Friday, March 30, 2018
A couple I know is famous in my circle of friends for the parties they throw. They’re genial folks, and the parties at their house are low key and still manage to be a lot of fun. Recently, though, the ancient, mostly broken-down wooden privacy fence in their backyard has caused an unusual problem during these parties. New neighbors have rented the house to the rear and have begun inviting themselves over. This wouldn’t be a problem, but these neighbors don’t seem to understand hints at the end of the night that the party might be over.
As a result, my friends have developed a new interest in building a privacy fence, preferably a high one. Given the way multiple recent storms have knocked fences down across the region, they’d like the new privacy fence to be as close to hurricane proof fencing as possible. They don’t want to install a new fence every few years and they would like the fence to be something simple to set up that they can install themselves. Fortunately, steel privacy fence panels fulfill both needs. The steel frame is strong enough to survive severe weather, and the modular fence panels are straightforward to put together for any DIYer with basic skills.
To build a backyard privacy fence in the traditional way you’d need to cut and fit the fence pieces together yourself, which is a time-consuming process that requires specialized skills. Modular fence panels, by comparison, use standardized parts and all the installer needs to install a professional-looking fence are some basic skills like the ability to use a tape measure and a screwdriver. Modular privacy fencing panels are available in a variety of materials:
Wood is the traditional material of privacy fencing, but it has issues particularly with rotted fence posts which then need to be dug out and replaced. Regular maintenance in the form of staining and painting can increase the longevity of a wood fence’s pickets, but since this doesn’t affect the parts of the post below ground, even a well-maintained wood fence can fall over.
Vinyl was adopted in large part to overcome wood’s shortcomings. It doesn’t rot, even the parts that are beneath the soil, and never requires painting, staining, or sealing.
Based on the information above, vinyl fences would seem to be the obvious choice. However, vinyl fences are actually flimsy and are easy to damage accidentally. For a long time, those looking for a reliably sturdy fence that doesn’t require much maintenance have turned to steel fencing. However, these fences have typically been made in the open rail-and-picket style, with widely-spaced black steel pickets that do a good job of providing security but are less effective at giving privacy. Recently, though, some fencing manufacturers have created hybrid fences that combine steel and wood for strength and privacy.
There are a couple of different types of mixed material fences. One common one, strangely enough, uses wooden posts and a metal infill for privacy. The disadvantages of this arrangement should be clear. The wooden posts are still vulnerable to rotting, especially beneath the ground, and high wind can snap them off at the ground level, leaving sections of fence lying in the yard instead of surrounding it. The sheet metal used for the infill, while strong, can also come free when the wooden rails are weakened by rot or age. In a windstorm, this creates the potential for flying sheets of metal that pick up the wind and act like sails.
On the other hand, some wooden privacy fences are supported by metal posts. These are very similar to basic wood privacy fences, except that the metal posts mean homeowners are able to get away with digging fewer holes to replace rotted wooden posts. But this system still has issues. The fence’s horizontal wood rails will weaken over time, requiring the replacement of sections of fence.
A much better type of hybrid fence uses steel for the posts and rails. Steel is stronger than wood and this arrangement has the bonus of keeping the structure of the fence immune from the decay that plagues wood. It’s the only way to create a fence that will continue to stand up to extreme weather year after year.
Going even further, there is at least one fence on the market that uses steel posts, rails, and narrow pickets that are designed to hold wood (or composite) infills between the pickets. This system ensures that all of the crucial components of the fence are steel so that the fence lasts for years without maintenance. Each wood or composite picket is also attached individually to the fence, meaning that it’s simple to remove and replace any picket that needs attention. The only big drawback to this steel frame is that it does have the potential to rust if not properly treated. For a truly long-lasting, nearly weatherproof fence, it’s important to look for a product which is fully welded and in which the steel has a high-quality coating to resist rust.
One quality fence of this kind is the Estate Fence from Fortress Fence Products. This hybrid wood and steel fence combines fully welded steel pickets with multiple coatings (a zinc pre-coat, e-coat, and powder coat) for superior rust resistance with a choice of wood or composite infills for privacy. It’s a strong, sturdy, and upscale privacy fence for discerning homeowners and it’s also modular, so my friends and I can install it ourselves. Contact Fortress Fence, or find an installer near you to learn more.