How to Build a Cheap Guardrail for Your Driveway

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How to Build a Cheap Guardrail for Your Driveway

Many roads have an area that requires some type of safety guard rail to prevent vehicles from sliding off the highway in inclement weather or perhaps just driver error. Metal guardrails can be quite expensive and require a pound truck (Sterling) to set the guardrail posts. With a little sweat and a lot of effort you can build a guardrail for almost no money. Power and phone companies continually replace their poles on a regular basis. This can only be an upgrade to a pole to bring new transformers or to raise a section of wires for vehicle traffic and so on.

These companies need to pay to have these old poles disposed of and that’s where you have a step. Contact your local power or telephone company and ask where they keep damaged or old poles and say you would like to have some. In almost all cases, they will be happy to get rid of them. It saves them money. Of course, you can’t carry full size poles so you need a chain saw with some old chains brought in to cut the poles into manageable six foot long sections. Please note that I said old used chains for your saw. Sharpen them before cutting, but be prepared to discard them when you’re done cutting the poles. Power poles are usually full of nails hidden by your neighbors posting their garage sale signs, but they’re also full of screws, pins, and all kinds of metal items. Every piece of metal is death for a saw chain. You can or of course visually scan for these items before cutting, but the hidden ones are the problem. Be sure to wear heavy work gloves when handling these poles, as there will be plenty of splinters and any sharp objects will tend not to cut or stab as easily. Be careful while working and always wear eye and ear protection.

A guardrail needs a post every six or eight feet and, of course, at any point where the guardrail turns a corner. A twenty-four-foot straight guardrail with a post on six-foot centers would require five posts. Also a reminder that power poles are coated with creosote, so wear old clothes when handling them. You will also need the longest pieces you can handle for a top rail. A top rail provides much better protection, but only close enough smooth posts can still provide very good protection. With all the pole and rail pieces now at home, place the centers of each post. Remember to measure from the starting point of the first post and not the center line. Intermediate posts are measured at the center line and the last post is the far side from the first post.

Here’s where you need to decide if you want to dig the post holes or hire someone with a truck to do it for you. Your work is free, but a lot of time, the auger truck is quick and easy, but it costs a little money. If your short on time or help, the auger truck can be a good investment. With the holes dug, make your starting point. Once in the correct position, check to make sure the post sticks a minimum of two feet above the finished grade. Back fill the post tamping the material in place as you go. Now move on to the rest of the posts making sure that each one is on the center line and the proper height.

A good trick here is if your guardrail is in a straight line, do the first and last posts first. Place a nail in the center of these two places and tighten a line between them. You now have a quick guide to the center lines and heights of all intermediate posts without having to measure each one. Once all the posts are in place, let them sit for a few days and hope that some rainfall will come to further settle the soil around the posts. If you have a water source nearby, a good immersion of the cooling grounds will speed up the establishment process. Clean up around your places by removing all rocks and excess spoils and maybe throw in some grass seed to restore the area. It is much easier to do this before placing the top rail. Raking under the rail and climbing back and forth over it wears you out very quickly.

Once ready for your top rail, put the top rail next to the posts on the ground with one end overhanging the first post a few centimeters. Mark the upper tail for both sides of all the places. Once marked, you must carefully cut a slot two inches deep to receive the top of the post once the rail is installed on the posts. Try to be as neat as you can, but you are cut with the chainsaw. A half inch wider notch is no big deal. Place the top cut rail on the posts. I used sixty cent galvanized landscaping spikes to attach the rail to the posts. You may want to pre-drill the holes in the top rail and you will need at least a five pound hammer. Two wedges in each post should be enough. Once the entire rail is in place, you can simply let it weather naturally or add a new coat of stain or sealant.

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