With the summer months fast approaching, many business owners are considering adding or upgrading a fence to improve the security of their commercial properties and surrounding grounds. The type of weather, climate and soil composition can be a big factor in choosing the right fence. Here are a few tips from industry experts.
When selecting a wood fence, it’s important to consider the maintenance and longevity of each material. Whitewood is one of the most economical choices, but it is generally untreated. For easier maintenance, cedar and redwood are good choices because the tannins inside the wood help preserve it for many years and make it resistant to rot and decay, says Christopher Reynolds, owner and builder of Reynolds-Sebastiani Design Services, a San Francisco-based landscape company.
Use a Stain and Sealant
If you install a wood fence, it’s important to preserve it. Holly Kutcher, director of DIY retail sales at Universal Forest Products in Grand Rapids, Mich., recommends using an outdoor wood sealer that helps repels water and adds color to the wood. It’s also good to use a stain because most have some type of sealant in them. Keep in mind: Oil-based stains dry more slowly than water-based stains, but they are more durable.
While wood is strong, lightweight and a great building material for fences, it’s also prone to rot and insects. That’s why pressure-treated wood is commonly used in fences. Pressure-treated wood is injected or immersed with preservatives and placed in a high vacuum pressure chamber that forces the chemicals into the wood fibers. This process helps make the wood fence resistant to insects and decay.
Like cedar, ipe wood is resistant to rot and decay. This tropical hardwood is also prized for its durability and strength. As one of the hardest types of woods, ipe fences can last for decades, up to 40 years, with no maintenance. “It will stay weather-proofed even if it is left unfinished,” Reynolds says. To preserve the color, Reynolds suggests lightly sanding and oiling an ipe fence every one to three years, depending on climate
Vinyl fences are a great alternative to wood because they require less maintenance and last a long time. “Many vinyl fences have up to 30-year warranties for commercial properties,” says Kristin Delaney, managing partner at spendLO, a company that helps consumers find licensed service providers, in Delray Beach, Fla. Potential drawbacks: Vinyl typically costs more and the material may warp and bend in extreme heat.
Chain-link fences are some of the most durable fences out there and require little to no maintenance. Many gas stations, baseball fields and homeowners use them as an affordable way to create a border. These fences are also easy to maintain. “Just wash the chain-link fence down with a detergent and scrub brush,” Delaney says.
Highlight the Landscape
Consider wrought iron fences to beautify an area. Wrought iron fences can be expensive, but they can help with security. That’s why many apartment complexes, assisted living facilities, stadiums, airports and military bases use high-security wrought iron fences. For public-friendly areas, the iron bars must be spaced no more than 4 inches apart so children can’t stick their heads through the iron posts, says Bart Sturzl, south central regional vice president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers in Austin, Texas.
Use Steel Posts
For longer sustainability, it is crucial to install a fence correctly with the materials ideal for your climate. A wood post can be weaker in the ground than a steel post, Sturzl says. That can be a problem in places like Texas, where severe storms can grab sections of a fence, he says. For more support, he suggests using a steel post, which provides a stronger base and is more durable under extreme weather conditions.
Consider Local Laws
It’s also important to keep on top of local laws when putting up fences. “Here in Austin, we have an ordinance where you can’t have a privacy fence [between commercial properties] over 8 feet,” Sturzl says. Fencing ordinances vary in different states and cities, so take the time to learn about the local and state laws before installing a fence.
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