Fencing spikes or concrete?

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Posted by: from Moosonee
6/24/2014 at 7:22:32 PM

Hi there,

I live in a remote northern Ontario community. I am planning on putting in a new friendly neighbour fence - 240 linear feet. I'll be using 4 foot x 8 foot bamboo panels in a picture frame fence. major malfunction in the junction is whether to go with fence spikes or dig holes and use concrete to fill. Here's why - in our community we have huge issues with frost heave - fencing all over town creep no matter how they seem to be set (my current fence posts have heaved easily 1.5 feet (my best guess is it's 15 years old)). We are in a lowlands area with a clay-rich soil. The frost line is between 5 and 6.5 feet but closer to 6.5. Last year, we had months of overly deep frost - pipes were freezing and breaking all over town. So, that poses a problem. I had figured the spikes might be better under the circumstances as they could be hammered back into place after a tough winter frost right?

We also have a lack of professionals and resources here - everything needs to be shipped so if I'm ordering concrete, you could imagine the freight. However, I want the fence to last for years and not look dilapidated. If it requires extra work for long term reward, I'm up for it. I'm certainly not looking for an easy way out - just the best way.

I've investigated a number of different spikes - some with augers built in (though I think that will just be a problem if they do heave - you can't really just screw them back in once the fence is attached) and concrete forms that resist heaving - that you can't actually order for anywhere a reasonable price.

I'm expecting the fence to cost between $4 - 6k when it's all said and done but honestly, I just want it to last for years.

Any suggestions?

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Date/Time6/24/2014 at 8:46:04 PM

With a frost depth your area has, I would most definitely go with the spikes.

As you say, they can be hammered back down every spring.

Hope that helps.

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Mike from Custom Designs in Bolton
Date/Time6/24/2014 at 9:36:57 PM

I have installed thousands of feet of fence for the last 11years. In my travels, spikes are nothing except problems. I have removed more spikes than I can count a repoured concrete.

My suggestion to you would be to use an auger to drill as deep as possible, 6ft if possible, balloon the bottom of the hole and use a sauna tube. Essentially you would have holes that looked like old school glass thermometers. The sauna tube will help as it will make the concrete as smooth as possible giving the frost nothing to grab onto.

Hope this helps.

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Date/Time6/25/2014 at 1:17:51 AM

Mike has the right idea, but you must, no matter what get below the frost line. If you don't any system will fail. If you have an installer near you, the new screw pile systems would work also. They can screwed down to almost any depth ( I believe 20' ) and are not effected by frost.

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Date/Time6/25/2014 at 6:13:12 PM

Hi Shelly,

James here again.

I have looked into the cost of shipping products to your area today. And they are based on weight as well as size. I am a firm believer in concrete, but the cost is going to be huge.

I have read the two previous posts and agree with them in normal circumstances.

I never build a fence, deck or any other structure unless the sono's go down a little over 4' and a decent PSI concrete is poured.

I won't even pour concrete walkways without a sono every five feet, and then we run 1/2" rebar up and through the whole walkway.

But that is here. You have said the frost depth hit six and a half feet this past year. You would have to drill down seven feet and use fourteen foot 4x4's or 6x6's.

The cost will be huge. If you have the all means do it. But if you do not have that kind of budget I still say go with the spikes.

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Shelley in Moosonee
Date/Time6/25/2014 at 6:34:40 PM

Thanks James - however we don't have an installer within 186 train miles from here - no road. Heck, we don't have a plumber or electrician for that matter. Heck, we only have one store to speak of and everything gets shipped so it's the do-it-yourself kind of life for us - which again, is part of the problem. Can't just get someone to dig holes and ice fishing augers don't go that deep. Hmmm...still pondering this one.

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