VINYL FENCE MATERIAL
Vinyl fence is made from PVC, plastic in simpler terms. This makes them weather proof, maintenance free and longer lasting as compared to the traditional wood fence. They are environment friendly as they can be recycled and used in the manufacturing process again. We will be talking about the main types of vinyl fences and giving helpful tips to customers who are in the market for a new vinyl fence.
The main types of vinyl fence are:
- Tongue and Groove Privacy fence
- Semi-Privacy Fence
- Pool Fence
- Picket Fence
- Rail / Ranch fence
Vinyl Privacy Fence
A vinyl Privacy fence has tongue and groove pickets that lock together to create a full privacy environment for your home or property. There are lots of styles, design, flavors and color available in this type of fencing style. Mostly used around a pool or house, where privacy is of utmost importance, and appearance next.
Vinyl Fence Colors
The most widely available colors for the vinyl fence are
Gates are one part of the fence that are manipulated a lot and can vary from company to company. They are also the most commonly, “going bad” thing of a fence. So choosing a good gate is very important.
A Vinyl Gate should be strong and sturdy with strong metal hinges or else they will get misaligned or the gate will sag and not lock. The key to having a good gate is to have the following – The hinges should be multi-adjustable for vertical and horizontal adjustment. Plus It is an added benefit to have tension adjustment for self-closing. It is good to have stainless steel hinges to avoid rust. For wider gates, it is good to have a diagonal reinforcement to make it sturdier. A strong gate will be pop-riveted on both sides
The best size for a rail is 5.5" by 1.5". For normal 6′ wide panels, it is not necessary to have aluminum reinforcement, but when you choose to have wider panels, say 8′, then it becomes necessary to have aluminum reinforcement in the rails to prevent the panel from sagging. A good way to keep the cost low and have stronger fence is to use 6′ wide panels with good quality pickets. Now you may think that by having less wider panels, you will end up using more posts and cost will go up anyways. But if you consider all three aspect; such as strength, width and cost, then doing the math you will see that having 6′ wide panels with the right pickets eliminates the use of aluminum reinforcement and the total cost will be lower, when you add labor and time. We will talk more about what makes a good picket soon.
Most manufacturers use 6" wide pickets in tongue and groove fence. It is a good standard for making stronger pickets. Having wider pickets can make them less impact and wind resistant. A panel build with wider pickets will bend and sag more easily as compared to a 6" wide picket. But most importantly, what makes a picket stronger is the webbing in the picket and not it’s width. The industry standard for maximum strength picket is to have 3 webbing in it. Although 2 webbed pickets are most commonly used, 3 webbed 6" pickets are the maximum strength pickets you can buy in the market. Holding both 2 and 3 webbed pickets in hand and trying to bend them in a linear way, will tell you right away the difference in them. Even a kid can make out the difference in the two. But again the cost factor will come in here. Since the 3 webbed pickets uses more vinyl, it is more expensive. Most online stores or your supermarket will carry 2-webbed picket.
Posts are as important as pickets and panels. But generally posts are less likely to be messed up. Few things to watch out in posts are – make sure that the post is not made from re-grinded PVC. A good way to check is to press a loose end of the post and see if cracks form on the inside of the post. To have good, strong posts, it is best to buy from a reputed company, because there is technology available to use re-grinded PVC and still make strong posts.
Vinyl Post Caps
Everyone loves beautiful post caps. They enhance the beauty of the fence and give it an accent. It is like wearing a particular type of hat to define who you are. The most common types of post caps are:
- Inside pyramid
- Outside pyramid
- New England
- Ball Cap
- Gothic Cap
Privacy Fence Styles
Apart from the different colors that full privacy fences can be made available, there are also classy flavors available. Different companies give them different names and we will go over the main ones here:
This is basically the same full privacy fence with a lattice above the top rail. The lattice design is of criss-cross pattern. While picking this type of fence, one should make sure that the top rail holding the lattice is not really thin. It should be of decent girth. Lattice fences are available in 3 sizes – mainly, 5′, 6′ and 7′ height by 8′ wide. They are also generally a little more expensive than the full privacy tongue and groove.
Victorian Accent Fence
This is a full privacy fence with lattice type design above the top rail, only difference is that the lattice is straight, vertical rather than a criss-cross.
This is another type of accent that you may get to see. It has weaved, pattern of lattice, going vertical and horizontal, instead of criss-cross.
Wood Grain Fence
Imagine a fence that delivers the beauty of natural wood without the hassle of ongoing maintenance, associated with wood fence. That is what wood grain fence features- a realistic wood texture on vinyl fence. Available in 5′ & 6′ heights.
