Dropping Dry vs. Wet Cement for Post

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Dropping Dry vs. Wet Cement for Post

Once you have made the decision to build a fence, there are many decisions you must make.  After surveying the land and checking for any buried wires or pipelines, it’s time to set the line and get the fence posts set.  While it sounds simple enough, this is actually one of the most critical parts of building a fence.  No matter what the purpose of the fence may be, it will only be fully functional if the fence posts are set correctly.  Here are some tips for building a fence that lasts and getting your fence post right.

Setting the Line

Prior to digging any of the fence postholes, be sure to stake the ground where you want the corner posts to go.  You will then run a string between your two stakes, one for each side of the fence.

his will allow you to measure out exactly where your fence posts will be.  Depending on what type of fence material you are using will determine the distance between the fence posts. You can then mark off the hole locations with some marking paint.  This is why it is important to survey land before building a fence.  If there are any slopes or buried pipes and wires, you may have to adjust your fence accordingly.

Once you have your fence post holes dug, next comes installing the posts.  There are two main methods of setting a fence post.  You can set the posts in either Concrete (wet cement) or in gravel (dry cement).  Let’s take a look at the pros of each of these options.

Setting Fence Posts in Wet Cement

If you are planning to have the fence in loose soil, or have it in place for a long time, then fast-setting wet cement is the way to go.  To use wet cement, after the holes are dug, you want to put in the fence post and pour in the wet cement.  You want to make sure that nothing will be putting any weight on the fence posts for 3 to 4 days.  This will allow the concrete to cure and really set itself up.

Wet cement is:

  • Easy to use
  • Great for loose dirt and soil
  • Will create a sturdy foundation that will last a long time
  • Takes some time to prepare prior to use

Setting Fence Posts with Dry Cement

While using dry cement, or gravel, to set your fence post can be much less messy; it can also potentially be less durable.  Dry cement is best suited for soils that consist of a more clayey nature.  It does not do as well as wet cement in loose soil.  Another benefit of dry cement is that it will allow water to drain around the fence posts.

Installing a fence post in dry cement is pretty simple.  You want to pour about 5 inches of the dry cement into the hole around the fence post and tamp it down.  Then repeat this process until the hole has been filled.

Dry cement:

  • Doesn’t need to set
  • You can leave some space around the post for grass to grow
  • Can immediately have weight put on the fence posts
  • Allows for drainage of water
  • Great for clayey dirt and soil
  • Not good for loose soil

Correctly setting your fence posts the first time is one of the best ways to ensure your fence will be sturdy and stand up to the elements and animals.  By selecting the right kind of cement when installing your posts, you will be sure that you are doing just that.

Getting Your Fence Post Right

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Getting Your Fence Post Right

It’s time to start installing your fence.  You’ve surveyed the land to make sure that there are no wires, pipes or abnormal slopes where your fence will be going, and you’re ready to get started.  Now it’s time for the tough part, getting your fence post right.

Getting your fence post right is one of, if not THE most important part of installing a new fence.  If the fence posts fail, then the rest of the fence is going to fail as well.  This means that it is absolutely crucial to take a little extra time and set your fence posts correctly.

Now it may sound scary, but getting your fence post right is actually quite simple.  However, to ensure that your fence has long-lasting results and is pleasing to the eye, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you avoid some potentially disastrous pitfalls.

Select the Right Type of Wood

While this may not sound like a huge deal, keep in mind that different types of wood offer different types of fence post performance.  For example, a pressure-treated wood fence post will increase both affordability and durability.  Or you can go the redwood, cedar or cypress fence post route.  While these are more expensive choices, they are generally a more naturally resistant and more beautiful option.

A general rule of thumb is to opt for denser, darker heartwood, as opposed to a lighter-colored, younger sapwood.  This is due in part to the heartwood having better defenses naturally when it comes to wood-boring insects.  No matter which type of wood you ultimately decide to go with, be sure that it is all suitable for in the ground applications.

