Sinking gate posts into the groundYou have three choices of posts for sinking into the ground, either tanalised softwood posts (available from most builders merchants), sawn green oak posts (more of a specialised product and available from saw mills and timber merchants etc.) and steel posts. All three types of gate posts come in many thicknesses and widths, the dimensions of the posts vary depending on the width of gates required, the wider the gates, the bigger the posts required to hold them up and also the taller the gates again the bigger the posts need to be- there is no ‘one size’ fits all! For fitting information on the posts please scroll down the page. Fitting gate posts to a wall? Go here for tips and advice How to fit gate posts to a wall
Tanalised Softwood gate postsTanalised softwood gate posts are by far the cheapest option in comparison with Sawn green Oak posts, as the name implies they are softwood and by being tanalised they are pressure treated to protect against rot. If you make any cuts, notches or drill into these posts then further treatment is necessary on the timber you have exposed to maintain the integrity of the tanalised treatment. You have probably seen these posts yourself as they can be found in fencing and normally have a green-ish or brown-ish tinge and are supplied rough sawn. If you are choosing Softwood gates then by all means go for tanalised softwood posts if the sawn green oak posts are out of your budget. You can paint or stain these once in place but you may not get an exact match when using stain to the colour of your gates due to the colour tinge of the posts. We do not supply tanalised softwood posts, as mentioned you can normally pick these up yourselves from most builders merchants.
Sawn green Oak gate postsDespite their name, the sawn green oak gate posts are not green in colour – the ‘green’ part of there name refers to the fact that they are air-dried (rather than Kiln dried – you do not sink kiln dried timber into the ground ever!) and are suitable for outdoor use.
More expensive than the tanalised softwood gate posts but if your budget can afford these then they are well worth it and if you are fitting hardwood gates then we would really recommend these as if you use the Softwood posts you may well find yourself needing to replace rotten softwood posts whilst you Hardwood gates are in excellent condition. Its always worth getting a coat of paint or stain (again whatever you are using on the gates) on the posts as it does no harm, the only thing to remember with the sawn green oak posts is that they will in time split – this is perfectly normal with green oak and is in no detriment to the strength of the posts. We do supply sawn green oak posts – please contact us for details.
Steel postsIf you would rather use something other than timber posts, then the best option is steel posts. Again as with timber posts there is no real one size fits all for the thickness and width of posts required – it’s all dependent on the width and height of the gates being attached to the posts.
Sinking the posts into the ground
Before fitting the posts into the ground you should ensure the following: Posts are weather cut on the top (this enables water to run off – see picture above left), Posts are the correct length (Depth of hole plus gate height plus clearances under the gate), (i.e. 6ft high gate, with 2 inches clearances and a hole 3ft deep would require a post length of 9ft 2) Both the tanalised softwood posts and sawn green oak gate posts are sunk into the ground the same way.
You need to first dig a hole a good 2ft 6 (760mm) to 3ft (915mm) deep (this gets the base of the post below the level that frost penetrates, once below this level the ground is less likely to move as much! How wide the hole needs to be is again dependent on the size of the post, for a 6″ post (150mm) I would make the hole 18″ square, giving 6″ gap all round the post. It’s also a good idea to slope the concrete at ground level away from the gate post to act as a water run off.1- Once your hole is dug, it’s best to place a bit of hardcore/ballast into the bottom of the hole – this ensures any water drains away and helps to stop your posts from rotting. When you’ve placed this in the hole give it a tamp down to compress it – you can use the end of a lump hammer for this. 2 – Place post in hole and check for plumb (level) on one of the faces of the post and one of the edges (always use the same edge and face on the post so you don’t get differing levels!).
Tools/Material required –Spade/Post hole digger Tape measure, Spirit level, Lump hammer, Concrete, Hardcore, Source of clean water,
Sinking two gate posts into the ground?If sinking two posts into the ground (one post each side of the opening) then fit your first post as mentioned above. Once the first post is in place cut a length of timber (something like 2″ x 1″ ) to the overall width of the gate (or gates) plus the clearances required between the gates and gate posts. This staff then gives you the distance needed between posts and the positions of the gate posts can be quickly checked as you concrete the second post within the hole. Again once both gate posts are plumb, prop/brace them to keep them in position until the concrete is dry.
How long till the concrete is dry?It will normally be dry within 24 hours but I would tend to give it 48 hours before hanging the gates off the posts. A lot will depend on how warm the weather is and the humidity – if in doubt give it a bit longer!
More gate fitting tips – Wooden gate fitting guide
Fixing a gate post to a wall – How to fit a gate post to a wall