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Treated Pine Posts vs. Steel Fence Posts: A Comprehensive Comparison 

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Treated Pine Post and Steel fence post - fencing - comparison

Choosing the right fence post is crucial for maintaining the structural integrity of your fence. The post acts as the backbone ensuring that the fence remains strong and safe. The wrong choice of post material or inadequate installation can lead to a weak or unstable fence, compromising its effectiveness in containing livestock, providing security, or defining property boundaries. Therefore, for the long-term durability and functionality of your fence, it’s worth learning about how to select the appropriate fence post for your property. 


If you’ve already looked through different options of fence posts and want to dig deeper into the two popular options of treated pine and steel, then keep reading. 


At Stock & Noble, we are dedicated to offering top-quality fencing materials to properties throughout Australia and New Zealand. We recognize the significance of choosing the ideal fencing materials for your property. So, while we proudly offer the Hogan Plastic Fence Post, we want to provide you with comprehensive, fact-based information about the available solutions to help make an informed decision. 


In this blog post, we will delve into a detailed comparison of treated pine posts and steel fence posts, analysing factors such as quality, longevity, performance, installation, maintenance, availability, and cost. By understanding the key differences between these two options, you can choose the fence post that suits your specific needs. 


Comparison of Product Specifications: Treated Pine Posts vs. Steel Fence Posts 


Specifications of Treated Pine Posts 



In our experience, at most equine properties, the common diameter for pine posts is 100 – 120mm. Going smaller than this compromises the strength of the fence posts. 100mm offers a good balance of strength and affordability. Larger diameters are available but come at a higher cost. 



Treated pine posts for equine properties are typically 2.1 to 2.4 meters long. This length allows them to be securely rammed into the ground for stability. 


Treatment Level

Property owners often opt for H-4 treated pine posts. H4 is the highest level of treatment available and provides the longest-lasting durability for treated pine posts. 


Strainer Post Diameter

For strainer posts, the typical diameter of treated pine is approximately 150mm. These larger posts provide additional strength and stability for the fencing system. 


Specifications of Steel Fence Posts 



 Steel fence posts can have a smaller diameter compared to treated pine posts due to their inherent strength. The smaller the diameter of the steel fence posts, the more cost-effective they are. 

However, it’s important to note that we are not referring to star pickets, which are inexpensive but tend to be flimsy and not safe for use around horses due to their sharp edges. 

The recommended type of steel fence post is the galvanized round steel pipe. For typical line posts, the diameter is typically around 75mm. 



Steel fence posts are generally similar in length to treated pine posts because they need to be firmly inserted into the ground for stability and strength. 

Strainer Post Diameter

For strainer posts or end assemblies, a larger diameter of 100 NB is commonly used, where “NB” refers to the internal measurement of the post. 


Comparison of Quality & Longevity: Treated Pine vs. Steel Fence Posts 



When it comes to longevity, steel fence posts outperform treated pine posts by a significant margin. Steel, particularly galvanized steel, tends to last 3 to 4 times longer than treated pine, thanks to its durability in varying weather conditions commonly found in Australia. 


Vulnerability to Damage

 Treated pine is susceptible to various forms of damage, including rot, termite infestation, fire, cribbing, and wind-sucking. In hot Australian conditions, treated pine posts are prone to cracking open and rotting. On the other hand, steel fence posts are primarily susceptible to rust, which can be mitigated through proper galvanization. 



The typical lifespan of a treated pine fence post is around 10 years, whereas steel fence posts can last up to 30 years or more. However, it’s important to note that there are instances of both treated pine and steel posts exceeding these average lifespans. 

It’s worth mentioning that the quality of modern-day treated pine posts is not on par with those treated 20 years ago due to changes in chemical treatment methods. 


Considering the significant difference in longevity and the various vulnerabilities of treated pine posts, steel fence posts offer a more durable and reliable option for long-term fencing solutions. 


Comparison of Performance & Safety: Treated Pine vs. Steel Fence Posts 


Horse Safety

Both steel fence posts and treated pine posts offer a high level of safety for horses. However, it’s important to note that steel posts should have caps over their tops to prevent any sharp edges that could potentially injure horses.  

Additionally, pine posts have been known to let staples or nails fall out as the posts crack open. This means the fencing staples can penetrate a hoof as horses often will run around the perimeter or come up to the fence regularly. We believe this is a big negative for pine posts if you intent to use staples, nails or screws to attach the fencing. 


In terms of a give or flexibility, treated pine posts are slightly safer as they offer a bit more flexibility compared to steel. 



In terms of maintenance, steel fence posts outperform treated pine. Treated pine posts are prone to rotting and other issues that can compromise their stability. Regular visual checks are necessary for treated pine posts. 

On the other hand, steel posts require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan. The main aspect to monitor for steel fence posts is rust. 

This isn’t an issue if you’re using Buckley Steel Post and rail fencing which has an effective rust management system. You can dig deeper and find out more about which steel post performs the best against rust. 


