The History Of The Fence Post Cap
a little piece of post cap history
Little is known to most about the true purpose of a fence or deck post cap; or why people started using them in the first place. Most people decide to purchase post caps for their own aesthetic pleasure without realizing the importance of the decision they are making in protecting their investment.
The modern decorative post cap is a relatively recent addition to standard construction materials, however fence post caps themselves have been commonly used for nearly a century, with only one purpose in mind.....protection of a post. These early versions of the modern post cap you see today would be, lets say less then attractive addition on your new home and more likely of a fit in Samford and Sons junk yard. What was the most common post cap used prior to the attractive post caps you see today?..........A coffee can.
I remember seeing coffee cans on the tops of my grandfathers split rail post surrounding his little country home in Muskogee, Oklahoma; To me they were nothing more but a target to try and hit with my homemade sling shot, never could i have imagined that one day these simple items would be my source of income to support my family. I also never once wondered "why did grandpa have coffee cans on his fence"? Well the answer was quite simple...protection.
Even using old split rail wood as his fence post, my grand father knew that it was a lot easier to protect the work he had already done then to replace it every few years. You see wood post although extremely resilient to decay from the moisture seeping into the side of the post, have very little resistance to moisture gaining access through the top of the post, which can cause the wood to swell and crack; My grandfather knew this so his answer to the problem was, cover the top with something that won't let the water in;....a coffee can seemed like the perfect choice. I also remember pieces of old tin roof and sheet metal bent around the tops of the post, but coffee cans seemed to be the preferred method.
So when choosing to put a post cap on your fence and deck, you now know that your not only purchasing something that will be aesthetically pleasing for years to come but you are protecting the expensive post and hard work that it took to build. I wooden post that has a quality fence post cap on it can last up to 50 years without needing to replace it, without a post cap your post may have pretty short life of 5-10 years if left unprotected.
See our post on Why You Need Post Caps.