Author: WP Dev

Should You Repair or Replace Your Fence?

interspersed wooden fence

A well-maintained wooden fence is an excellent addition to any home. It gives your yard the privacy and security to protect your property, and a traditional wood fence can also make your home more attractive. Other types of fences—for instance, vinyl and aluminum—also have looks that can make your home stand out for a unique style or fit in if you want your home to match your neighbors. A fence is not just practical; it is a reflection of your style and personality. But to keep it looking its best, you may eventually to to repair or replace your fence.

When a good fence starts to wear down, it can become an eyesore instead of an asset. Also, a worn-down fence may draw the attention of your homeowners association. Many HOAs require fences to stay in good condition since a rotting fence can make the whole neighborhood look run-down. So if your fence is beginning to show its age, you have two options: you can repair or replace your fence. Knowing which option to choose requires a close inspection of your fence, evaluation of the damage, and a decision on how much you want to invest in your fence’s future.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Fence [infographic]

Inspecting the Damage

The first step in deciding whether to repair or replace your fence is to make an honest and thorough assessment of the damage. Knowing the condition of your fence is the only way to get an accurate estimate of the labor and costs involved in repairing it. The type and extent of repairs you can make depend on the type of fence you have, so let’s take a look at some common fencing materials to see what sorts of repairs each one may require.

Wood Fences

Wood fences are the most common type of residential fence. They have become a hallmark of suburban living, and not without good reason. A wood fence is cost-effective, good-looking, and provides ample privacy and security. It can keep children and pets in, and unwanted guests and prying eyes out.

Unfortunately, wood fences are also the most prone to damage from regular wear and tear. Over time, the sun, wind, and rain age the wood, and your fence will start to deteriorate. How much and how fast a wood fence degrades depends a lot on the type of wood. An inexpensive spruce fence may last only 4 to 7 years. A pine fence lasts longer, about 5 to 12 years. Cedar is more expensive and more durable, lasting anywhere from 15 to 30 years, based on weather conditions and maintenance. A fence made of treated lumber can last 20 years or more, so it’s not surprising that treated lumber is also one of the most common wood fence materials.

How to Spot Damage to a Wood Fence

The first signs of damage you many notice to a wood fence are cracks and holes. These can usually be repaired with a little wood putty, but you’ll need to paint over the repairs if you want the whole fence to match. If you’ve left your wood its natural color, discoloration is another early warning sign of decay. If part of your fence is turning yellow or gray, the wood is deteriorating, and you may need to replace either the affected pickets or the whole panel. The most significant type of damage to a wood fence is rot at the base of the posts. The posts hold up your fence, but over time, even a well-maintained fence will start to show wear at the bottom of the posts.

Posts can wear out more quickly in humid or rainy climates and on properties without adequate drainage. Rot and shifting soil can cause wood posts to lean, warping the entire fence. Posts are usually installed in a cement footing, so replacing a damaged post requires digging out the entire footing. But if only a post or two is leaning, you may be able to repair the posts instead of replacing your entire fence.

To inspect your wood fence, start at the posts and inspect them from the base up. Look for signs of rot or insect damage close to the ground, and follow the post upward, looking for cracks or leaning. Next, inspect the pickets, looking for cracks, holes, and discoloration. Inspect the entire fence, and tally up how many posts and pickets are damaged.

Aluminum Fences

Aluminum fences can last a long time if they are appropriately maintained. But proper maintenance can be expensive. To keep an aluminum fence from prematurely aging, it needs to be inspected annually for bubbling paint or rust. Any rust or bubbling paint needs to be sanded down and repainted to protect the aluminum from further damage. An aluminum fence maintained this way can last for decades. However, there are other types of damage to aluminum fences that can’t be solved with responsible maintenance.

One of the most common problems we see with older aluminum fences has nothing to do with the fence itself. Instead, the problem is with the ground beneath the fence. Over years and decades, soil can settle and shift. As the ground below shifts, the posts can be pulled out of position, putting a strain on the rest of the fence. Aluminum has very little give, and a shift of just a couple of inches can warp railings or cause cracking at the joints. Since aluminum fences are often welded in place, repairing a warped fence can be a laborious process that requires a professional builder.