Double Check Your Posthole Size

Depending upon any ordinances or building codes, there may be some type of legal diameter and depth for any fence post holes.  To make sure that posts are lodged below the frost line, the fence post hole needs to be deep enough for the bottom third of your fence post to be below ground.  As for the diameter of the post hole, it should be roughly three times what the width of the fence post is.

You also want to remember that the post hole must be barrel-shaped and flat on the sides.  This will help the hole to maintain a consistent diameter throughout.  The best way to do this is to use a posthole digger.  If you plan on using a regular shovel, your post hole will come out in a cone-shape.

Setting Your Post

The best way to set your fence post in its hole is to add pea gravel or some other type of crushed stone mixture to the bottom of your hole.  Once you have about three inches or so in your hole, use an extra piece of wood or some other device to tamp that layer down.  Once this is done, repeat the same process with about three inches of gravel.  While this may sound excessive, it will help any rainwaters drain off into the soil, protecting your fence.

Next, mix your quick-dry cement and fill in the rest of the hole.  Be sure to pack the cement to a level that is slightly above the surrounding surface level.  This will prevent any fluid collection around the post and keep water away. While many have their opinion about dry vs. wet cement for posts, it is ultimately the builder’s preference, but in most cases, a quick-dry cement will be the best option.

Once the concrete hardens, your fence post is set, and you can continue on with the rest of your fence.  Just be sure to keep these simple tips in mind while you build your fence, and you’ll be finished in no time.

Why is it Important to Survey Land Before Building a Fence?

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Why is it Important to Survey Land Before Building a Fence?

There are many different reasons why you might want to build a fence on your property.  These reasons can range from privacy, to keep local wildlife out, or to enhance the beauty of your yard.  But if you are serious about building a fence on your property, there is one thing that you should do first.

This is to contact a professional land surveyor to come out and survey your land.  While this step can be skipped, it can also lead to an end result that is disastrous.  The fence may not be built on the property line and can encroach onto the neighboring property, the posts can be an incorrect distance from each other, or even worse, the fence will not be up to code and need to be rebuilt.

Whatever the problem may be, the simple fix is to hire a professional land surveyor to come out prior to getting started.  They will be able to help locate any wires or pipes that may be buried, as well as any uneven land that may be on the property.  Once you know where any buried wires and pipes may be, you can build your fence around those to avoid larger problems later on, or if you have uneven land, you can plan your fence building accordingly.

Setting Your Fence Post

When it comes to building a fence, getting your fence post right is the most important part, no matter if you are on flat land or a hill.  If you want your fence to last for years to come, this is a crucial step in the fence building process.

Typically, fence posts will be about 8 feet apart from each other and buried about 1-2 feet into the ground.  This is important because you don’t want to get fence posts that are too short or cross pieces that don’t extend from post to post.

This is why it is very important to have a plan when it comes time to build your fence, and another reason it is important to have your land surveyed prior to getting started.

Selecting Your Fence Sections Size

While the average fence has posts that range about 8 feet apart, it is sometimes better to get one fence post done before moving onto the next one.  This will ensure that your fence posts are always the correct spacing apart.  After your first post is set, be sure to double check your measurements and move onto the next post.   This is the best method of choosing the right spacing for fence sections.

The worst thing that can happen is to have fence posts that aren’t correctly spaced apart.  If this is the case, you will have to re-do the fence posts so that they are the correct spacing apart.

Fences on Uneven Surfaces

When building a fence on a hill or slope, it is best to follow the contours of the yard.  One way of doing this is to build your fence using different pre-cut panels that have been custom cut.  This will help to eliminate any gaps or holes in the fence.

Another method for how to build a fence on a hill is to use a stepped fence.  This is when each section of the fence is slightly higher or lower than the last section.  While this is a popular option, it can leave gaps under the fence, and the fence posts will need to be custom cut to fit the different heights of the fence panels.

While there are many different reasons why you may want to build a fence, the process is always the same.  You want to make sure a land surveyor comes out and lets you know about any wires and pipes that may be buried, as well as any slopes in your land.  This will help to make your fence building process go as smoothly as possible.

