The Ins and Outs of Fence
There is a an old saying that goes, “Fences make better neighbors”, but as most people will share a fence with their neighbor, one might want to learn a bit more about fencing before deciding about whether to make your neighbor your friend or your foe. I have been the owner of a Fence Company for over 30 years, and have grown up in the business, and would like to share with you some important things to know about the types of fence available, as well as some important facts about the details of installing fence. First, let’s look at the four most common fence types available and how each type fits different needs.
The newest type of fence on the market is the Vinyl/PVC fence style. These two words are interchangeable in describing this type. PVC is an acronym that stands for Polyvinyl chloride which is a thermoplastic polymer. This material is widely used in construction as a building material. It is a hard plastic used primarily for its durability and low maintenance. You can easily see why it would work well for fences. Vinyl fence posts are 6 to 12 feet long and are buried at the base 2 to 5 feet into the ground, again, depending on the height of the fence. It is long-lasting and many like its clean, neat look. PVC fence also has many styles available including three rail ranch, tongue and groove privacy and space picket, and comes in white, tan, and gray and brown wood grain colors. Popular manufacturers of PVC fence include Bufftech and Homeland Vinyl Products.
Aluminum fence, also referred to as ornamental fence, is the first choice when you think elegance, and is always used when installing estate gates. Many new neighborhoods have opted for an aluminum only rule because of its quality. Aluminum fence is powder coated and is guaranteed not to rust, peel, chip, fade, or crack if purchased from a premium supplier.
Aluminum fence comes in four basic colors: black and bronze, which are considered standard, hunter green and white. The only drawback to aluminum fence is that it is not intended for privacy, only enclosure. The most popular manufacturers of premium aluminum fence are Ideal Aluminum Products, Barrette, Delgard and Ameristar.
Wood fence utilizes cedar, pine, pressure treated pine, and cypress woods. Wood can have a tendency to warp or crack due to moisture swelling or extreme temperature; therefore, different types are used in different parts of the country. Cedar fence is now more commonly utilized in the south due to the process of kiln drying which reduces warping in the Central Florida heat. Pressure treated pine fence is the most common because of its resistance to higher humidity, heat and pests, such as termites.
Wood constructed fences utilize posts that are typically 4 x 4 inches wide and 6 to 10 feet long. They are buried at the base 2 to 3 feet in the ground, depending on the fence height desired; from 4 to 8 feet tall upon fence completion. The decision to use cement for your posts depends entirely on how much moisture exists in your ground. Cement tends to hold moisture thereby contributing to faster rot. It is usually not recommended in southern states. Life expectancy for wood can range from 10 to 30 years depending on weather conditions and how well it is maintained, and if it is painted, stained or water sealed.
Wood styles can be constructed with the pickets vertically or horizontally depending on the look you are trying to achieve. The most popular continues to be vertical construction. Pickets can be arranged side by side or overlapping. Overlapping pickets are called board on board and side by side construction is called stockade style. If maximum privacy is desired board on board is the style of choice. Yellawood, Universal Forest Products and Sunbelt Forest Products are the most popular manufacturers of wood fence in Florida.
The most simple and affordable of the common fence types is chain link fence. It consists of linked together galvanized metal wire attached to a hollow galvanized metal frame. Like the aluminum style it is not designed for privacy although slats can be inserted between the wire “links” to achieve a minimal amount of privacy. The height for chain link can vary from 4 to 12 feet high and can accommodate barbed wire for protection. There are many gauges of chain link which can be viewed at www.chainlinkinfo.org. Chain link fence also comes vinyl coated in three common colors; galvanized (silver), black and forest green, although vinyl coated fence is a bit more expensive. Master Halco, and Merchants Metals are the most commonly used manufacturers of chain link fence.
Lastly, I would like to share a few tips to remember when installing a fence. Always check with your neighborhood association, county and/or city before choosing your style to make sure you choose what is allowable. Know your property boundaries found on your home survey. And finally, a call to your local utility company can help direct you in identifying where your underground utilities lie. These three things can help you avoid needless delays in enjoying a long awaited new fence.