Most homeowners in America have to put in some kind of fencing on their property at some time, whether they have an old home or a new one, live in rural settings or urban. Fencing is needed for a number of reasons depending on the property on the home owners needs. Privacy is a top reason for having it but other reasons include landscape appeal, safety, to keep pets in, to keep children in! But as there are a number of reasons you might want fencing there are also a number of materials to choose for the fencing to be made of. Popular options are iron, wood, aluminum and vinyl. Each one has its own pros and cons and its own selection of grades and styles. So here is a look at what each has to offer to help you in choosing the right fencing and then how to get a good contractor to put it in for you!
Why You Need Fencing
- Privacy – Provide the home owner with privacy and seclusion in either the front or back yard. They reach a height between 6 to 8 feet and are common in urban and suburban homes.
- Rail – Common in rural areas used mainly for animal containment. They are made up of boards or split rails, either round or square with posts linking them. They have the benefit of you still having the view beyond the fence. Mesh wire is often used to stop small animals getting out or in.
- Picket – The American fence if you believe in the dream of the house and the family with the white picket fence. At 3 to 4 feet they are shorter than privacy fences so are more for enclosing the yard than giving privacy. You can get arched, French gothic, scalloped, standard flat top, dog eared and gothic styles.
5 Main Types of Fencing
PVC fencing has its advantages but is one of the most expensive options on the market. However it is a popular choice because it lasts for a long time and has no need for maintenance from you the home owner. You can get several styles including ranch, privacy, picket and pool but there is a limit in colors that are available.
An ornamental fence that is like iron fencing but gives better durability and requires little to no need for maintenance. There is an option to have a hybrid fence that has steel and aluminum or just aluminum. They improve on iron fencing by avoiding welding that are prone to rust and instead using post to rail connectors that are brackets. They are coated to make them last the elements longer and you can get a small range of colors the most commonly used being bronze, black, green and white.
As with chain link fencing they come in different rail, post and picket sizes which is what decides how strong the fence is, so if the picket is bigger, the fence is stronger. Aluminum beats iron too in cost as it is cheaper as they are easier to put in. On the scale of fence costs it comes between vinyl and wood.
The common woods used for fencing are redwood, cedar, pine and cypress but others are used too and it changes according to where you live. The types of fencing you can get made from wood are rail, privacy and picket.
Functional and attractive it is used on commercial and residential land and is also called ornamental fencing. Back when it was first created they used wrought iron but nowadays modern iron fences also have aluminum or steel incorporated into them, the former being more common in residential use and the latter in commercial and industrial. You can have iron fences with pickets under the top rail or over it and it offers security keeping intruders out and loved ones in.
These are used in commercial and residential settings and last for years used for privacy and security purposes. Most look silver in appearance but you can actually get a range of colors and types. The silver color comes from the coating of galvanized zinc they get to stop them rusting. There are a range of post sizes and gauges you can get, and usually the smaller the gauge number the stronger the fence is. Also the wider the post the stringer that is, which is why you will usually find wide posts at the corners and smaller ones in the runs.
Choosing the Right Fencing Contractor
Here are some things to consider to ensure you get a contractor that best suits you and know what he is doing.
1) Is there a physical place of business?
If you want someone who has experience and are professionals you may want to look for ones that have a physical place of business. While it does not necessarily have to be separate from his him, you need to know he is not giving out a post office box as his address or working out of his van. Research the options you have, knowing your contractor is as important as the choices you make in your fencing. You can also use the Better Business Bureau to get a report on any potential contractors you are exploring.
2) Does he do the work himself with employees or subcontract out?
If you have the option the preferred one would be to choose a contractor who either does the work himself or has employees who do the work rather than going with one who subcontracts the work. This is because there is more accountability with the former option and they have more control over things like days working, times arriving, deliveries and so on. If there is a subcontract some of that will be up in the air as it depends on other factors and there is less control.
3) How long has the business been running for?
New businesses have less experience and can offer fewer references. Also they are still trying to make it and financially may be less stable. More years in the business means more experience and less chance of them going out of business mid job.
4) Do they have the right knowledge?
There are a lot of jack of all trades types out there and while that may be fine for some jobs, there are times when you want a professional installer who has experience and knows the product and specializes in fence installation.
5) If you ask for references do you get any?
If wanting references cause him to look worried that is a sure sign to move on to someone else. You should be able to get references of other customers, talk to them about the contractor and even view past fencing work.
6) Is there a written guarantee to back up the work?
Residential customers should be able to get a one year written warranty on labor from professional fence contractors.
7) Do they ask for money up front?
This is a warning sign as no contractor worth his salt should want all the money up front. Most will suggest half now and half on completion though some will ask for 30% when the posts are set and then the balance to be paid on completion. Make sure you are happy with the payment schedule before they start working!
8) Is the contractor insured, bonded and licensed?
Most cities offer license to professionals which is basically a permit for them to work in their trade in that area. To get that license he has to sign paperwork and pay fees. Reputable installers will have a license and are unlikely to have outstanding violations. You also want them to have the right insurance in case anything happens to the workers while they work on your property. You also need to be sure they know the codes and regulations for fencing where you live.
9) Look for someone with a work ethic that suits you.
If you have certain expectations about things like times, deliveries and so on then ask about the details to see if you like the answers. Some installations can happen same day and some cannot, so make sure you get an explanation of what is going to happen and why.
10) Is setting the posts going to be done with concrete?
If it is, then you need to know long that will take to set before they can come back to carry on and finish the fencing. Most posts use concrete footers apart from those that are mounted between pillars. See if the method being chosen for your fencing makes sense and the system is going to be installed correctly. Concrete footers are preferred because they hold up longer.