Most people do not mind shelling out a bit of their hard-earned money just to have their clothesline poles installed at home but there are quite a few out there who are not bothered with getting their hands dirty.
We are guessing that you belong to the latter group who are fond of DIY projects, if that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place. We will do our best to help answer a few of the most popular questions when installing washing line poles and provide you with the necessary knowledge so you can get started quickly.
Ready-made washing line pole kits for installation can be purchased at your nearest hardware stores or you can seek help from a neighbour who just got rid of their used ones if it’s more convenient for you, this way you get to have a clothesline for free while saving the environment!
Tools needed to proceed with the installation:
Clothesline poles or clothesline pole kit
Carpenter’s levelling tool
For in-ground/concrete footing installation:
Extra wood posts (to support your poles during the cement curing process)
Post hole digger
Bucket (for mixing the concrete)
Wheelbarrow (if moving a bit of dirt is needed)
For mounting on concrete:
Mounting kit or brackets
Screw-in, stainless steel wedge or sleeve anchors
Mounting bolts (if not using screw-in anchors)
Concrete drill bit correctly sized for the anchors/bolts
Where to Place Your Drying Line?
For starters, your washing line poles to be installed should be situated away from trees, your home’s or a neighbour’s kitchen exhaust vent, and parts of your yard where ants or other creepy crawlies thrive (like shrubs/bushes) because you wouldn’t want your newly-laundered clothes to smell like fried chicken while littered with ants.
It is best to install clothesline pole kits where you can take advantage of the sun’s heat throughout the day. Avoid places where sunlight can be blocked off by a structure or tree.
Just like the cons of parking your car under a tree, the same rule applies to your clothes, tree sap or resin will find their way onto your clothesline’s cords and cause stains that can be very hard to remove from garments, fruit and nut bearing trees are—most often than not—the favourite of birds too so if you don’t want bird droppings on your favourite shirt, you’ll know what to do.
Also it is imperative that you determine the proper distance between posts, if you’re installing a retractable clothesline, take into account the model’s maximum operating distance.
Best Type of Clotheslines Post Material to Use
There are a handful of materials you can choose for your clotheslines posts. We highly recommend Cypress, Cedar or any pressure treated wood for their impeccable resistance to rotting, these types of lumber are also hated by termites, as a matter of fact, pressure treated wood can last anywhere between 30-40 years if properly sealed and maintained.
Teak is the ultimate choice for this type of application if you are the ‘set it and forget it’ kind of person, it is renowned for its durability against the elements and natural resistance to rotting not to mention termites, the only downsides of Teak is it can be expensive and hard to find depending on where you live.
Steel or aluminium are good options too, most steel poles are galvanised nowadays and any concerns with rusting is no longer as prevalent. Aluminium is just as good if not better due to the absolute absence of rust, it is also suitable in salty environments but it has nothing against the sturdiness and cost-efficiency of good old steel.
Despite being an overall great choice for making clothesline posts, you will need to spend a little more in order to have it made since it requires work and a bit of welding to be turned in to T-posts for securing the drying lines. If you’re going for a telescopic/collapsible clothesline pole kit, get one from a manufacturer that has spare parts available everywhere so if something breaks, you can easily repair it yourself.
Sometimes making a decision on this front has more to do with aesthetics than anything else, as long as you know which type of material will work best for your environment, you cannot go wrong with either wood or metal.
In-ground vs Bolted-in Clothesline Poles
For mounting the washing line poles, there are two common options for this: In-ground or bolting it to a concrete/tiled floor.
Digging cement base/footing for your posts is the best route to take despite being work-intensive and messy when compared to the other option. It is a more robust way to secure your clothesline poles since there aren’t bolts, anchors or metal brackets that won’t loosen or rust in the future—or worse, cause cracks on your pavement if not done correctly.
You will be able to save a bit more money too since there’s no need to purchase the mounting brackets, power tools (such as a drill), required drill bits, screws, etc.
If clothesline poles are going to be installed on a sloping terrain, a deeper hole might be needed to ensure solid anchoring and prevent tilting due to additional stress/tension if either poles are
parallel to the slope. If your yard terrain is primarily sand instead of soil then we’re sorry to say that ground mounting is not the solution for you, sand’s instability will eventually cause displacement in the mounting of your clothesline poles.
