How to prep wooden poles for different uses

June 10, 2020

Treated poles have a number of different uses in our modern world. They can be used to construct fencing, to service a variety of utilities such as telephone lines, act as street light poles or to hold signage, support decking or maintain landscaping features. Whether serving an agricultural purpose, used in big construction projects or providing a support for home DIY designs, wooden treated poles serve a multitude of purposes. Due to their versatility, wooden poles can also be easily used in a variety of environments, be that water, concrete or sand.


Treated poles have a number of different uses
Treated poles have a number of different uses in our modern world


Have a look at what you need to bear in mind when using wooden poles for construction on these different surfaces:

In Concrete

When planting treated poles into concrete it is important to ensure that the concrete only surrounds the sides of the poles. If possible, there shouldn’t be a concrete layer directly under the pole as well or else any water that collects will not drain away properly. The pole itself should rather be rested on dry stones which will allow water to drain while concrete can then be poured around the sides of your wooden pole for stability. The best concrete foundation is one that is built using a 2:3:1 ratio of stone, concrete sand and cement. The concrete mixture should be compacted as it is poured in to the hole surrounding the pole and then the concrete should be ‘watered’ while setting to create a firm structure.

Directly in the Ground

You may be surprised to discover that the majority of the road sign poles you see every day are not actually encased in concrete when planted into the ground. If you are dealing with ground that is relatively hard, and not to sandy, you may just be able to use the compacted soil to hold your wooden poles in place. If you choose not to secure your wooden poles with concrete be sure to also check that the structure you are trying to build does not get the full brunt of the wind and is somewhat protected and that the area it is standing in is not affected by rain runoff or other factors that could compromise the structure, such as invasive tree roots. If you do not plan to use concrete to secure your pole be sure you have enough pole under the ground to ensure stability. This could be as much as one third of the length of the pole. Wooden poles that are not supported by concrete at the base could also be given extra support through an A-frame structure or stay wires.

In Water

While there are many ways to secure wooden poles in water for docks or jetties, many of these methods are very expensive and make use of specialised machinery including hydraulic pumps. Jetting in posts can also be destructive to the environment underneath the water. If you are looking for a DIY method for setting wooden poles in water, then the simplest solution is to use a large bucket filled with concrete in which the wooden pole can sit. The concrete would be used to set the pole in the bucket before transferring the entire structure to the water. This method is only suitable for places where the water does not get too much current and does not ice over with changing seasons. You may also need to construct a chain system to secure the buckets to ensure that they do not roll or move if dealing with a steep bank or tidal movements.


Ways to secure wooden poles in water
Ways to secure wooden poles in water


No matter your wooden pole usage, its recommended to always invest in treated timber that has already been cut to your desired size. You will want to avoid cutting timber and treating it yourself as exposed timber could be more susceptible to rot and water damage.