Aluminum fences are also susceptible to damage from accidents, such as falling trees or being hit by a vehicle. A strong impact can dent or bend an aluminum fence, and there is really no way to un-dent the metal. A section of fence that gets bent out of shape must be removed and replaced by a qualified professional.

Vinyl Fences

If you want to build your fence and then forget about it, vinyl is your best friend. A vinyl fence is basically plastic. Its color is built-in, so there is no paint to crack, peel, or fade, and it is impervious to water and insects. The only maintenance it requires is an occasional wash with a garden hose or power washer to remove built-up dirt and grime.

Rot and water damage are not issues for vinyl. Instead, the most common problems with vinyl fences are degradation from the UV rays in sunlight, and warping due to shifting soil. Vinyl has some amount of give and flexibility, but sunlight can make a fence more brittle and prone to cracking over time. A vinyl fence doesn’t rot, so the most common damage you’ll find is cracking panels. Vinyl fencing almost always comes as complete panels, so repairing cracks usually means removing and replacing the damaged panel. Luckily, vinyl is relatively inexpensive, and replacing a vinyl panel is much less expensive than replacing a section of aluminum fence.

How to Decide If It’s Time to Repair or Replace Your Fence

The main factors that help determine if you should repair or replace your fence are cost and longevity. Obviously, if it is more expensive to repair than replace your fence, you should opt for replacement. But even if the repairs may be less costly in the short-term, there are times when replacement is still a better option. If a fence is nearing the end of its expected lifetime, repairing it a little at a time may not be worth it. You can make a small repair today, but you are likely to need more repairs soon, and the repairs will only continue to add up. So if your fence is nearing the top end of its expected lifespan, it may be worth replacing it before you get caught in an endless cycle of minor repairs.

The 20% Rule

Most fencing professionals agree that a good rule of thumb is to replace a fence when more than 20% of the fence requires repairs. The fence material and style will determine how much of the fencing needs to be repaired. For instance, a wood fence may only need repairs to a few pickets at a time, whereas a vinyl fence requires replacing entire panels. Take a look at what needs repair and add up the damage. If more than 20% of your fence needs work, you’re probably due for a new fence.

This rule may be a little different for some materials. For instance, an aluminum fence can be expensive to repair, but it is also expensive to install a new fence. The 20% rule should be applied in combination with a cost comparison. If a replacement is significantly more expensive than repairs, even if 20% of your fence is damaged, you may want to try to keep your current fence. Ultimately, the best way to determine if you should repair or replace your fence is to get an estimate from a professional. If you think it might be time to replace your fence, contact Bravo Fence for an estimate. We’ll let you know the cost of a new fence and whether we recommend that you repair or replace your fence.

Why You Should Choose an Aluminum Ornamental Fence

metal fence

When homeowners consider a new fence, many can only imagine a classic wood privacy fence. If you want something a little more decorative and traditional, some homeowners consider a white picket fence. But many fail to recognize one of the most classic and decorative of all styles, the aluminum ornamental fence.

What Is an Ornamental Fence?

Ornamental fences have been in use for centuries, and you’ve likely seen them in many places. The most common ornamental fence is a black metal fence made of thin pickets spaced about a foot apart. The pickets often have decorative finials such as spears or flowers that look good and also make it more difficult to climb over the fence. Fancier fences may include scrolling and other designs between the pickets. You can often find these classic ornamental fences in older neighborhoods both in the US and Europe.

Traditionally, ornamental fences were made of wrought iron. Wrought iron is a very pure form of iron that has been worked by hand—wrought just means worked. A blacksmith heats the iron until it glows red hot, then hammers it to shape it and remove any traces of carbon. The more the iron is hammered, the more carbon is removed, and the more malleable it becomes. Wrought iron is incredibly strong, and many wrought iron fences have been in place for centuries. For example, much of the wrought iron fencing in New Orleans’ French Quarter dates from the 1700s. Wrought iron is also so strong that it was used to construct the Eiffel Tower!

One significant drawback of wrought iron for residential use is its high cost. Because it is so labor-intensive to produce, wrought iron is the most expensive fencing material by far. So although many homeowners adore the look of wrought iron, the price tag is too high to be practical.

