Are Fence Posts Structural?

Have you ever wondered how fence posts keep upright while bearing the weight of multiple pickets and rails? Let's make a point of understanding if fence posts are structural. We've researched and found the answers from reliable sources.

The answer is a resounding yes. Fence posts are the backbone or the foundation of the fence you've erected. When poorly put up, they can collapse due to any pressure exerted. What's more, uneven or rough-looking fence posts make your entire property look unappealing.

Why are fence posts so important? Read on as we explain their role, types, and how they affect the entire fence.

a long new fence on new property development - Are Fence Posts Structural

What Are Fence Posts?

A fence post is a vertical support that bears the structural weight of the rest of the fence's components. Fence posts are the main structural component of any fence. They can be reinforced using concrete. The basis or backbone of a good fence is a solid fence post.

A fence post can be made from a variety of materials and also have elaborate decorations or features. But before you add any additional weight to your fence posts, they should be set correctly in the ground to avoid rot or rust.

How To Properly Set A Fence Post?

Setting fence posts is a relatively easy task, but it needs to be done correctly. You set the fence posts before attaching the rest of the fence. These are the steps to follow:

  • Start by marking the placement of the fence posts using mason lines and wooden stakes.
  • Dig the hole for the fence post. To make the job faster, use a power drill. Ideally, set the fence post six inches below the frost line. Do not forget to make the width at least four inches wider than your fence post to allow room for the concrete base.

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  • Remove all stones and rocks using clamshell hole diggers. Ensure that nothing obstructs the placement of the fence post.

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  • To form a base, pour four inches of gravel and tamp it.
  • Erect a support base for the post. Countercheck if the fence post is straight using a level.
  • With the fence post on top of the gravel, pour in the concrete. Tamp the concrete and allow it to dry. Depending on water drainage or temperature fluctuations, you might have to pour the concrete above ground level.
  • Complete the job by backfilling the remaining part of the hole with soil.

Your fence is as strong as the fence posts you have erected.

Have a look at this short tutorial on how to erect fences and set fence posts correctly.

Types Of Fence Posts

Fence posts are structural. And depending on the location, they play different roles. Let's dissect the types of fence posts and find out where they are located along the fence.

a long new fence on new property development

End Posts

These are the posts at the edge of the fence and need to have holes only on one side.

Corner Posts

Other vital posts on fences are corner posts to join sections. They can be placed at 45 or 90 degrees, and the post holes need to be wider than the others.

Line Posts

Line posts connect fence sections and sometimes all through holes in them. The number of line posts will depend on the length and sections of your fence.

Blank Posts

These are posts you can customize for different uses. They do not have holes, but you could convert them to:

  • Latch posts
  • Gate posts
  • Hinge posts

They are found in vinyl and chainlinks fences. Their placement and functionality will slightly differ.

The Best Wood For Fence Posts

Wooden fences are still in style. However, they are facing strict competition from vinyl fences. Compare and contrast different types of wood before you purchase wood for your fence and posts.

Look at your budget, weather conditions, and the vulnerability of the wood species you pick. Here are the best wood species for fencing:


Redwood is widely used for outdoor structures and fencing. It's costly but durable and naturally resistant to pests. Its beauty and high quality make it a number choice for most property owners.

redwood fence in small backyard


A highly rot-resistant fencing material. Cypress occurs naturally and helps repel bugs. It is an excellent option but expensive.

Pressure Treated Wood

Use other types of treated wood which are a cheaper option for decorative fences. The treated wood comes in several shades, and some even mimic redwood and cypress. The most popular pressure-treated wood used is pine and red cedar.


Cedar has natural oils that spook bugs. It's rot-resistant too. If you are in search of affordable wood for fencing, pick cedar.

Cedar Wood Fence Panel

Douglas Fir

This is a light brown wood with touches of red or yellow. The knots and even grain make it look pretty. Stain it to maintain the color throughout its lifespan.

Each of the types of wood mentioned has additional benefits and fits different localities.

The Most Durable Fence Posts

Although most homeowners love the look of wooden fences, manufacturers have produced metal and concrete fences that last even longer. You'll also find metal fences that mimic the look of wood and give consumers an option of less maintenance and longevity.

What Are Incised Fence Posts?

Fixing Fence

The incisions that run deep in timber meant for fencing allow pressure treatment preservatives to penetrate thoroughly. This process has always been used in agricultural fencing, but it has found its way into domestic garden fences.

However, these incisions are not found in all fencing posts. In the US, treatment of timber using incisions is required. There are no specifications on how many incisions or how deep.

Can You Reinforce Fence Posts?

Concrete fence posts are sometimes reinforced in the center with iron bars. But this isn't the case for wooden fence posts. Wooden fence posts rot and lean over time.

To reinforce rotting fence posts, you could use E-Z mender splints. The splints work on fence posts that aren't set in concrete. They can be inserted into the ground along the fence and screwed on the sides.

Click here to see E-Z mender splints on Amazon

Mistakes To Avoid When Erecting A Fence

If you want a long-lasting fence, you'll need a proper foundation. Experienced and first-time builders should always be cautious.

Avoid the following mistakes at all costs:

  • Forgetting to ask the local authorities to mark the utility lines on your property. Neglecting this step could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs of damaged power or waterlines. You could endanger your life if you strike a powerline while digging.
  • Shallow fence posts. If your fence posts are not below the frost line, they will be pushed out and cause your fence to lean.
  • Opting for shortcuts. You might be tempted to use prebuilt fence panels which are not custom-made for your yard. They may look irregular and misplaced because they don't follow the train of your yard.
  • Using inappropriate materials for the fence posts with gates.
  • Not making the right transitions on the fence. Have your fence built on sight. It should follow the rises and falls in your yard.

For more visuals, have a look at the following video.

How To Decorate Fence Posts

New fence erected around a property

Fence posts don't have to be dull. You can use them to decorate your yard. Some of these decorations are functional and nicely tie the property together.

You could:

  • Add a decorative fence topper.
  • Paint the fence posts a different color for distinction.
  • Add plant hangers on the fence posts at intervals.

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  • Put solar cap lights as additional lighting or string lights along the fence.

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To Wrap It Up

Fence posts are the backbone of any fence and they must be carefully erected and placed to sufficiently carry the weight of the fence. Don't skim on any steps to reinforce fence posts during construction.

Properly maintain your fence from the elements and check the local building codes and regulations.

Cruise through the following posts for more on:

How To Remove A Fence Post Without A Jack

How To Build A Horizontal Fence On A Slope