Horse Health

Continuous chewing of treated pine posts by horses can adversely affect their health. On the contrary, when horses crib on steel posts, they cannot bite off any material, minimizing any potential health risks. 


Considering both safety and maintenance factors, while treated pine may offer slightly more flexibility and horse safety, steel fence posts provide a more durable and low-maintenance option, reducing the need for frequent checks and potential issues with rotting. 


Comparison of Installation: Treated Pine Posts vs. Steel Fence Posts 


Ease of Installation

Both treated pine posts and steel fence posts are generally easy to install. The choice between the two often comes down to personal preference.  

Treated Pine is generally easier to drill, cut and handle. However, an experienced contractor can be equally as efficient with steel posts. 


Installation Speed

Steel posts, being harder and more rigid, are typically quicker and easier to install in most conditions. However, it’s important to consider the ground conditions. If the ground is rocky or challenging, attempting to ram a timber post may result in the top of the post being damaged. In such cases, steel posts may be a more suitable option. Thin wall steel posts (2mm or less) can start to splay when being rammed into hard ground where as 4mm wall thickness provides a rock-solid fence post. 


In summary, the installation process for both treated pine and steel fence posts is relatively straightforward. The choice between the two depends on personal preference, ground conditions, and the need for drilling holes or cutting etc. 


Comparison based on Availability: Treated Pine Posts vs Steel Fence Posts 



Both treated pine and steel fence materials are generally readily available in the market. However, pine may be more commonly found compared to steel. It is a widely used fencing material and can be easily sourced. 


Termites Prone Areas

In areas prone to termite infestations, steel fence materials are often more readily available. This is because it has been recognized that pine may not be suitable or durable enough in such regions. Therefore, steel becomes a preferred option due to its resistance to termite damage. 


When considering the availability factor, it is important to note that while treated pine post is generally more commonly found, steel fence materials are readily accessible in termite-prone areas where the demand for a more durable option is higher. 


Comparison of Looks: Treated Pine Posts vs. Steel Fence Posts 


Personal Preference

During our interactions, many customers have expressed their preference for the aesthetic appeal of timber when combined with black horserail. For instance, they appreciate the natural look and feel that treated pine posts provide. 


Long-Term Appearance

On the flip side, steel fence posts maintain a consistent appearance over a longer period. While treated pine posts may change and weather over the years, steel fence posts retain their original look for an extended duration. Treated pine posts can eventually appear tired or worn out with time. 



Both treated pine posts and steel fence posts offer the option to enhance their appearance through painting. If you desire to upgrade the look of either option, both can be painted. However, it’s important to note that steel paint is typically more expensive compared to paint used for treating timber. 


In terms of looks, customer feedback indicates a preference for the natural and visually pleasing appearance of treated pine posts. However, it’s important to consider that steel fence posts offer a consistent look over a longer period. Both options can be painted to further enhance their appearance, but it’s essential to keep in mind the potential cost difference when choosing steel paint. 


Comparison of Cost: Treated Pine Posts vs. Steel Fence Posts 


Treated Pine Posts

Diameter: 100mm – 125mm 

Length: 2.1m 

Price Range: $17 – $25 (including GST) per post 

Pricing depends on quantity and location 

Steel Fence Posts

Diameter: 65NB (75mm outside diameter) 

Length: 2.1m 

Price Range: $67 – $81 (including GST) per post 

Pricing varies based on quantity and whether you buy full packs of 6.1m lengths and cut them down to size yourself 


Overall treated pine posts are more cost-effective, however, steel fence posts last longer, look consistent over time and need less maintenance.  


Which Fence Posts Are Best for Your Property – Treated Pine Posts or Steel Fence Posts? 

You are looking to build a safe and beautiful property and wanted to know the comparison between treated pine posts and steel fence posts. 


Now you know the choice between treated pine posts and steel fence posts depends on various factors, including a budget, long-term plans for the property, and specific requirements. 


If you have a limited budget and a short-term view of the property, treated pine posts can be a suitable option. Despite their affordability, it’s important to note that pine posts are susceptible to issues like rotting, cracking, infestation and chewing. 


On the other hand, if you envision your property as a long-term investment and value durability and minimal maintenance, steel fence posts are the better choice. By adding caps to steel fence posts, you can ensure the safety of horses while enjoying a consistent appearance that will endure over time. Steel fence posts provide a lasting solution, eliminating the need for frequent replacements and reducing overall maintenance costs. 


Ultimately, the decision should align with your budget, property goals, and the specific needs of your fencing project. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option carefully to make an informed choice that meets your requirements and provides the best value in the long run. What will also prove useful is the kind of fencing you’re planning to attach to the fence posts. It’ll be worth investing time in learning the best fence and post combinations for your property. 


If you have more questions on the quality, suitability, installation and cost of different fence posts, it’s best to connect with one of our fencing experts. They will answer all your queries in detail and help you steer in the right direction to achieve your vision of a gorgeous property.

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