirt. Dig a proper footing deep enough for the hight and the type of soil, and bolt to the top railing. Forget stirrups. Fence post need to resist lateral forces not vertical ones, so the post anchoring is out.

  4. #4
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    A quick fix is driving a long star picket into the ground next to the broken post and screwing it to the wood, but that isn't pretty and they are about $12- each
    "A big boy did it and ran away"

    Legal disclaimer denying responsibility to be inserted here.

  5. #5
    3K Club Member johnc's Avatar
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    Like Marc, surely you don't have a 2.8 metre fence, most max out at 1.8 or less. Either replace posts or sister a new post, that or something like John2b's suggestion. Stirrups will not work.

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    Easily believe a 2800 fence, our new one is 2000 tall, already falling over due to untreated posts and poor hole depth but Housing VIC wouldn't agree to me doing it myself and the next door property is Public Housing, only 6 years old too.
    "A big boy did it and ran away"

    Legal disclaimer denying responsibility to be inserted here.

  7. #7
    Deactivated User Marc's Avatar
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    Easy fixed Moon. All you need to do is quote them twice the cost for a contractor to do it. They will be all over you like fly to honey. You get the contractor to replace the whole fence, on your side and the other two sides for good measure, pocket the difference and happy days. If it was NSW housing commision I would suggest triple the price a contractor charges.

  8. #8
    Senior Member YoungBolt's Avatar
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    Sorry Gents, I meant to write that the fence posts are 1.8m, and the fence is 2m. Serves me right for trying to cure my insomnia with writing forum posts at 2am...

    Thank you for all the 'posts' and help folks!

  9. #9
    Senior Member YoungBolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John2b View Post
    I can't see how a styrup will help because the joint between the styrup and the post will not be any better than your rotting post for rigidity. There was an Australian company that made a steel post repair which fitted around the post, was driven into the ground and then coach bolts used to attach the post. I used them to successfully repair a fence like yours some decades ago. I'll try to remember the manufacturer's name.

    Edit: not the ones I used, but Google Strongtie E-Z Mender fence post repair.
    Hi john,

    I thought of using the stirrup because only the bottom area of the fence that used to sit in dirt & dry cement was rotten but it wasn't rotten all the way through. The part of the post above the ground is fine with only the rot you get from a years of exposure.

    I'll need to dig a bit more but most of the posts have at least 60-70% of the original tmber around the footings left. It seems that the footings are the biggest issue I think the soft soil, the footing being dry cement versus concerete and pressure of both the old garden bed and the shyte the neighbour puts against it has severley weakened the footings.


    Thank you very much John for that recommendation. I didn't know that product exists. How was the fence after you put them in? Still shakey or pretty stiff?

    How do you think it would fair if I put concrete around it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Can you confirm the real hight and the make of the fence. Surely it is not 2.8m high.
    Rotting post ... I assume the fence is hardwood with palings and railings? What kind of soil do you have?

    Anyway, to your question ... the only way to fix what you have without replacing the fence, is to add new post. You can sister the old post, but that means you need to dig out the old concrete. A bit of a bum job. Alternatively you can place the new post just enough away from the footings so that you get just dirt. Dig a proper footing deep enough for the hight and the type of soil, and bolt to the top railing. Forget stirrups. Fence post need to resist lateral forces not vertical ones, so the post anchoring is out.
    Hi marc,

    I believe the fence is TP. Its probably around 10-15 years old. My side of the fence was painted, neighbours sides were not. They have that green tinge of TP. The fence post I replaced was cyprus and it was a orangey colour and nothing like the rest of the fence.

    Soil does vary but is most top soil until you get down about a foot where it goes to light coloured heavy packed dirt. Not much clay in my soil.

    Part of the fence footings are exposed now. I suspect the fencers installed the new fence with the garden bed in place. I dont know the back story of the courtyard but the bed was packed with about 2 trailer loads of concrete blocks.

    Thank you, I'll write off stirrups as a solution.

    I considered sistering and it certainly would be easier but I couldn't get away with that for the rail joins.
    When it comes to removing/taking out the existing footings, the installers idiotic choice to use dry cement instead of actual concrete makes it easy to break - I can break up the footings with a fencing bar. Awesome....

    My general rule for post depth is 1/3rd of the height that's above ground.


    Quote Originally Posted by Moondog55 View Post
    A quick fix is driving a long star picket into the ground next to the broken post and screwing it to the wood, but that isn't pretty and they are about $12- each
    Hi Moonie, thanks for the suggestions.
    As in interim fix, I installed 1.8m star pickets and smashed them down about 2-3 feet. Without bunnos having walk in trade I had to rely on my old man bringing me his spare ones at 9pm last night. Made for some rather happy neighbours hearing that noise of a star picket being hit with a sledgey at 930pm!! Thankfully no one did anything other than call me an expletive or two.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnc View Post
    Like Marc, surely you don't have a 2.8 metre fence, most max out at 1.8 or less. Either replace posts or sister a new post, that or something like John2b's suggestion. Stirrups will not work.
    Hi John,

    I might try those mender bars and try to put some actual concrete around the base of the posts. Probably will use quickset as it's easier to break up come the day when it needs to be fully replaced.

    Trying to keep costs and labour down as old mate next door is unlikely to want to pay for any of the fence damage, being that he's done nothing to rectify the other sections of the fence that are completely shot.

    I can sister the intermediate posts but would I need to replace the ones where the joins for the rails are?

    Quote Originally Posted by Moondog55 View Post
    Easily believe a 2800 fence, our new one is 2000 tall, already falling over due to untreated posts and poor hole depth but Housing VIC wouldn't agree to me doing it myself and the next door property is Public Housing, only 6 years old too.
    How frustrating!

    A good mate of mine bought his house brand new "off-the-plan" - the fence is the worst I've ever seen. Looks like they take some serious shortcuts on new properties. The fence on his has posts with 3m spacings! However the spacings are all over the shop, some 2.4m, others 2.8m and a handful at 3. None of the posts are plumb, and they're already buckling under the weight of the fence. Some of the rails didn't stretch from post to post and the fencer used a block of wood tacked to the post to support it or a block midway on the rail. I'm honestly sad for all the timber that was wasted and the poor fella and his new wife and 2 kids spent all their savings to build the house so has little money in the kitty to fix it. Who can walk away from such a shoddy job and know that this is their handiwork?!

  10. #10
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    How long is the fence? Tp fences aren't expensive.

  11. #11
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    ....done the same after winds at my last house. The star picket lasted for years....I may have put 2 in - 1 each side due to the crappy soil. Grew a creeper on that section which completely hid it from view.
    Sold the house and suspect its still there today.

    Both the wood and construction methods are crap these days. Still cant understand if home owners had a choice why at least they dont use steel posts....bolt the timber rails on and nail/screw the fence of your choice - colorbond or the crappy treated pine boards

  12. #12
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    After a shed build I had a few lengths of 100x100x2mm Duragal SHS to spare, and a badly failing boundary fence. Smashed them in a few feet right next to the falling posts (the soil is very soft and moist in that area, probably also causing the rotting timber posts) strapped the posts together with hoop iron and it's all been pretty rock solid since, although not pretty as far as fences go...

  13. #13
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    If you are going to use stirrups, even high wind stirrups, they will work as post extensions as long as they are braced. They won't hold up long term on their own as a fence post for an exposed solid fence without some other assistance

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