Stone Texture Fence
This is a new type of Vinyl fence, which is totally out of ordinary. It has the looks of stone, but give you the flexibility of vinyl. They are moderately priced, give the look and feel of stone or granite fence and are pretty strong as well. They might be the perfect fit for a fence around a stone style structure or around a pool, landscaped with stones.
Tongue and Groove w/ 3 Rails
This is similar to the standard 6′ tongue and groove, but utilizes a 3 rail system, instead of 2. And each rail is aluminum reinforced for extra strength. This fence comes in 6′, 7′, and even 8′ heights! This type of fence is more stable and has more strength as it has 3 rails instead of 2 and has aluminum reinforcement on all three rails. It can be available with accent as well.
Pool Code Privacy Fence
This type of privacy fence has to meet the pool code requirements and may have accent on top of the fence. Each company makes their own design and accents. But a good industry standard would be Huntington. It is available in 6′ high and 8′ wide.
The size of pickets can make different types of fences. Starting from 3′ pickets to almost 12′ pickets, they can define a fence and give it differentiating looks. Pickets with size somewhere in the middle have better shock resistance as compared to the lower and higher width pickets.
In semi-privacy fence, the pickets are NOT interlocked, instead they are either placed one top of the other or in a wave pattern. This leaves a small amount of gap in between them, leaving room for some light to pass in between them. Hence they are called semi-privacy fence. Many of the semi-privacy fences come with standard features as the full privacy fence, like the rails, lattice, same weather resistant material and colors.
If you are getting wider panels, make sure that you get fences with the bottom rail reinforced with aluminum and not galvanized steel. This will prevent rusting and leaking the awful red rust to the white fence. It really ruins the looks of the fence. Second thing to watch out for is to make sure that the pickets are woven into the rails, instead of being glued together.
Common type of Semi-privacy Fence
6" Wide Pickets – This type of fence have 6″ wide pickets and are available in common colors. It can also be made available with lattice and other accents
3" Wide Pickets – This type of fence have 3″ wide pickets and are available in common colors. It can also be made available with lattice and other accents.
Vinyl Pool Fence
Most of the pool fences are built with less wider pickets and have more spacing in between them. Most manufacturers use 3" by 1.5" wide pickets with 1" to 3" spacing and run a top and bottom rail. They are available in a wide range of heights raging from 3″ to 6″ and are generally the least expensive among the three.
Most manufacturers give fancy names to their 6" or 3" semi-privacy fence based on the size of the picket, the spacing between two and the use of any accent above the top rail. A good contractor should have the technology to fabricate any design any type of fence you want. Customer should not have to stick to some fancy named fence of some particular design only. As long as the quality of the material is maintained, fabrication should not be a big factor for a successful contractor who has a ware house and the right equipment to do the job right.
ALUMINUM FENCE MATERIAL
An aluminum fence is the best when it comes to strength, beauty and durability. But they do have a bigger price tag as well. Aluminum fences can be custom designed to any ornamental style and powder coated with any color to give your fence the beauty and elegance it deserves. Aluminum fence is the king of fences, hands down.
Making an Aluminum Fence
It all starts in an Aluminum plant where the furnace melts and shapes molten aluminum into hollow pipes, angles, brackets, sheets etc. Aluminum fabricating companies like Ideal Aluminum, Ameristar, etc buy these pipes and other raw materials; shapes them, screw and weld them together to give it a shape of a fence or a gate. Once the structure is ready, it is passed through these big painting booths where they are actually powder coated instead of traditional paint. Finally it is passed through a baking oven and then a cooler before it comes out and is stacked and ready to be shipped to fence whole sellers. Most of the big manufacturer’s like Ideal Aluminum provide limited lifetime warranty on their products. They are pretty good and have set the industry standard for quality aluminum fence products.
Now lets get into the details about aluminum fence pickets, rails, posts and panels. There is no industry standard or a naming convention when it comes to naming the different styles of fences. The bigger and the more famous company rules. So we will try to give dimensions instead of names or we could give both.
Aluminum Fence Tips
When you plan to buy an aluminum fence, first try and study the landscape of your property. If you have an uneven ground, then you will want to buy a fence that is rackable, or else you will end up having a stepping fence.
If the pickets on an aluminum fence panel are welded together and not screwed, then installing such a fence on an uneven ground will create a stepping effect from panel to panel. So for uneven ground, it is best to have pickets screwed to the rails and post so that they can be aligned and racked to give the fence line an even look.
