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Small Cabin Forum / Cabin Construction / Post rot
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# Posted: 19 May 2009 21:30

Hi all, I was curious about building a cabin on posts set in the ground. I was wondering if covering the posts in roofing tar would seal them permanently and prevent them from rotting. Does anyone out ther know if this would work or would have a different idea about this?

# Posted: 20 May 2009 10:18

If you decide to use posts, the best is to use PT (pressure-treated) posts - they will not rot (see this link on pressure treated wood).

Cedar posts have natural resistance to rot - they would be my second choice, but I would treat them first with the same "green solution" first (you can get it form the building supply store), then tar.

# Posted: 20 May 2009 19:16

Thanks for your input. The reason I thought about the roofing tar is because I hiked some up to my cabin site. It is remote (2 miles from road) and I have to hike all my supplies up. So I was thinking about what I have on hand. I will check with the local hardware store about this solution.

# Posted: 21 May 2009 11:02

the 2 mile hike would be a long hual for sure .
were our cabin is the ants would gobble up the cedar in about a year , they love it for some reason . i think if i were using posts buried in the ground i would try to surround them with gravel or drainrock not dirt after you tar them , then any moisture could seep away .
were our home is on the coast there is lots of dampness and anything in the ground will rot even preasure treated but it would be the best choice and last a lot longer .

sorry i don,t know the real answer , just my thoughts

# Posted: 21 May 2009 12:22

I've never heard of anyone using roofing tar to protect posts in the ground. Not to say it wouldn't work, but it would be an experiment, and you might end up having to replace them sooner than you expect.

The green solution CabinBuilder recommended is called end-cut is intended for treating the cut ends on already treated wood. For posts in the ground, most of the decay happens in the top few inches of soil. I don't know how well it would soak into the wood through the side grain, but it's definitely worth trying.

And as Swanugly says, keeping the posts dry will help. In addition to the gravel, you could try to overhang your beams and joists so all the posts are inset a foot or so from the cabin sides.

This report compares cedar vs PT wood for use in highway signposts:

In Oregon State University's wood post studies, Port Orford cedar posts lasted an average of 20 years, whereas pressure treated
wood posts remained in service one-and-a-half to three times longer than Port Orford cedar.

# Posted: 7 Aug 2009 09:42

I just put in a wood privacy fence.

I used pressure treated wood and sealed the ends with roofing tar a few inches above ground.

Do both.

I've seen fences in my area (which has a lot of natural springs) that used pressure treated wood in cement. After 10 or so years, they rotted through ABOVE the ground and snapped off at the top of the cement.

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