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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Low Maintenance Fence Options Focusing on Versatility

I’ve had some clients pay me to do various maintenance tasks on their wooden fences several times a year, every year, paying me thousands of dollars to do the same task over and over again. Many contractors might welcome a seemingly never-ending supply of work, but I like to work myself out of job—and make my clients happy—by installing fencing that is as maintenance free as possible. Ultimately, installing high-quality fences made of low maintenance materials resulted in a tidal wave of referrals that gave me more work than I could handle on my own.

One of those low maintenance fence types, which I’ve come to use more and more often, is a mixed material security fence with a frame made of galvanized steel, with wood (or composite) slats between the fence’s steel pickets. The combination of two materials makes this fence unique looking, and combines the beauty of wood with the durability of steel.

Maintenance Issues with Wooden Security Fences

As you might know if you own any outdoor structure made of wood, properly maintaining that wood requires a slate of regular tasks, including sealing, staining, power washing, and sanding. Some of these should ideally be performed once a year and some every other year or so, depending on the climate.

In addition to this maintenance, wood fences need to be checked up on to make sure that the bottoms of the boards aren’t coming into contact with soil or moisture, and to replace any which may have cracked or rotted out. And in rainy climates, extra care has to be taken to keep the horizontal rails from rotting, as well. I’ve found this to be an especially common problem in areas like the Pacific Northwest. Not only do the rails in these humid regions tend to rot, but the joints between the rails and the posts are also prone to deteriorating.

Finally, replacing the posts—something every wooden fence owner knows about—can be a time-consuming task, especially if the posts were installed in concrete footings that need to be removed and repoured. All this can make a wooden fence exhausting to own. So what about steel? It’s much more durable, but it has some issues, too, as we’ll see.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel Fencing

Using galvanized steel for the posts, rails, and the pickets of a fence can mitigate the maintenance required with wood. Of course, steel has problems of its own, namely rust. It’s also far cheaper to replace a few wooden boards, rails, or posts than to replace large portions of a metal fence simply because a few strategic places have rusted out.

But, because the galvanization and powder coating processes are so important to the durability of a steel fence, there’s a big difference in performance between high- and low-quality steel fencing. Some manufacturers are using processes that combine thick zinc galvanization with an additional UV-inhibiting zinc powder coating and an e-coating on top, to form an extremely effective shield from the elements. This means that no matter how rainy or sunny a climate your client lives in, their fence will be protected from rust, corrosion, and fading.

The Benefits of a Mixed Material Security Fence 

A uniquely appealing hybrid adds the beauty of wood to the elegance of metal by inserting wooden or composite slats between the vertical metal pickets. It works as both a security and a privacy fence, and is also a flexible system, which means that with the wooden or composite infill it can serve as a privacy fence in between houses, and without the infill it becomes an open security fence, providing visibility when needed for safety or aesthetic considerations.

If your client chooses to use a wooden infill for this fencing system, the wooden pickets may occasionally need replacing, but this is an extremely easy process that doesn’t require disturbing any other boards or other parts of the fence. Each of the slots for the boards and the holes into which they are attached are uniform, cutting down considerably on measuring time. Installing or replacing boards merely requires making a good template. If a board isn’t too damaged, one can even use the previous board as a template for its replacement. In that sense, this type of mixed material fencing system very nearly maintains itself.

Maintaining a wooden fence can range from being a small hassle to a huge pain, depending on the climate, the wood used, and how the fence was installed. If a client’s fence is turning out to be more than just a minor nuisance, I advise them to replace it with a low maintenance mixed material fence made by a manufacturer committed to quality and longevity, like the Estate Ornamental fencing from Fortress Building Products.

Fortress’ steel fence frame is designed with a special coating that makes it extremely resistant to rust, and the wooden or composite infill simply screws in for easy installation or replacement. I really think it is one of the most attractive and durable fences of its type on the market. That’s not surprising, because Fortress consistently turns out unique, aesthetically-pleasing products. And if you’re looking for elegant decking, railing, or decorative hardware, you can find their wider range of products at Fortress Building Products.







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