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Frequently Asked Questions Index

Question:
Is it possible to leave existing chain link or wooden posts in place and slip a vinyl post over, then fill with cement to avoid having to remove and replace the existing posts?

Reply:
It is possible to reuse existing fence posts and sleeve vinyl posts over them, however it is usually impractical to do so for a vinyl fence installation. Here are a few reasons: *The fence post spacing will most likely be different between the two styles of fence. Most vinyl fences have 6' wide sections (measured center to center of posts) whereas most wood fences are installed with the posts 8' +/- apart. In this case, posts are simply spaced too far apart for the panel to fit. We do carry styles of vinyl and aluminum fence 8' wide, but you would still most likely need to cut the rails to fit and/or use wall mount brackets. The cost and labor to do so sometimes is higher than removing the posts and installing new ones. *Vinyl posts usually will not sleeve over wood 4 x 4s with a tight fit. Most nominal wood posts actually measure 3-1/2'' x 3-1/2''. Our vinyl fences are typically sold with true 4" square or 5" square posts. Although these vinyl posts will fit over the wood posts, they will not fit tight, requiring you to shim the difference for a tight fit. *Vinyl fence horizontal rails typically insert into the hollow vinyl posts. Our vinyl fence posts are usually ordered prerouted to accept horizontal rails. This eliminates the need of often unsightly and weak wall mount brackets used with other brands. Our vinyl fence horizontal rails are cut, notched, and/or drilled so that they will insert into the vertical fence posts and lock in place. If there is a wood fence post inside the hollow vinyl fence post, it complicates the installation. You could 'rip' the wood 4 x 4s smaller so that you can sleeve a vinyl post over and still insert your rails, or you could use all blank (unrouted posts) and use wall mount brackets at every post to rail connection. If you use wall mount brackets, you will need to neatly cut both ends of every horizontal rail (the part that usually inserts into the post) and use wall mount brackets. The use of wall mount brackets will increase the cost of your project and increase labor time. *Concrete footers may be insufficient and fence posts may not be plumb. The setting of fence posts in a proper size hole with sufficient concrete may be the single most important factor in properly building a fence that will last. The holes dug for a fence are usually calculated and installed specifically for the type of fence to be installed. A 3' high chain link fence that allows wind to flow through it may have 6" diameter x 30" deep concrete footers in the ground for each post. A 6' high vinyl privacy fence on the other hand may have 12" diameter x 36" deep concrete footers for support to withstand the extra wind load and weight. Cedar fence posts are usually not cemented in the ground at all. If you wish to tear down a fence and reuse the posts for a new style of fence, you must be certain the posts are anchored in the ground properly for the new fence style. If the wood fence above ground has weathered and shows sign of rot, chances are the posts are in poor shape too and may not be plumb. To summarize, it is generally not a good idea to use existing posts for a new fence of a different type, style, and material. It will often result in higher costs for materials and labor. Furthermore, if the fence is failing structurally or aesthetically above ground, it probably is below ground too. More information on vinyl fence installation.