Bear in mind that there is a possibility to run into utility channels like water, gas, or power. Ensure that your posts are at least a meter away or keep a distance of half a meter in depth if the posts are to be installed over the conduits.
For obstructions such as tree roots, rocks or concrete (all of these will largely depend on the geography/location of your neighbourhood), you might have to seek assistance from a demolition contractor should the situation call for it.
If you would rather the poles be bolted into concrete (like a deck or concrete pad), take a good look at your home’s wiring plan and select a part of the surface where there aren’t any pipes or power lines underneath.
Once that’s done, make certain that the masonry in the area is rock solid and that the the section to be drilled into is at least 4 inches or 100mm thick to prevent the floor from cracking and for the torque to be distributed properly once the clotheslines are under load.
Installing Your Clothesline Poles
Let’s start with the bolt-in version of a washing line pole kit, below is a comprehensive video on drilling as well as proper fastening of sleeves and screws into concrete/masonry.
As for a quick recap, get rid of the mulch first then dig the hole using a post hole digger for convenience, you can get by with a shovel but the hole won’t be as precise, nevertheless, you can always dig a bit deeper to set the concrete a little lower for easy concealing with grass.
If you’re premixing the concrete in a bucket, add in some gravel so you can position the post conveniently once the mix is poured in, use the carpenter’s level flat on top of the pole and the sides to obtain proper alignment, make sure to saturate the hole with a bit of water too so that the concrete does not dry out prematurely and keep it from curing properly.
Let the concrete harden for a day before installing the cords, best to leave it to cure for three days or so to guarantee that it has cured adequately before any force is applied to the posts.
Drying line options
If you haven’t figured out the kind of clothesline you need (which we doubt, we’re certain that you already have one nearby otherwise you won’t be reading this article!) we have a few suggestions that you might want to take a look at.
Drill into the concrete using a masonry bit and the impact drill. Don’t forget to use the bit diameter and length appropriate for the screw or sleeve you will use to anchor the brackets.
You can use a depth stop to nail down the correct deepness of the drilled hole then use a vacuum cleaner to clean off the silica dust around the hole, doing so also helps to minimise dust going back inside the hole which can keep the bolts/fastener from being properly seated, you can also use a can of compressed air to blow out any dust inside the hole.
Once cleaned, position the bracket so the holes line up, drop in a fastener for each hole (or a sleeve anchor) then tighten the nut and washer, being careful not to over-tighten which can cause excessive stress on the sleeves and cause a loose tread keeping your post from being fastened to the floor. For a really solid anchoring prowess, use wedge anchors to secure the brackets by following the video guide above.
It will be a lot easier if the brackets are already attached to the poles minimising measurement delays, this part of the process is a two-person job, it can be done alone but it’s certainly a bit more tricky.
As for anchoring wood posts using cement, here’s a really quick but easy to understand how-to guide, while the video indicates ‘fence post’ the process for clothesline post is pretty much the same.
Please take note that the video demonstrates use of quick-setting cement mix which does not require mixing at all, mixing regular concrete is still a good practice to avoid air pockets and weak spots but all in all this video should make the cut to easily achieve our end goal:
Polyester/nylon is a good, cost-effective option for drying lines, it is also the most common line material since it can be found in hardware stores anywhere so accessibility is a key factor in play here.
The problem with this type of cord is that it sags after a given period of time requiring readjustment, prolonged exposure to the sun and elements will also take its toll on the cord and cause it to fray and break, eventually needing replacement every few years.
If you want something that will stand the test of time, go for Galvanised steel cable. The upfront cost may be a little off-putting but considering that this cable is a no-nonsense affair in terms of durability. You get what you pay for.
For a quicker take on drying lines, you can go with a retractable clothesline like Austral, Daytek, or Hills. All three of these are compatible with post-to-post configurations or post kits and fasteners for easy attachment to existing wood or metal posts.
If everything we have discussed above proves to be too much of a daunting task for you because of all the elbow grease involved in the process, the Hills,Austral and Eco range of fold-down clotheslines—contrary to most people’s beliefs—can be purchased with ground mount kits.