Guide to Setting Posts in Concrete

Setting posts in concrete does not need to be a confounding task, as this helpful guide illustrates.

June 2014

Guide to Concrete (Creative Publishing International, 2008) takes readers through some of the most popular home concrete and masonry projects. Endorsed by Quikrete, this book includes tips and expert advice that can help readers save hundreds or thousands of dollars in their DIY home projects. From "Outdoor Home and Landscaping," this project offers instructions on setting posts in concrete, perfect for securing a new fence or outdoor structure.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Guide to Concrete.

Book Cover

setting concrete posts

• Digging tools
• Drill
• Level
• Bucket
• Gravel
• Post (must be rot-resistant wood, rust-resistant metal, or an appropriate synthetic material)
• 2 x 4 braces
• Wood stakes
• Wood screws

• Fast-setting concrete
• All-purpose gravel
• QUIK-TUBE building form

Whether you’re building a fence or anchoring a play structure, setting the posts in concrete is the best way to make sure they’ll stand straight and true for many years. Fast-setting concrete is ideal for setting posts because there’s no mixing — you simply pour the dry concrete from the bag right into the hole, then add water. The concrete sets up in 20 to 40 minutes, so you can quickly move on to the next stage of the project (a great convenience when setting fence posts) or backfill the hole to finish the job. Under normal curing conditions, you can apply heavy weight to the post (a basketball backboard, for example) after just 4 hours.

The steps shown here can be used for all sorts of outdoor projects, like setting posts for mailboxes, lamps, and signs, plus flagpoles and uprights for sports and play equipment.

QUIK-TIP: Adding a 6 inch gravel base under each post and finishing the concrete base so that it slopes away from the posts are popular methods for protecting posts against rot from moisture contact.

Setting Posts in Concrete

dig the post hole
pour six inches of gravel
1. Dig the post hole, making it three times the width of the post and at a depth equal to 1/3 to 1/2 of the above-ground length of the post, plus 6 inches (right). For loose or sandy soil, using a tube form is recommended (left). 2. Pour 6 inches of gravel or crushed stone into the bottom of the hole. Compact and level the gravel using a post or 2 x 4.
set the post use a level
fill the hole
3. Set the post in the hole. Attach angled 2 x 4 braces to two adjacent sides of the post using one screw for each brace. Drive a stake into the ground near the lower end of each brace.
4. Use a level to position the post plumb (perfectly vertical), checking on two adjacent sides with the level, then fasten the braces to the stakes. 5. Fill the hole with concrete up to 3 to 4 inches below the ground level. Add the recommended amount of water. After the concrete has set, backfill the hole with soil and/or sod.

More Concrete Projects:

• DIY Concrete Landscaping and Garden Borders
• How to Make a Concrete Ramp
• How to Mix Concrete

Reprinted with permission from Guide to Concrete: Masonry and Stucco Projects published by Creative Publishing International, 2008. Buy this book from our store: Guide to Concrete.

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