I love my small backyard with its hardy trees and pretty flowerbeds that invite lots of birds and butterflies to see, but mowing the grass? Not so much. However, I do love the awareness of being in my own small universe that comes from having a privacy fence.
The principal purpose for any fence is a practical one: to designate the perimeter of your property. But a fence may also make your yard feel like an extension of your dwelling. It can supply a safe area for pets and kids to play, for friends and family to gather for special occasions and for showing off your landscaping and gardening attempts.
“The first problem consumers need to contemplate is the reason they would like to install a fence,” said Santo Pernicano, president of the American Fence Association (AFA) and a Certified Fence Professional (CFP) and owner of SLP Development, Inc. in Tuttle, Okla. “Figuring out the reason behind the fence results in the next question: How much are you willing to spend on it? Costs to put up a fence can vary, depending on how much place needs to be enclosed and the materials to be used, among other things.”
Fortunately, homeowners can choose from a wide variety of materials that best fit property, their budget and lifestyle. (One caveat, though: If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners organization, make sure to check with your HOA’s rules regarding installing, replacing or fixing a fence for any special actions or requirements on your part.)
Wood fences appear to be everywhere these days. They are relatively inexpensive to install (determined by the kind of wood) and bring a warm and traditional esthetic to your house and neighborhood. Wooden privacy fences are a popular option, especially in newer neighborhoods, but other fashion options comprise the post and rail fence, the classic picket fence or, for larger properties.
Among the popular types of wood is Southern yellow pine. It’s budget friendly, strong and, when pressure treated, has greater resistance to pests and rot. Another popular choice is Western red cedar, which has a greater natural resistance to rot and insects, but also comes pressure. Other popular wood choices include redwood, spruce and fir. Cost and the availability of the different kinds of wood may vary depending on where you live.
Ways you’ll be able to keep your investment include treating the wood with a moisture sealant to help prevent rot or warping. You can also add a stain to either highlight the natural finish of your fence or to give the finish a different appearance. Stains can add to the longevity of your fence, but you may need to reapply the stain after two or three years, determined by the merchandise you select and how your fence weathers. You can even find products that combine both a sealant and stain.
Fence post care is also a key to the longevity of your fence. Wood rot can influence posts at the foot, causing them to warp, split or pull away from the fence. Powerful posts, properly installed, can help keep your fence standing tall — especially during strong winds.
You’ve plenty of options if you decide to go with an alternative fencing material. Vinyl or PVC is a popular option for durability and its versatility. Vinyl fencing comes in an assortment of designs and colours, from the timeless white picket fence to privacy fences that look just like the wood variation.
Ornamental aluminum and steel fencing offer homeowners an elegant, classic look perfect for showcasing beautiful landscaping. Steel fencing and aluminum are incredibly durable and resistant. And compared with conventional wrought-iron fencing, aluminum and steel are considerably more cost-effective while providing the same appearance as wrought iron.
Chain link fencing remains a popular option with many homeowners because it’s affordable and long lasting. While it mightn’t have the same stylistic allure as a vinyl, wooden or ornamental fence, chain link fencing is making strides in the looks department. Home owners who might not be so keen on its standard gray color is now able to get chain link fence in color-coated finishes that complement another present fence material, like ornamental aluminum or can combine with a landscape.
If you have the know how to handle a fence setup all on your own, then you are probably prepared to head to your favorite home improvement store for stuff. But there are several matters that you should think about before you head out the door. Be certain you understand where your real property line is, if you are not replacing an existing fence, and be sure you contact your local utility sections to mark any subway lines, so you don’t accidentally cut on them when digging holes for your fence posts.
You also ought to check with your city for licenses that need to be filed or any zoning code restrictions. And do not forget to double check fence positioning and your property measurements before ordering your materials.
For those folks who’ve no delusions about trying a DIY setup, it is time to start searching for a contractor. As with any home improvement project, it’s important when hiring a contractor to do your homework. The AFA recommends that consumers request contractors for merchandise samples, a certificate of insurance, a written contract and references. The AFA offers “Find a Contractor” and “Request a Quote” tools to help find AFA-member contractors within their area.
The AFA also offers certification programs for fence professionals, so home owners may also look for contractors that are Certified Fence Professionals (CFP), Certified Installers (CI) or Blue Ribbon Contractors.
Whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, by installing a new fence, you are adding value to your new house and creating an inviting outdoor living space for family and friends to enjoy for a long time.