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The term “American Made” seems to be everywhere!  Especially with the down economy, and Americans making a larger effort to purchase goods labeled “American Made”.  Every effort helps in putting our men and women back to work.  Unfortunately, savvy advertisers know this, and use the term “American Made” in every possible way to lure potential customers in.

For example in the past, there has been a serious problem with steel, aluminum and vinyl products that were being imported fromChina.  Poor quality Chinese imports were and in some cases still are hitting our shores in mass quantities, and at seriously low prices.  These efforts from importers caused a lot of job loss for our Americans as they struggled to compete with low priced and poor quality products showing up on shores.  To complicate matters even more, many American manufacturers were actually importing Chinese products, assembling that material in the states and slapping an “American Made” sticker on it.

At the end of December, American workers in the aluminum industry received a gift so to speak from the Department of Commerce.  The Department of Commerce finally ruled that all aluminum posts, fence panels, and gates imported fromChinasince August of 2010 are subject to the antidumping and countervailing duties that were imposed on aluminum extrusions imported from the People’s Republic ofChina.

So what does this mean for importers of Chinese aluminum extrusions and fence? Many of these suppliers will be faced with bankruptcy as the government collects the duties on imports going back to August of 2010. The total duty comes to about 380 percent of the cost of the material, so a $50,000 container of Chinese aluminum will have a $190,000 duty placed on it.  That is a lot of cash to come up with! No doubt there will be importers that will reopen under another name, and use other countries likeVietnam,MexicoorIndiato produce their low quality fence or other extrusions. One can only hope that some of these manufacturers will do the right thing, and return to producing their products domestically.

Will this raise prices?  So far we have not seen a price increase in our aluminum fences, gates or railings.  However, we have always used domestically manufactured products.  What we have noticed from our manufacturers is an increase in their staff to handle the higher demand for their American Made aluminum products.  What a great response!  On the opposite note, companies that dealt in imported aluminum have had to increase the price in their products – of course.  Additionally, those manufacturers that still choose to produce products outside of theUSare currently incurring additional expenses in starting up a production facility in a new country. Not to mention the inevitable problems they are experiencing with quality and service, which was never a strongpoint of the importers to begin with.

What does all of this mean for American consumers? It makes your decision much easier! The odds of you being conned into a thin aluminum fence or rail that will fail you in a short period of time will become less and less as this year continues on!  As always, you are your best advocate – always make sure that you’ve confirmed that your contractor is selling you an American Made aluminum, steel or vinyl product.  Don’t just take their word for it.  They should be able to prove that it’s assembled inAmericafrom an American manufactured product.  Not only are you protecting yourself from purchasing a poorly made product that will certainly fail you – you are contributing to rebuilding the American economy.

Want to know more about the American Manufacturers that are sold and installed by Elyria Fence?  Take a look at our site at www.elyriafence.com or stop by our showroom, and see them in person!  For the past 80 years we’ve been proud to install American products, and be a direct contributor to keeping Americans working!

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Should my posts be set in concrete?

A question presented to us on a fairly regular basis!  Whether your fence, trellis, pergola or deck will be installed by a professional company, or it’s a DIY weekend project – the answer to this is a resounding yes.  Without a properly set concrete footer on every post the fence will eventually sag and fail structurally.  The only exception to this rule is if you’re installing a split rail fence or a pasture fence which is installed on t-posts.  If this is the case, you will need to tamp your posts into the ground.  In terms of setting a strong footer for your posts – it’s not as simple, though, as digging a hole and throwing in some concrete.  Adjustments and plans need to be made for the temperature outside, your location and sighting up your line.    If you’re only tackling a couple of posts – you can purchase a post hole digger for manual use.  If you are doing your entire backyard, it might be best to rent some equipment for the job.  You will also want to call the Ohio Utilities Protection Service to have your underground marked.  You need to provide them with 48 hours notice before you dig.

 

Our company is located in theCleveland,Ohioarea.  For the most part,Northern Ohioexperiences some pretty extreme weather conditions.  You will need to dig your hole so that it is below the freeze line.  InNorthern Ohiothat is 30” deep, however, depending on the city you live in they may require you to go 36” deep.  Certain cities also have footer inspections.  If you’re doing this yourself – you’ll need to arrange that footer inspection with your city.  If you have hired a contractor – you should expect your contractor to make those arrangements. 

 

Some common advice that seems to circulate the internet a lot is that it’s necessary to put gravel in the bottom of your hole.  We can not speak for every state, but we can tell you that inNorthern Ohiothat will successfully accomplish in heaving your post.  There’s not much point in going through the work of setting your own posts just to have to repair them in the next couple of years. If you’ve hired a contractor, and you observe this method being used when they are setting posts for you – this should raise red flags immediately.  It’s not unreasonable for you to request that a proper footer be set for every post.  You’ve paid for that service, and warranties are only good if the company actually shows up to honor them.  Something that seems to be more and more rare these days!  It’s worth the effort on your part to be sure that the company you’ve hired is doing the right thing!

 

There are a couple of special techniques that we recommend using when customers dig their own footers.  They are the same techniques our crews use when installing for our customers.  We’re happy to provide a tip sheet with drawings and suggestions to our material only customers.  This should make their DIY project easier, and ensure that they do not have problems with heaving posts later down the road.  It will also help the do it yourselfer set a solid footer that will keep their new fence in a nice straight line for years to come!

