The first step in choosing the best fence posts for your fence is to determine how much weight the fence posts will need to support, and which material you want to use for your fence. Some fence posts will look better than others, but another type of post will be stronger than some of the more aesthetically pleasing ones. The strength of the fence post will be based on how big your fence is, what your intended use for the fence will be, and what other features will be included on your fence. Be sure to choose what type of fence posts you will use before you start building.
The most common fence post materials are wood, metal, and concrete. On smaller, picket-style fences, vinyl or plastic fence posts may be used as well, since picket fences are generally quite small and light weight. If the picket fence is built higher than four feet (1.2 meters), the posts will need to be made from a slightly more sturdy material such as wood. Any style of fence taller than that will generally need a stronger support than plastic or vinyl, as the height and weight of such a fence cannot be supported by somewhat flimsy plastic.
If aesthetics is a priority, consider wood fence posts. Cheaper types of wood, such as pine, will cut costs but will not be as attractive as hardwoods such as oak. Oak and other hardwoods stain well, creating a classy look and a sturdy, strong post. While pine may not look as good as other types of woods when stained, it is still a strong and reasonably attractive choice for a wooden post. Consider what size posts you will need for your fence; this will depend on the distance between posts, whether they are secured in concrete or not, and how much weight will be supported by the posts.
Metal posts are a good choice for chain link fences. While not especially aesthetically pleasing, they offer enough support to hold up chain links and they fit the overall aesthetic scheme of the fence. Using wood fence posts for such an application would cost more and have little aesthetic benefit. Concrete posts can also be used for chain link fences, though these tend to be a bit more expensive than metal posts and may not be necessary; they are meant to support heavier fencing materials.