Metal Fences Are For Security not Privacy

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Why Metal fences are not the best to use as privacy fences, but serve other security and aesthetic purposes.

A fence is simply defined or identified as a human-constructed barrier or boundary between two or more properties. Fences have been around for ages and have been used for different purposes by different individuals. They are mostly used as boundaries to separate objects, lands, properties, etc.  or different things as the case may be. They could be used to deter potential burglars (no matter how small) or to keep animals away from your home.

Uses of fences


Fences give a true and physical sense of security as they prevent intruders, burglars, trespassers and makes you feel overly safe on your property.


A lot of homeowners love to have friends over and eat out back on a picnic table or porch setting. Having a fence keeps people from just walking up on you while you’re entertaining. It gives you much-needed privacy as well as a sense of security.

Aesthetic Purposes

Fences could be used to beautify your homes or make them more attractive. When designed for these purposes, they generally give homes an elegant and classy look.

Types of fences

The characteristics of fences, and in particular the privacy features of fencing, depend largely on the material from which the fence is constructed.

There are different types of fences to prevent or deter people/animals from trespassing on your property, and these include wooden fences, metal fences, vinyl fences, etc. Each of these types of fences have their various benefits and disadvantages as they serve different purposes, but this article focuses on metal fences and why they are discouraged as a source of fencing for privacy.

Metal Fences

Metal fences are generally made from metals such as wrought iron, steel, aluminum, ornaments, etc. and give a true sense of security compared to different kinds of fencing materials used because of their strength, durability, maintained visibility and are not easily vandalized.

Metal fencing try to create a balance between aesthetics and privacy, but there are a lot of drawbacks which are listed and explained below:


Metal fencing is great when used for security or aesthetic purposes but are not ideal for privacy use due to their high costs. Metals are generally expensive to procure compared to wood fences(commonly used for privacy fences) and are not the best fencing choice when erecting fences on a low budget.

Visibility Problems

Metal fences have huge visibility problems as intruders, trespassers or even your next-door neighbors could easily see through your property depriving you of your much-needed privacy just when you require it. They generally make bad choices when fencing for privacy purposes as most metals have tiny or large holes in their designs which makes it relatively easy for people to see through compared to other forms of fencing.

Attracts vandalism

Inasmuch as metal fences beautify homes and are more secure, they are not ideal for privacy use as they encourage would-be thieves or burglars since they see through your property giving them visibility access to things they could possibly steal or vandalize.

Difficulty in installation

Metal fencing is generally better than wood or other forms of fencing as they are durable and easily maintained but the difficulty in installing them coupled with the fact they are expensive and see-through makes them not so great for privacy uses.

Wood Fencing: The Best for Privacy and Aesthetic Value

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When it’s all about your privacy, what material will you use?

When it comes to choosing which type of fence is best for you, more than just aesthetics should be considered. Fences should look great, of course, but another important function they serve is privacy. Indeed, you might be in the market for a fence for this very reason — to get privacy from your neighbors, to corral pets and kids safely inside your yard, and to deter outside threats to your property, such as burglars and trespassers.


Wood fencing is a fantastic option when you want quality material that offers the most privacy. Unlike chain link fencing, wood fencing provides a natural opaque barrier between your property and the outside world. Last I checked, without a special superpower the human eye can’t see through wood. You can also choose a fencing design that minimizes the spaces between panels, making your fence virtually impenetrable to outsiders. With wood fencing, you can rest easy knowing you can enjoy maximum privacy on your property.


Wood is also the classic, sustainable material that brings out the natural beauty of its surrounding environment. It has an All-American appeal that will never go out of style. If you want the optimum balance of privacy and aesthetics, wood is an excellent choice. You can paint or stain wood to give a custom look, and choose the cut and height of the panels and posts. Wood can be easily shaped to give a special character to your house and increase overall curb appeal.