Aluminum ornamental fencing was introduced in the US by Jerith Mfg Co over 50 years ago. Today, it has become the ornamental fencing of choice for most homeowners.

Why You Should Choose an Aluminum Ornamental Fence [infographic]

The Advantages of Aluminum Ornamental Fencing

The most significant advantage of aluminum over wrought iron decorative fencing is the price. Aluminum is the most economical ornamental fence, at as little as half the price of wrought iron. Steel fence, another ornamental fence option, is a little more expensive, but still less than wrought iron.

Absolute Elegance

One reason why many homeowners choose an aluminum ornamental fence is for its absolute elegance. Ornamental fencing has a classic look and can be dressed up with a wide variety of finials and decorative scrolls. One benefit of ornamental fencing is the way it adds to your curb appeal and home value. Ornamental fencing stands out as the first thing visitor and potential homebuyers see when they arrive at your home. It makes a first impression of elegance and beauty unlike any other type of fence.

Ornamental fencing isn’t just for classical homes. While highly-decorated ornamental fencing can be found around many classic buildings, aluminum ornamental fencing is available in a wide variety of styles. From highly ornate classical styles to sleek, clean, modern designs, ornamental fencing can adapt to improve any home.

Ornamental fences can also compliment your home in a way that a privacy fence cannot. Because you can see right through most ornamental fences, the fence won’t block your landscaping and the facade of your home. So if you want to show off all the hard work you have put into your home, an ornamental fence provides security without blocking the view.

Added Security

In addition to beautifying your home, an aluminum ornamental fence protects it. While aluminum is not as strong as wrought iron, it is much stronger than wood, while still allowing a view into and out of your property. Ornamental fences come in four standard sizes: 3-foot, 4-foot, 5-foot, and 6-foot. The shorter 3-foot fences are used either as decorative features in gardens and along walkways or to create a taller fence on top of masonry walls. 4-foot and 5-foot fences are popular for residences, including for pool security fences. A 6-foot fence provides the most security, as it is very difficult to climb over. In most cases, just the appearance of a 6-foot ornamental fence is enough to scare off potential intruders.

If you’re looking for even more security, you can opt for thicker pickets that are harder to bend or cut through. One feature that is usually reserved for commercial fences is pickets that curve outward toward the top, making it harder to scale the fence.

If you have pets that you need to contain, a 5-foot fence is too tall for most dogs to jump over. If you have smaller pets or children who might be able to slip between the pickets, you can use mesh to increase the security of your fence.

Low Maintenance

One of the most significant advantages of an aluminum ornamental fence is the low maintenance requirements. Wrought iron and steel both have one major weakness: rust. While paint and coatings can help protect iron and steel, some rust is inevitable. To keep an iron or steel fence in good condition, it must be monitored for rust and bubbling paint. And about once a year, you need to sand and repaint any rust spots.

Aluminum, by definition, cannot rust. That’s because rust is defined as the oxidation of iron, and aluminum has almost no iron in it. Aluminum can, at least in theory, corrode, which would be a similar chemical process to rust, minus the iron. However, when aluminum corrodes, it creates a chalky powder that actually protects it from further corrosion.

To make the material even more resilient, aluminum ornamental fences are treated with a powder coating that protects them from corrosion. Unlike paint, which can crack and bubble, a powder coating is completely bonded with the metal. For a powder coating, a dry powder containing pigments, polymer resins, curatives, and other additives is applied to the surface of the aluminum in a process called electrostatic spray deposition. When the aluminum is put in a curing oven, the powder transforms into a smooth, hard coating. A powder-treated aluminum fence needs almost no maintenance and is almost completely impervious to corrosion.

An Environmentally Friendly Option

Besides all of its useful qualities, aluminum ornamental fencing is also one of the most environmentally-friendly fence materials. Aluminum is highly recyclable since it does not degrade when melted down and used to create something new. Aluminum can be recycled many times over without losing any of its qualities. In fact, your aluminum fence is most likely made from recycled scrap. In the fencing industry, the standard is to use at least 70% recycled material to make new aluminum fencing. And when your fence is eventually taken down, it will most likely be scrapped and used again for something new.

