How to protect fence posts

Updated November 21, 2016

A fence post is used to anchor a fence line to the ground. Fence posts can be made of wood, vinyl or metal and vary in shape and size. Fences are typically an investment of time and resources, so you should take steps to help ensure that posts last as long as possible. Proper installation is key in preserving the longevity of your fence posts.

Correctly install fence posts. Correct installation may protect a post from wind, rot or livestock damage. If you plan to install wooden posts, soak the bottom of the posts with creosote or other rot-resistant coatings before installation. Dig the post hole based on the length of the post to be left exposed above ground. The hole should accommodate about half of the exposed post. If, for example, the post needs to extend 6 feet above ground, then the post should be buried 3 feet below the ground.

Dig fence post holes at least 1 foot across to allow for concrete or gravel. Concrete anchors well at corners but gravel packed with a tamp drains much better. Gravel, instead of soil, packed around a post will resist rot and typically last longer.

Install post caps on fencing. Caps for wooden fence posts are made of copper, tin and other metals and are designed to protect the top of the posts from water. Caps for vinyl and metal fence posts are made from the same material and are designed to prevent water from accumulating in the posts, which could cause damage by freezing.

Form a 6 inch to 8 inch band of sheet metal around the base of wood and vinyl posts. String trimmers and mowers are capable of causing damage to the base of fence posts. Cut lengths of metal to fit the post and anchor in place with nails for wood posts and screws for vinyl posts.


Perform routine maintenance on fence posts to extend their use.


Use caution when you apply creosote or other coatings. Wear safety glasses and gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • Gravel
  • Concrete
  • Tamp
  • Post cap
  • Creosote
  • Sheet metal and shears
  • Hammer and nails
  • Screwdriver and screws
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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.