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After you’ve laid out the location of the support posts for your deck, playset, or other outdoor structure, you’re ready to begin creating the foundations for the posts. This project guide demonstrates one way to use pre-made forms and post anchors to create a strong and durable footing.
Place the forms.
Dig postholes 6 inches below the frost line, pour in 4 inches of gravel, and tamp. Retie the mason’s lines and center fiber tube forms in the corners. Nail pieces of wood to opposite sides of each form so the form sits at least 6 inches above the gravel. Put the form in the hole and level it.
Mix bagged concrete in a wheelbarrow. Start by making a crater in the dry ingredients. Pour in about half the water recommended by the manufacturer. Mix with a mason’s hoe, then slowly add the remaining water until the concrete has the consistency of oatmeal.
Fill the forms.
Shovel concrete into the forms. The concrete will form a footing by spreading out into the 6-inch gap between the form and the bottom of the hole. Keep adding concrete, filling the forms to the top.
Release any trapped air.
Work a 2×4 or shovel up and down in the concrete to release any trapped air. Pull a short section of 2×4 across the top of the form as a screed to level the concrete with the top of the forms.
Insert the J-bolt.
Before the concrete begins to harden, reset the mason’s lines and drop a plum bob to mark the centers of the posts. Sink 6-inch J-bolts into the concrete. Coat the J-bolt threads with petroleum jelly or soap so concrete will not stick to them.
Remove the forms.
Allow the concrete to cure for two to three days, then strip off the forms and fill in around the concrete with soil. Tamp the soil with your feet.
Install post anchors.
Put a post anchor over the J-bolt. Put a washer over the bolt. Fasten with a nut.
Attach the posts.
Attach rot resistant 4×4 posts to the post anchors with hanger nails. Cut a recess in the side of the post, if necessary, to fit it into the anchor.
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