Are you ready to start your first aluminum fence installation project? Installing your own aluminum fence seems like such a great idea, saving money on the aluminum fence installation, exercise in doing the project, doing it your way and the sense of accomplishment when the job is done–and it is, ALL of these things. But, if not planned properly, it could cause some unnecessary problems. These are our Top 7 Things to AVOID before you get that post-hole digger out and randomly start digging holes.
#1 – Watch Out For Cutting Underground Cables
Most states have a phone number to call prior to digging holes so that you don’t accidentally cut any gas, cable or telephone lines in the process. In North Carolina, where we’re located, it’s ‘No Cuts’ and it’s a free service.
Just dial 811 or 1-800-632-4949 three days prior to the aluminum fence installation and set up a time for them to come out and mark the ground where those cables are hidden. In other states, contact your local electric company and they’ll have a similar service to offer.
#2 – Don’t Dig Post Holes Without Forethought
Try to determine the number of sections in each straight run of fence when considering how to set aluminum fence posts. If it’s not divisible by 72.5”, then you’ll need to cut a section down to size. That’s perfectly acceptable as long as that last section isn’t 1’ to 2’ in length. If it is, you’ll need to cut another section at the other end down by 1’ to 2’, which would make both end sections 3’ to 4’ in length and that looks so much better!
The other option which takes quite a bit more work is to take the overall run dimension in feet and multiply by 12 and then divide by 72.5”. It’ll come up with a whole number and a fraction. Round up to the whole number. Take the overall fence run dimension and divide by the
#3 – Be Careful Digging Post Holes Manually
Manually or with an auger… THAT is the million dollar question! Really, it all comes down to the fence length. If it’s more than 100-150’, then the expense of an auger (rental $100-$150 per day) would be more than offset by the additional time and backaches it would take to manually dig all those holes.
Soil composition also ties in as well. If it’s a harder soil, then an auger would be well worth it. If it’s filled with rocks and roots, then expect to do a lot manually either way.
#4 – Be Careful With Post Location Issues
Two areas of concern here regarding how to set aluminum fence posts. The first concern is the location of the posts next to the house…. called end posts. You want to get them as close as you can to the house without touching the house.
The problem with this is that the house foundation’s footer might be in the way. If so, you don’t want to dig there and break the foundation. Instead, after hitting the foundation, try digging a hole a few inches further away to see if you’re still hitting it. If you’re now more than 4” away (edge of post to the house), you’ll probably need to attach directly to the house using wall mounts instead of setting the post into a shallow hole next to the house… that would inevitably just fall over after a little while.
The second issue is gate post locations. For a 4’ wide gate, the gate posts should be 48” from the inside of the gate post to the inside of the other gate post. The gate is actually smaller to allow for the hinge and latch spacing needed.
#5 – Know Which Type of Concrete You Need
Wet set or dry?? It’s an important question when determining how to set aluminum fence posts. Ideally, a wet set (pre-mixing the concrete before pouring it into the hole) is preferred to enable it to dry all at one time which provides a more solid anchor system for each post.
A dry set (pouring dry concrete in the hole after the post is in the hole and then pouring water over top of it and mixing it in) makes it a little easier in getting the posts plumb and aligned properly, but dries irregularly and isn’t as solid of a connection.
To make the mixing of the concrete a little easier, it helps to have the holes pre-dug and then having 3-4 fence sections assembled together with their respective posts laying on the ground. Then stand them all up at one time and place them in the pre-dug holes. Once in, you can pre-mix 2-3 bags at one time vs. mixing one bag for each post. It just saves in the mixing time to offer a more streamlined solution.
Lastly, have the screw heads facing in towards your property. It makes for a neighbor friendly fence and you won’t hardly even notice them being there. When you start to plan for your aluminum fence installation, please consider these aspects before you get started.
#6 – Be Careful About Doing It Alone
Aluminum fence installation is designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard on the back and knees. And you can always use an extra set of hands when you’re trying to make sure something is nice and level, or when you are trying to lift a panel into place. While the job of aluminum fence installation CAN be done by one person, it is very much an easier proposition (and the time will fly a little faster) if you recruit a little help. Remember: many hands make light work.
#7 – Be Careful About Not Making Your Aluminum Fence Level
This goes back to having an extra set of hands when you’re doing your aluminum fence installation. Setting an aluminum fence post in concrete is important–but if you set it in concrete and it’s not perfectly vertical then you’ve got a mess on your hands. You need to check with every post and every panel to make sure that your aluminum fence installation is level.
FYI, if you do happen to purchase your aluminum fence from Aluminum Fences Direct, we provide a complete set of instructions to help it to go even smoother.
Click here for: Top 5 Things to consider BEFORE purchasing an aluminum fence