Grade and Wood Type

Another virtue of wood fencing is the wide array of options available. For example, you will need to select the grade of wood, as well as the wood type.  When choosing a wood grade, you can pick from options like construction, select, premium, or clear grade. These vary in price, and the more expensive choices—clear and premium grade—tend to have a uniform appearance, and are the most durable. Select and construction grade wood are less expensive, and they are of good quality, but may have slight imperfections.

Types of wood include:

Pine, Fir, or Spruce

These are the most common choices for wood fences because of their affordability and durability. Pine and fir wood can also be treated with a water-repellent stain that will increase the life and durability of your fence.

Cedar and Cypress

Cedar and Cypress woods are rot-resistant, which give them a longer lifespan than other choices. They also both contain natural oils and chemicals that deter insects. These options are middle of the road in terms of costs.


Redwood is one of the most expensive fence materials, but it provides exceptional aesthetic value and quality. Redwood is the most durable wood, and is resistant to most insects and rot, increasing its overall lifespan.

When you expect both privacy and beauty from your fence, wood is the clear best option. With the myriad grades and types available, you are sure to find a style that fits your budget and aesthetic goals.

10 Things to Consider Before Getting a Fence Part 2

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10 Things to Consider Before Getting a Fence Part 2

Moving forward with the conclusion of part one, here are five more great things to consider before building a fence.

  1.  What is the Best Material for My Style of Fence?

While the style of fence you do decide to go with will determine the type of material, there are pros and cons for each of those materials.  While most people think wood when they hear the word fence, wood is not always the best option.  Many other factors go into selecting the right type of fencing material.  For example, the climate, the fence style and what it’s ultimate function is going to be.  My Fence Guys will go over every material option with you and decide which is the best route for you to go, together.

  1.  Permits and HOA Rules

Depending upon your city and neighborhood, there may be permits or HOA rules that need to be followed in order to get a new fence.  As a homeowner, you should be fully aware of any type of rules, regulations or permits that may be required before getting a new fence.  Plus, there may be regulations imposed by the city about the distance your fence must be from a sidewalk, property line or any number of other things.  Luckily, however, My Fence Guys will do all the dirty work for you!  We work with all HOAs, handle any applications for permits or anything else that may need to get an approval.  This is just one of the reasons that My Fence Guys are the premier fence company in Virginia.

  1.  Why Can’t I Install the Fence Myself?

While installing a new fence yourself is always an option, is it really the best option?  While it may seem simple, installing a fence is much harder than it sounds.  It is one of those jobs that if you do start it yourself, you will quickly wish that you hadn’t.  Why put yourself through the pain and misery of building a fence when you can hire My Fence Guys, Northern Virginia’s premier fence building specialists.  They will work with you every step of the way, handle any HOA or permit situations, and guarantee that you will love your new fence.

  1.  Do I Need to Change my Landscaping?

With every new fence, there is always an opportunity for you to change your landscaping.  With a new fence and some simple landscaping changes, you can easily transform your yard into something completely different.  At the same time, you can get a fence and have its base block a part of your lawn or some flowers that require sunlight.  If this is the case, it can easily be fixed with some stones or some other feature along the base of the fence.

  1.  Maintaining Your Fence

The maintenance of your fence is 100% dependent upon the type of material it is made out of.  Wood fences, in the long run, will require a little more maintenance than their aluminum and vinyl counterparts.  However, they may also be the perfect accent to your yard.  My Fence Guys will sit down with you and go over every single detail of the fence that will be perfect for your individual situation.  Either way, always be sure to clean your fence and they will not only look great but will last for many years to come!  

If you missed the first five things, you can find those here.

10 Things to Consider Before Getting a Fence Part 1

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There are many different reasons why you might decide to get a fence.  You might want some privacy for your yard, mark the boundary of your property, or even just have a safe, protected area for the kids and pets to play.  What’s more than that, a nice fence will also add a tremendous amount of aesthetic value to your house as well.

Here are the top 10 things to consider before you get a fence:

  1.  What is the Main Reason For the Fence?

While there are millions of houses that have fences, they have those fences for a particular reason.  Knowing what you would like a fence for is also the most important part in helping you decide which type of fence will be right for your needs.