Ornamental Aluminum Fences from Bravo Fence Company

Bravo Fence Company has been installing custom aluminum ornamental fences for over a decade, with hundreds of satisfied customers. Our skilled team is made up of builders and installers with decades of experience who can make your ornamental fence dreams come true. Whether you want a traditional wrought iron-look fence, or something modern and sleek, we can create an aluminum ornamental fence to meet your style and functional goals. Contact us today for your free estimate.

Building a Fence on Uneven Ground

part of the yard

Very few yards are completely flat, and different parts of the country have more and less even ground. But here in Georgia, flat expanses are the exception, and the Atlanta Metro Area is known for its hilly topography. Building a fence on uneven ground poses a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Bravo Fence can build beautiful fences on slopes and undulating ground, even if it takes a little more work. We have over 15 years of experience building fences all around Georgia, on flat ground, undulating landscapes, and steep slopes.

The Challenges of Building a Fence on Uneven Ground

When the ground is just a little bit bumpy, it’s only a minor task to even things out enough to build a level fence. But with truly uneven ground—ground that dips or slopes—regular fencing becomes problematic. On flat ground, a fence consists of three parts. Vertical posts, driven deep into the ground, support the rails. Horizontal rails that run between the posts, and in most styles of fence, they hold pickets. Vertical pickets or boards are attached to the rails to give the fence its appearance, either with openings or sealed off for a privacy fence.

When the ground is sloped, there is a problem with this basic structure. The posts end up at different elevations, and they cannot be connected with level rails and pickets. There are three ways of fixing this problem, each with its own challenges.

Building a Fence on Uneven Ground [infographic]

 

Level-Topped Fence

If your ground doesn’t slope but instead undulated with dips and rises, you may be able to install a level-topped fence. This is just a fancy name for the same sort of fence you would install on flat ground, with a top that is level all the way across. If your land doesn’t slope but suffers from uneven areas where it dips, you can build a level-topped fence with a little landscaping. Start by filling in the low spots with a bit of soil and grass seed. For larger dips, you may need to fill in with rocks and gravel with dirt on top. Another alternative is to plant bushes and plants along the base of the fence to hide irregularities.

Stepped Fencing

If you have a steep slope to contend with, stepped fencing may be your best option. With stepped fencing, each panel (the space between posts) is a step up from the one before. While it doesn’t provide the smooth, even lines of a regular fence, it can accommodate steep slopes without installing an excessively slanted fence line.

The significant drawback of stepped fencing is that it leaves a triangular open space between each panel and the sloping ground below. If you have pets or small children—a common reason for installing a fence—that may be unacceptable. So if you need a fully-enclosed fence, you can combine stepped fencing with additional landscaping and fill in the spaces with new soil and grass seed. If the spaces are small enough, they can also be blocked with planters or thick bushes.

Racking Fences

Stacking fences are a relatively new technology that first appeared around two decades ago and has grown in popularity since then. Stacking fences are prefabricated fencing panels in which the pickets are attached to the rails with hinges. The posts are placed at different levels, as dictated by the sloping ground, and the rails between them follow the angle of the slope. The hinged pickets remain upright and follow the slope of the rails. For slight to moderate grades, racking fences provide a quick solution and a custom look without all the meticulous calculations and labor-intensive installation of a genuinely custom fence.

The primary disadvantage of racking fences is that as the grade of the slope increases, the pickets will be closer together. This can give an uneven appearance, and most manufacturers recommend a slope of 10º or less. Some specialty racking fences are available for steeper grades, but in general, steep grades require custom fencing for a smooth, level top.

Custom Fencing

When your yard includes steep slopes, undulating terrain, and other challenging building surfaces, custom fencing is the best, and sometimes the only, solution. Bravo Fence Company has been building fences for over 15 years, and many of our technicians have been building fences even longer than that. We have the experience and skills to achieve a beautiful, smooth-looking fence on even the most challenging terrain.

Custom fencing is cut and built on-site to match your yard’s specific needs, whether it includes hills, dips, or valleys. We provide wood, aluminum, steel, chain link, and vinyl fencing in a wide variety of styles. Whether you want a sleek wooden privacy fence, an ornate steel fence, or traditional white pickets, we have you covered, whatever your yard looks like. Contact us today for your free quote.