Corner and Brace Assemblies
Corner and brace assemblies are fundamental for installing fence posts and fencing that lasts. A sound fence starts with quality materials and careful attention to fencing installation techniques. Most fencing mistakes and failures are caused by improper construction of the end and corner post assemblies. These elements are critical to the overall stability of a fence. When end and corner assemblies are constructed correctly, a few line posts can actually fail without affecting the fence as a whole, and breaks in fencing wire can be easily repaired. The failure of a bracing assembly, on the other hand, may require that the entire fence be rebuilt.
The principle of bracing a corner post is simple. The greatest tension on the post is along the horizontal wire furthest from the ground. Using a cross brace and wire will transfer that tension back to the base of the post at ground level, instead of the top of the post. This helps to resist the full tension of the fence. A wire fence will exert tremendous pressure on the corner posts. With each horizontal wire potentially tensioned to several hundred pounds, the pull on the corners can be immense. Other factors adding stress to the corner posts are changes in temperature, which will cause the wire to expand and contract, and animals leaning against or challenging the wire. For these reasons, the importance of the corner brace in the overall durability of your fencing cannot be overstated.
Select posts of an adequate size and material to withstand stress, and take care to ensure that the corners are well grounded and braced. Corner posts generally need to be 6-8 inches in diameter, 8 feet long and set a minimum of 3-1/2 feet deep, and they need to be of a material that will resist rot or corrosion. Several different brace assembly designs can be used but the recommended design is the H (horizontal)-Brace or Double H-Brace. These assemblies, with a diagonal brace wire, are the most effective, simple and economical method of bracing.
Installing Fence Posts
The foundation of any fence is the brace and line posts. Different post materials can be used when constructing a fence. There are several variables to help determine the appropriate material to use, including animal type, animal pressure, soil and terrain, fence type and overall use of the enclosure. Stability, longevity, and cost are the main reasons wooden posts are preferred in most heavy-use agricultural applications. Wooden posts should be pressure treated to withstand weathering and staples should be galvanized to avoid rusting and eventual failure.
Steel posts, or t-posts, are sometimes used for fencing. They generally cost more than wooden posts and may be bent out of line by livestock pressure. Their main advantages are that they weigh less, can be easily driven and serve as a grounding against lightning when the soil is moist. Posts are sometimes fabricated from concrete, however, these posts are generally weaker than wood or steel posts. The primary advantage is that they are fire and decay resistant.
Brace Posts: Brace posts serve as the anchor for the entire fence construction. Because of their strength and longevity, wood posts are typically used for bracing. T-posts should never be used as brace posts, only as line posts. Determine the proper size post for the amount of fence you are installing. The larger the top diameter, the stronger the post. For example, a 4” post has twice the strength of a 3” post, while a 5” post has four times the strength of a 3” post. Be sure to use wood posts that have been treated with preservatives to help guard against decay. To get the desired post length, add together the depth of setting, which should be no less than 3-1/2 feet in the ground, plus the height of top wire above the ground and 6” extra to get the desired post length. For example, a corner brace post set 3-1/2’ for a 4’ fence would have to be 8’ long.
When installing wood fence posts, be sure to compact the soil around the post to assure that the posts remain secure. Start by kicking a small amount of dirt in the hole and tamp down using a tamping bar. Repeat this process several times, perhaps 10-15 minutes per post, until the hole is filled. For added stability, set posts using cement when possible.
Line Posts: Line posts support the material intermittently along the length of each side of the fence and can be either steel t-posts or wooden posts. It is recommended that when t-posts are used, wooden posts also be incorporated in a 5-1 ratio. When selecting posts, be sure that the posts are at least 3” taller than the fence they are supporting. Line posts need to be set 2’ – 2-1/2’ deep.
If using steel t-posts, the description of the posts will help you determine its strength. A 1.33 post weighs 1.33 pound per foot, while a 1.25 post weighs 1.25 pounds per foot.
Wooden line posts are typically 5”- 6” wide treated posts and should be set 2’ – 2-1/2’ in the ground. When it’s time to secure the fence to the posts, be careful not to drive staples completely into the post. Some space must be retained to allow the fence to move due to animal pressure and temperature changes.
Get More Information about Fence Installation
Setting corners, braces and posts are only the beginning of a fence installation project. To help walk you through the entire process, Red Brand has created a comprehensive library of instructional videos that specifically address different types of fence installations, including field fence, barbed wire, horse fence, and more. To view and download the videos free of charge, go to redbrand.com/installationvideos.
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ABOUT RED BRAND
Keystone Steel & Wire Company, founded in 1889, created Red Brand fence to be the premier agricultural fencing product in the country and it quickly became a household name on American farms. The use of high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship earned Red Brand the reputation of ‘the most respected name in farm fence’. Truly American-made from start to finish, the products delivered by Red Brand boast an earth-friendly component, as 100% of the wire used to produce its line of fencing is made of reclaimed and recycled steel. Appealing to a broad range of consumers and building on the early success of its products, Red Brand has enjoyed a loyal following from generations of farmers, ranchers, and hobbyists. For complete details of Red Brand’s history and full product line, visit redbrand.com.