If you have any pets that you would like to have in your backyard, a picket or wrought iron fence may not be the best choice for your needs.  If you want a fence to increase the amount of privacy in your yard, chances are you will want either a shadow box or privacy fence.  But what if you have a lake or view that you don’t want to block?  This means that you probably don’t want any type of solid fence, as it will disrupt that beautiful view.

Before you get any type of fence, these are some of the questions that you will need to ask yourself.  My Fence Guys are able to help you choose the best style of fence and the best fence materials to best for your situation.

  1.  What Style of Fence?

My Fence Guys are Northern Virginia’s premier fence manufacturers and will be able to assist you with all different types of fencing.  We will be able to help you figure out what the best style of fencing is for your individual property.  We work with you step-by-step and are only satisfied once you have a fence that not just increases your home’s functionality, but will also make sure it’s the best looking fence in the neighborhood.

  1.  Will the Weather Affect my Fence?

Virginia’s climate is rough on all different types of fences, especially when it’s wood.  It almost feels that Virginia was designed to beat up fences with its hot and humid weather.  This can lead to warping, rotting and destroys the toughest of paints and seals.  This is exactly why we design the best fences for your property, designed with Virginia’s weather in mind.

  1.  Will my Fence Last Long?

Depending upon the type of fence this has a direct relationship to how long your new fence will last.  Wooden fences usually last for around 10 years or so.  A Vinyl fence can last anywhere from 20-30 years.  As for an aluminum fence, there is no real answer, as it will probably last until the end of time.  So it all really depends upon the type of fence, which My Fence Guys will be able to help you decide what that fence type is.

  1.  Will I Love My New Fence?

You are guaranteed to love your new fence from My Fence Guys!  We work with you 100% of the fence building process to make sure that you get the fence that you deserve.  We will make sure that you only get the best fence style, material, and color that is right for your individual needs.

Still, need to know the rest of things to think about when looking to build a nice looking fence based on your preferences? Will you make the attempt yourself or hire professional fence builders to get the job done right? See the rest of the list here.

Considerations When Setting Deck and Fence Posts

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Live load on deck post and footing.  Wind load on fence post.
Loads on Deck and Fence Posts

My Fence Guys and NOVA Build Pros are sister fence and deck companies in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.  We are your premier contractors for installing your new fence and deck.  However, we are always happy to lend a hand if you prefer to do it yourself.

One common question we get again and again is, “how do we set the posts?”  We’ve heard time and time again about deck failures resulting from sinking posts.  Before the International Building Code was as well known many deck posts were installed like fence posts.  The hole was dug, and post and concrete were installed at the same time.   This may prevent a post from toppling.  However, as you can see from the diagram, the main forces to account for in deck footers is that of the live and dead load.  For the most part, this force is normal (perpendicular) to level ground.  The force must support 40 pounds per square inches.  In general, that means if you divide the square footage of your deck by the number of supporting posts (not accounting for ledger boards) and multiply that number by 40, the result is the weight that the post must support.  Similarly, the footer must also support that weight.  The footer must have a larger bearing area than the bearing area between the post and the footer (i.e. 3.5″ x 3.5″) because the soil load bearing capacity is obviously less than the concrete load bearing capacity.  Concrete bearing capacity is between 3000 and 5000 pounds per square “inch” in general.  The soil bearing capacity is (again, in general) 1500, 2000, or 3000 pounds per square foot.  So… that entire force transmitted through the post (1,000’s of pounds) must be spread across undisturbed earth.  Additionally, the footer bottom should be below the frost level depth.  In our area, footers are typically (check w/ your locality) a minimum of 24″ deep, 18″ square and 8″ thick.  The post can be set in 8″ of concrete on top of that footer, or can be set on post anchors or by other means.  Don’t forget to get your permit(s) and schedule inspections “before” you place the concrete.

