"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Post cap made from scrap
pieces of lumber

Solar fence post cap




Fence Post Caps
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Fence post caps.

If you check the web sites of post cap manufacturers, distributors or home improvement outlets you see common phrases such as: "They look nice". "A great and inexpensive way to improve the appearance of your fence". "Caps add a charming touch to any outdoor area". "Post caps will dress up your outdoor project". "Caps will add stunning touches to any outdoor project", etc. etc. These are all great expressions to promote a product but they they don't say why it is a MUST to install post caps.
Here is why. Any uncapped post cap is not protected from the elements and is susceptible to early wood decay due to rain and the sun's UV rays.
So, now that we have established the reason why we need post caps, lets have a look at what is available. First of all I would like to tell you that I always made my own post caps from scrap pieces of lumber. For a 4x4 inch post just cut a few pieces of 5x5 inches and 3.5x3.5 inches, bevel all sides and nail to the post with hot galvanized nails. Post caps are not only needed for fence posts but also for deck railing posts, mailbox posts, etc. Today, the market offers a wide variety of post caps that will improve the appearance of your fence or deck.




Copper/wood fence post cap
for painted pressure treated wood fence
Here is a list of materials to choose from: cedar, redwood, pressure treated lumber, vinyl, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, brass, pewter, Tiffany glass, low voltage post caps and solar lighted post caps. Post caps are available for the standard 4x4 and 6x6 inch posts but can also be custom made. On a personal note, I just finished putting up a railing around my deck yesterday and today I went out to purchase a solar lighted post cap. I actually needed five but I just bought one first because I wanted to see how it looked like on my deck railing. After unpacking the box I discovered that the clear plastic opening at the bottom of the cap, the part that is supposed to slip over the post, measured exactly 4x4 inches. I guess the manufacturer is not aware of the fact that a 4x4 inch post measures only 3.5x3.5 inches or just a bit more. I could have made a 1/2 inch thick 'insert' but It just didn't look right and I returned the post cap to the store for a refund.

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