The strength of the metal frame depends on the quality of the aluminum and it’s thickness. Most of the manufacturers follow some basic industry standard by grading their products into three:
The residential being the thinnest and industrial being the toughest.
Aluminum Fence Color
Although aluminum fence can be powder coated with any color, when custom ordered, but the most frequently ordered colors are, Black, White, Bronze and Hunter Green.
Aluminum Fence Size
The residential grade panels are generally 6′ wide by 5′ high with 2′ posts, .5′ pickets and 1′ rail. Where as the commercial and industrial vary a little from manufacturer to manufacturer. Usually with panels taller than 6′ and wider than 6′ and with 2.5′ posts, .5′ pickets and 1.5′ rails.
Gates and Aluminum Fence
It is possible to build all kinds of ornamental gates with aluminum. You can custom order any design gate to enhance or match the accent of your home or building. Some of the manufacturers, who fabricate aluminum gates, also build steel gates, if the need was to arise. The manufacturers usually stock or have a catalog of design to choose from. But with aluminum, you can design your own gates and have it custom ordered. Pickets and rails in a gate are usually welded together to make it more impact resistant. You definitely do not want to have a gate with pickets and rails screwed or riveted on. It must be welded.
Aluminum Gate Types
There are three main types of gates
- Single Swing
- Double Swing
- Slide Gate
- Estate Gate
Each estate gate is designed and engineered for every application. Every estate gate is fully welded with heavy framework to eliminate deflection and sagging. The manufacturers also provide walk gate to match the fence style. Walk gates usually have the same look and style as the fence itself. They might just be welded instead of screwed on or riveted. All welded frame allows for strength and durability while not compromising the look. In addition to the standard walk gates you can design your walk gate with an arched top, rings, finials, and scrolls to accent your entrance.
Wood has been used for fencing for centuries all around the world. It is the most common material used for fencing. Although wooden fences have limited life and require maintenance, yet because wood is easily available, or at least has been easily available in most parts of the world until recently, the cost of putting up a wood fence is relatively low. Plus they have a classical look and feel of country style that can’t be replaced with other types of fences.
Wood Fence Advantages
- Cost effective in short term.
- Provides full privacy if needed.
- Light and easy to install or take off.
- Cost effective in long term.
- Can be painted with any color paint.
- Wood is more versatile; it can be given any shape and is available in any size.
- Wood is biodegradable and environment friendly.
Wood Fence Disadvantages
- It has a limited life, usually between 5 to 10 yrs depending on the maintenance.
- Decomposing wood is vulnerable to fungus and dry root.
- Needs painting and maintenance on regular basis.
- When wood dries, it fades, cracks and warps.
- Drying wood contracts sags and deforms.
- Usually there is no warranty on wooden fence because of the nature of wood.
- Highest maintenance compared to any other fence.
- Vulnerable to termite infection.
Common Types of Lumber Used for Wood Fence
Pressure treated for subterranean termites – besides having pressure treated pine, it is good to coat the lumber with water repellant stain to prolong the life of wood.
Untreated spruce picket fences and cross rails are most commonly used in prefabricated 4×8- or 8×6-foot picket and stockade-fence sections that you find at your local hardware store. These are then installed between pressure-treated fence posts.
Natural chemical Cypretine – Red Cypress is an all-natural aromatic wood that is grown in the swamps of Florida. Noted for its color consistency, density, hardness and relative lack of knots, cypress is a superior wood.
Cedar and Red Wood
This is the best wood for fencing in or around your house as it is beautiful and has a longer life. But because it is high in demand, it more expensive as well.
The best and most elegant woods for fencing come from evergreen softwood containing resins that naturally repel molds, termites and other boring insects. The best known is California redwood; heartwood of this tree will last for 25 years or more without treatment.
But, being in demand for outdoor furniture, siding, decks and railings on upscale homes, redwood is expensive. Also, this wood doesn’t tend to last as long in regions outside of California. Not quite as costly, but not cheap and often hard to locate because it is sold primarily to outdoor furniture and fencing manufacturers is Western white cedar (most of it from Canada).
Aromatic red cedar, cherry and a few other resinous furniture woods would make good fences, but are better used in cedar chests and dining-room tables. Red cedar and cherry are extensively used on both the East and Pacific coast. Wood that’s good for naturally long-lived fence posts and that you might find in your own woods or at a local rough cut sawmill include black locust, the mid-western nuisance tree, the Osage orange, catalpa, red mulberry and sassafras.