For fences, the force that must be resisted is usually due to wind loads (or, kids climbing the fence to retrieve their lacrosse balls).  There isn’t the same risk of the fence settling through the footer.  There is a risk, however, of the fence toppling over due to high winds (or kids, mowers, etc).  This isn’t so much of a problem for decks due to fact that the lateral bracing tends to keep the posts in place vertically.  Fences are essentially cantilever boards (i.e. supported only on one end) sticking out of the ground.  The earth is the only thing preventing them from toppling over in high winds.  So, the larger the cross section of the post (in general) the more the post will be able to resist that moment.  Thus, fence posts should be placed approximately 1/2 to 1/3 in the ground and should be surrounded by concrete as they are set.  Dry packing concrete is a manufacturer-recommended method that helps to speed along the installation.  In a matter of days, the concrete will solidify making removal of the post in tact very difficult.  We always recommend setting gate posts in wet concrete (we use fast setting concrete) so the footer will have a high early strength and be able to withstand the changing forces caused by a swinging gate (or a swinging gate banging against it).

If you need any more pointers or would like us to do it for you, give us a call!

Planning your New Fence

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Paddock or Horse Fence
New Painted Paddock Fence with wire Mesh
Horse Fence
Paddock Fence with Wire Mesh


There’s much more to planning and installing a new fence than simply “planting” a couple posts from your local hardware store and nailing boards to them.  To avoid making a costly (or life-threatening) mistake, you should always take the following steps:

  1. Check with your local city planning office to find out what type of fence you are allowed to install.  Most localities publish their fence restrictions online. In general, restrictions are for public safety and usually deal with height and distance from public right of ways.  For example, as shown in the link above, you wouldn’t want your visibility restricted by a fence when approaching an intersection, so some localities don’t allow you to build right up to the corner of your lot even though it is your property.  Violators of these restrictions will be made to move or lower their fence to comply or be faced with a recurring monetary penalty until such a time when the fence is brought into compliance.
  2. Call Miss Utility before you dig.  It’s not just a catchy jingle, it could save your life!  Power and gas lines running to your house are supposed to be 30″ – 36″ deep, which shouldn’t interfere with most fences, but this is not something to bet your life on.  For a number of reasons (e.g. final grading, landscaping, error during installation) these utility lines could be shallower.  You can call 811 to request utility marking on your property.  You can also go online to make a request.  Miss utility will locate and mark all public utilities on your property, usually within 48 hours.  They mark each utility (gas, water, electric, cable) with different color paint.  If you must dig near a marked utility, you should take extra caution and never use a piercing tool like a breaker bar or post hole diggers.  Keep in mind, these markings are only valid for a certain amount of time, usually about 25 days.  If the marks fade, or you suspect your utilities were not marked correctly or at all, you can often request a 3-hour locate from Miss Utility.
  3. Some localities require your new fence to be marked on your plat. Your plat, if you have one, can often be found with all the other real estate documents that you received when you purchased your home.  If you do not have a plat, or can’t find it, a property survey is recommended, especially if you want to build along your property line.  You can either pay the surveyor to construct a new plat from scratch, or, to save money, you can simply ask them to locate your property lines in the vicinity of where your fence will be installed.  A plat (or survey) is need during installation so that your fence ends up in the right place.  The last thing you (or your neighbor) wants is to have to move your fence because it was on your neighbor’s side of the property line.

Find answers to other common questions about fences here.

My Fence Guys is a licensed contractor in the state of Virginia.

How is a Privacy Fence Built?

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Privacy Fence with Lattice
Cedar Fence with Diagonal Lattice on Left. Pressure Treated Pine Fence with Square Lattice on Right.
How to build Privacy Fence with Lattice
Privacy Fence with Lattice

Need a privacy fence with lattice?  Want to know how to build that fence, or any fence?  Take the guesswork out of it!  We have shop drawings for all of our custom fences so you know what you’re getting and how it’s being built.  We find this to be an effective communication tool that reduces confusion and facilitates fence selection.  From the size and length of nail, to the placement of concrete around the post, to the type of cap, width and length of each board and description of options – it’s in there!