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  • Installing Steel Sign Posts, advice needed?

    Posted by Dan on June 13, 2022 at 9:25 am


    This is a little embarrassing, I’ve been making signs for quite some time and I have never once needed to install a post, I just never get the enquiries for that kind of work and I never look for it.

    I now need to install two 3m posts for the sign, the sign will be 1m x 1.5m approx and needs to be 2m above the ground so it can be viewed over a hedge.

    It seems simple enough, I get that I need to dig into the ground a cement the post in but I wondered if there are any tricks.

    Craig Thompson replied 2 years, 1 month ago 5 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • Craig Thompson

    June 13, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    This has worked for me in the past, obviously just a guide.

    Sign channel applied to back of sign with UHB tape with primer & rivets.

    Lay panel on the floor (if you can) and attach posts to the sign channel then you have your hole measures,

    dig holes same depth / width as you need, offer sign up, if level get concrete or post mix in and square up, if you feel you need riggers install these after.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • Martyn Heath

    June 14, 2022 at 4:07 am

    Exactly as craig has described. The only thing i would add is hole depth, i always go 1ft in the ground for every 3ft out the ground

  • Dan

    June 14, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Thanks guys.

    How long would you estimate for digging 2x 3m poles out and installing new ones. Would you say this is a one day job for two people?

    Are there any special tools needed to dig out old posts?

    • Martyn Heath

      June 14, 2022 at 12:05 pm

      hard to say about the removing. Depends how they have been done. Personally i would book 2-3 hrs one man if i had to dig and erect the sign from scratch. If your digging out the old sign and using existing holes, assuming you can remove all the concrete then you kinda killing two birds. Obviously have no idea of conditions or how the job has been done but i think one man a full day is plenty and some.

  • Dan

    June 14, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you.

  • RobertLambie

    June 14, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Dan

    The Hole:
    Craig’s illustration gives you a good starters guide to the depth.
    Make sure you do not dig a narrow hole or a hole that tapers in like an upside-down cone at the bottom.
    Do your best to keep the hole about 18 inches in diameter all the way down.

    Time / Labour:
    This totally depends on the ground and the depth of holes required.
    * Hard soil in the middle of a field. 20 minutes per hole.
    * The same hole, through soil and rubble, double it.
    * The same hole through tarmac and ground bottoming. three to 4 times longer.

    Two men till half the time, and it is always good to have a second man working alongside you as things can get awkward doing it alone.

    For just general freestanding sign work, the likes of Postcrete is fine as a quick solution to a premixed bag of concrete to secure the post.
    Personally, prefer to mix my own with sand, stones, cement and water because you get a good heavy strong fixing. As I said though, the post create will do you fine.

    A well-dug hole going down about 600-700mm will require 3-4 bags of postcrete each.
    You may use slightly less, but you can return it or keep it for another job. but definitely better to have too much or too little. Do not be tempted to backfill on top with soil to save a bit. it does not secure the sign properly and may lean back after strong wind or pushed back by kids.

    The Sign:
    You will require:
    * x1no. Aluminium composite.
    The sign should be a decent grade composite. Note a lite version of the brand or hoarding board.
    * x4no. channel rails on the rear.
    * x8no. 76mm clips
    * x2no. 76mm Galvanised steel posts
    * x2no. 76mm plastic caps
    * x8no. bags of postcrete
    * x2no. plastic water drums that hole 25 litres of water.

    You will get postcrete from most builders merchants or B&Q cost about £6 per bag.
    You will get the channel, clips and other accessories from Righton.
    Or, if you do not want to buy all the elements to make the sign. Just buy it pre-made at the size you need, from Righton. Complete with posts and caps. All you have to do is apply the graphics and install the sign.

    Digging Equipment:

    x2no. – decent bull-nose/pointed spades
    x1no. – steel pinch bar
    x1no. – Spirit level
    x2no. pairs – Rubber palmed gloves.
    x2no. – 25 Litre Water Bottles
    x1no. – Cat Scan
    x1no. Spanner or socket or adjustable spanner to tighten the clips.

    Do a quick Youtube search for how to use postcrete.
    It is very simple, but you must follow the process or the post fixing will not set as it should.

    Pinch bar:
    I cant advise stronger on the use of a decent steel digging pinch bar at approx 1700mm long.
    One digs with the bar breaking up the soil, while the other digs the loose soil out with the spade.
    then rotate the steps. much faster and easier particularly if you hot hard stone.

    Gloves are a must. your hands will quickly become sore and between the digging, pinching and mixing, concrete etc you will have blisters in no time. You pick them up in any builder’s yard for £2 a pair.

    Cat Scan:
    Most never bother with a catscan, whereas I refuse to dig without having one for a quick check.
    we bought ours years ago and can be pricey, but they are very cheap to rent from a local tool hire company for a day or half day.
    Basically, you wave the scan over the area that you plan to dig and it will detect things like electricity cables, pipes, telecommunication wires etc it basically buzzes like crazy and loud the closer you are to whatever is below you.
    Again, a quick youtube search for “how to properly use a ground/digging cat scan” will show you what to do.

    I have really just generalised everything above. hope this helps.

  • Dan

    June 15, 2022 at 11:18 am


    Thank you, thank you, thank you thank you.

    Very detailed and exactly what I needed.

    I’ll in the process of working out my quote so wish me luck.

  • Craig Thompson

    June 15, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    These are also a god send for smaller post signs…..

  • Simon Worrall

    June 15, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    Here in NZ we have a service called “before-u-dig” online.

    You put in the location in the map where you want to dig, and the website alerts all the relevant services – electric, water, gas, drains, council, etc, who then email you maps and charts of the location and you can figure it out and avoid the tricky stuff.

    I cannot imagine the cost of digging into a power cable. I wouldnt go there without thorough knowledge of what is down there.

    • Craig Thompson

      June 16, 2022 at 10:53 am

      That is a great idea – I have done a CAT scanning course to detect cables and services but I still dig carefully and look after each bit of dirt I take out…..

      I’m sure it would cost a small fortune £££

  • RobertLambie

    June 15, 2022 at 9:36 pm

    I agree Craig, digging Spoons are very handy mate. I tend to only use them on holes over 650mm.
    I actually broke a pair of ours just before the initial lockdown period. similar to the ones in your photo!
    We had ours for years, so I thought I would replace them with a pair of the ones I have attached below.
    My logic was they were a nice heavy-duty well built set. Man was I wrong! these things are a nightmare.
    the weight of them, coupled by the position of your arms operating them out in front of you, add the weight of the dirt, and after a few goes with them you feel like your arms are going to explode! 🤣
    You have reminded me i need to buy a new set like i had in the past. 👍😎

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