Friday, February 2, 2018
A few fence projects ago, the couple that I was working for was split down the middle on what material their fence ought to be made from. One was dead set upon ornamental iron, while the other was adamant that the fence should be a beautiful wooden fence. In these situations, I often stay out of the way until the dust settles! This time, I played the diplomat and suggested that they install a fence that maximized the practical and aesthetic strengths of both materials.
Bringing different materials together in a fence has been a popular trend for at least the last decade and a half, and for good reason. Many of my clients are tired of homogeneous fences, and are looking for more of a creative statement. The combination of a classically beautiful, black, galvanized steel frame with wooden infill slats creates a fence that is both sturdy and stylish. It offers versatility when it comes to the color and the look of the infill, and it ensures rot-proof fence posts. Here’s why you should consider a mixed material fence, and what type you’ll want to look for.
One of my favorite aspects of a steel fence with multiple high-quality coatings is that the posts don’t rot in the ground. The durability of a fence’s posts is an especially important consideration for any home or business owner, as removing rotten wooden fence posts can be more than a slight annoyance. While galvanized steel doesn’t rot, it can rust, which is why I always recommend installing steel fences with the highest-quality possible protective coatings. Look for galvanized and powder coated steel–with additional protective coatings if possible–and always pay attention to the manufacturer’s warranty. A warranty for fewer than five years should be a warning sign that the product you’re buying isn’t built to last.
Installing a wooden privacy fence can seem like a bit of a challenge, especially to someone doing it for the first time, however, this doesn’t have to be so. One of the difficulties with wooden fence installation is simply taking one’s time to make sure that the posts, the runners that connect the posts, and the slats that form the wall are all as square and level as can be. If the runners aren’t attached to the posts with reasonable precision, the fence may start to feel at home in a Dali painting. This work is the very essence of the old carpenter’s adage, “measure seven times, cut once.” When a metal fencing system comes with pickets and rails prefabricated in premade segments, installation is much easier.
A huge benefit to a metal frame with wooden slats is that should any of the wooden boards become weathered or damaged, it is easy to replace the boards one at a time without causing any complications to the other fence boards. In a “good neighbor” fence, the vertical slats overlap each other, making the repair of one board a task involving a few other boards as well. In a more standard privacy fence, while the boards aren’t necessarily overlapping, removing the boards with a hammer and pry bar will very often do damage to the adjacent boards. That’s why I greatly prefer a fencing system in which wooden slats are attached to a metal frame by being screwed into pre-drilled holes, making both maintenance and installation easier and less time-consuming.
There are many reasons why a metal and wood fence might be the best solution to a fencing need. One that I’ve seen a few times has to do with homeowner association restrictions. Some neighborhoods demand that fences between properties are filled-in privacy fences, while at the same time homeowners might like to have a see-through picket fence on another part of their property for aesthetic or security considerations. Metal security fences with wooden slats combine the two materials so that having one part of the fence switch to entirely metal still looks cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.
Steel security fences that are able to incorporate vertical wooden slats have allowed me to please “feuding” clients, appease neighborhood associations, and fulfill the aesthetic and practical needs of a property all at once. They make great privacy fencing for corner lots and backyards, and can even give a fence that rustic style that is so popular nowadays. While there is a big fencing product market, I haven’t found many fencing systems combining wood and metal in a way that’s both eye-catching and easy to install. One good example is the Estate Fence, produced by Fortress Fence Products. Of the systems that I am familiar with, it’s probably the easiest to install and as durable and maintenance free as anything I know of.