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Strainer Posts Comparison: Steel vs. Timber Strainer Posts 

Steel strainer posts vs timber strainer posts

When it comes to fencing, the strainer posts play a critical role in ensuring the overall strength, stability, and longevity of the fence. Strainer posts are used at the start and end of a fencing line, as well as at corners or whenever the fence changes direction. They are responsible for maintaining tension and supporting the wires, regardless of the type of fence—whether it’s a flexible rail, mesh, or wire. 


Timber strainer posts and steel strainer posts are two of the most popular solutions for building the end assembly. But how to know which one is right for your fences and your property? 


At Stock & Noble, we provide the finest fencing solutions to high-end properties across Australia and New Zealand. We help our client build a beautiful fencing line from start to finish and strainer posts are an integral part of every fencing project. Though our product folio features steel end assembly, we know, it might not be the right solution for every property. Drawing on our experience and expertise in equine fencing, we will share a fact-based and insight-driven comparison of strainer posts.  


In this article, we will focus on comparing steel strainer posts with timber strainer posts based on various factors, including strength, quality, performance, usage, suitability, longevity, cost, availability, and installation. 


It’s essential to note that a strainer post is just one part of the entire end assembly. For timber end assemblies, you’ll require two posts, one top horizontal rail and a bracing wire set at a 45-degree angle to the posts to complete the end assembly. In contrast, steel end assemblies consist of two horizontal rails and two posts that are welded together. In this blog, we will focus solely on the strainer post and not the entire assembly. 


Importance of Strainer Posts 

Before diving into the comparison, let’s emphasise the significance of choosing the right strainer posts. The strainer posts must be robust and resilient enough to withstand the pressure and strain exerted when the fence is tensioned. Whether it’s a single wire, Horserail or mesh, the strainer posts need to hold firm to maintain tension effectively. Hence, selecting the correct size, material, and quality of the strainer posts is vital for a long-lasting and durable fence. 


To fully optimise its efficacy, the strainer posts should be buried in the ground as deeply as they stand above the ground. For instance, if the desired fence height is 1.5 meters, the strainer posts should be embedded 1.5 meters into the ground, requiring a total post length of 3 meters. This balanced approach ensures maximum stability and support for the fence structure. 


Diameter/Strainer Posts Specifications  

Timber strainer posts typically have a diameter between 150 to 200 mm. In contrast, steel strainer posts require only 100 NB (approximately 120 mm outside diameter) and a minimum wall thickness of 4 mm. 

Steel’s superior strength allows for a smaller diameter without compromising structural integrity, while timber necessitates a larger diameter to match steel’s strength. 


The Difference in Strength of Strainer Posts 

Due to steel’s inherent strength, it outperforms timber in terms of load-bearing capacity. Steel strainer posts can be smaller in diameter yet offer similar or even greater strength compared to larger timber posts. 

Timber strainer posts, whether made of hardwood or treated pine, usually require bigger 150 to 200 mm diameters to match the strength of steel. 


Comparison based on Longevity of Strainer Posts 

Both Class 1 hardwood and steel strainer posts boast impressive longevity, capable of lasting for over 30 years. The durability of these materials ensures that your fence remains sturdy and reliable over the long term. 

However, if you’re using treated pine strainer posts, the story could be different as they last approximately 10 to 15 years. Both hardwood and treated pine are a natural product and their life can alter based on factors such as location, weather, mould and termites in the area. 


The Different Looks of Strainer Posts 

The choice between timber and steel strainer posts can significantly impact the overall aesthetics of your fence. 

If you have timber intermediate posts spanning your property, it makes sense to complement them with timber strainer posts as well. Opting for timber strainer posts in this scenario maintains a consistent, rustic, and natural look throughout the fence line. 

On the other hand, choosing a steel end assembly allows for greater flexibility in the design. By selecting steel strainer posts for the end assembly, you open up the possibility of using other materials for the intermediate posts, such as galvanized steel or even hogan posts. This combination achieves a sleek, uniform, and contemporary look, making your property stand out with its clean lines and minimalist appeal. 


Comparing Installation of Strainer Posts

Timber is generally easier to work with during installation, especially when fitting mesh or wire fencing. 

On the other hand, steel installation might require the expertise of a professional contractor due to its hardness and welding requirements. 


The Difference in Maintenance of Strainer Posts 

Once installed, steel strainer posts remain virtually unchanged for decades and require minimal maintenance. 

On the other hand, timber strainer posts demand more attention, particularly when using treated pine, which is softer and susceptible to termites. Additionally, natural timber products can shrink, crack, and warp, necessitating regular maintenance. 


Cost of Timber Vs Steel Strainer Posts 

Steel strainer posts tend to be more expensive than treated pine but comparable in cost to hardwood fencing. 

Treated pine strainer posts, in particular, offer a more budget-friendly option, often priced at half the cost of steel. 

*Cost of 200 mm diameter Treated Pine Strainer Post – AUD 60 including GST 

*Cost of 3 m length 150-200mm Diameter Iron bark Strainer Post – AUD 130 including GST 

*Cost of 100 NB 3 meter steel strainer post – AUD 135 – 155 including GST 

These prices are approximate.  


The Variance in Availability of Strainer Posts 

Both steel and treated pine strainer posts are readily available, ensuring easy access for most fencing projects. However, hardwood strainer posts might have some supply issues but can still be obtained with some planning. 


Which Strainer Post is Best for My Property – Timber or Steel? 

You are building your end assemblies and wanted to know which material would be ideal for your property.  


Now you know the choice between steel strainer posts and timber strainer posts depends on various factors, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Steel strainer posts offer greater strength and durability with a smaller diameter, making them a practical option for those seeking a modern and low-maintenance fence. On the other hand, timber strainer posts are more suitable for properties with timber intermediate posts, providing a cohesive and traditional look. 


When deciding between the two, it’s crucial to consider the specific needs of your fencing project, including the desired aesthetic, budget, and maintenance requirements. If you prioritise a natural and rustic appearance and are willing to invest in regular maintenance, timber strainer posts can be an excellent choice. However, if you value a contemporary and uniform look, and prefer a long-lasting, low-maintenance solution, steel strainer posts are the more suitable option. 


At Stock & Noble, we understand that every fencing project is unique, and our expertise lies in providing tailored solutions to suit your requirements. Whether you opt for steel or timber strainer posts, we ensure that each component of your end assembly is of the highest quality, built to last, and able to withstand the test of time. 


As you embark on your fencing journey, remember that the strainer post is a vital component that directly impacts the overall strength and longevity of your fence. If you are planning to have flexible rail fencing on your property, it’ll be worth digging further into the role and requirement of strainer posts for Horserail that could help you make the right fencing choices. 


Take the time to carefully consider your preferences, property aesthetics, and long-term maintenance expectations to make an informed decision. Our team is here to assist you every step of the way and to provide answers to any questions you may have regarding end assemblies, strainer posts or finding the finest fencing solutions for your property. 


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