 

For additional information on products and services from Elyria Fence Inc. feel free to give us a call at 440-323-7581 or take a look at our site www.elyriafence.com.  We’re always happy to have visits to our showroom to kick off the planning of your fence, trellis, arbor or deck project! 

Plan Ahead On A Future Fence or Deck

The summer months can lead to long and frustrating schedule dates.  Logically, it is the height of a fence company’s season.  A good quality company will have a waiting list.  If they do not ~ it’s smart to question why.  Good things come to those who wait is advice that has held true for years.  Avoid scheduling frustrations by planning ahead on your fence, pergola, arbor, trellis or deck! 

At Elyria Fence, a lengthy wait for an installation in the height of summer is not unusual.  There are only a select amount of individuals that are talented enough to install fences, decks and other garden structures for the Elyria Fence Company.  In line with the company’s philosophy, those individuals take pride in their work, and do not rush or cut corners.  This philosophy produces a beautiful fence; however, it also produces a long wait for installations. By planning ahead for summer cook-outs on your deck, you will avoid scheduling woes. 

If a pool is in your future, most city building codes require a fence around the pool.  The more notice you provide to your fence or deck contractor, the less painful the experience will be for you.  It is not unusual for Elyria Fence to take preliminary measurements of a yard that will host a pool in the future.  This way, site information and other details are on-hand ahead of time.  It is less frustrating for the customer if it is the fence company that awaits them.

If you are planning on buying or building a new home, it is also wise to plan well in advance on a fence, pergola, trellis, arbor or deck.  It is not a problem for an estimator from Elyria Fence to meet at the future site well before you are moved in.  This way, accommodating

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individual customers’ schedule requirements are simplified. 

Whatever your future plans include, do yourself a favor, and plan ahead on upcoming fence projects.  Schedule your estimate in advance, and ask to be placed on the waiting list.  It will help to progress your summer fence or deck plans at the pace that you want.  The Elyria Fence Company showroom displays over 90 panels of fence and other garden structures such as arbors, and it is located at 230 Oberlin Rdin Elyria.  An appointment with one of our designers at Elyria Fence to come to your home may be made by calling 440-323-7581.  If the Internet is more convenient, the Company’s Web Site showcases numerous photos of previous work; it can be found at www.elyriafence.com.

Tips to Successfully Kick Off Your Spring Fence Plans

Should I be concerned with the species of wood used when it comes to choosing my fence materials?

 An excellent wood to use for the design portion of your wood fence is Northern White Cedar, which grows in the swamps of Upper Michigan.  This wood has its own natural inhibitors to rot and decay; more importantly, it is a very stable wood for wood fencing.  White Cedar usually shrinks less than one percent and rarely warps, twists, or cups – unlike treated wood generally made from Yellow Pine, and famous for all three unwanted characteristics.

Just as a wooden ship is constructed with a variety of wood species for a purpose, your wooden fence can also benefit from using a variety of species.  Typical Ohio soil contains much clay, and does not drain well.  Combine this problem with the correct construction method of setting posts in a concrete footer, and you have the dilemma of trapped moisture in and around the post.  MicroPro treated wood fence posts, preferably made of Red Pine, should be the material of choice when setting posts.

I’d like my fence in quickly; when is a good time to call a fence contractor?

Call early in the season!  Especially if a backyard pool is in your plans.  You’re required by law to have a fence if you have a pool.  You cannot open your pool for the season with a fence in place. Waiting until the week of your big mid-summer backyard party to call a fence company is usually a recipe for frustration and disappointment.

A reputable fence company is bound to be in demand, therefore don’t be surprised if they have a backlog.  You should expect a reputable fence company to run 6-8 weeks behind on installations at the height of their season. It would be unwise to sacrifice quality and satisfaction for a stopwatch.  Despite the chilly spring temperatures – it’s not too early to begin the planning phase of your fence installation. Remember: less lead-time will be required in early spring as well as in the fall and winter months.  A quality fence company will be available all year long for installation as well as for solving fence problems.  By the beginning of April, most quality Cleveland fence companies are scheduling estimates two weeks out.  If the fence company you’ve called to schedule with is not busy – there is probably a reason.

Do I need a survey done on my property?

In many instances your property lines can be determined by locating property pins still in-ground, curb markers, or by other means.  If this is the case you may choose not to have a survey done.  However, as you the property owner are responsible for construction done on your behalf, you may feel that your markers are not reliable enough to stake your neighbor relations on.  If this is the case, your fence company may be able to arrange a survey to be done before the installation of your fence.  Make sure to have your experienced fence sales representative take a look at your property before making this decision.  He should be able to determine your need for a survey.

What kind of maintenance will my wood fence need? Should I use treated or untreated boards?

 

Wood siding or shingles are usually protected from the weather by stains or paint.  Wood fences are no different, even Northern White Cedar that has cells that absorb very little water or moisture.  Fences in the Cleveland area see a lot of bad weather year after year. The unrelenting soaking, freezing, and drying cycles of the environment play havoc on all species of wood. 

Treated wood is not better than Northern White Cedar at withstanding the rigors of Cleveland, Ohio weather.  It does not work as well because the species selected for treatment are chosen specifically for the ability to soak up moisture.  This enables the wood to soak up the treatment.

We recommend using a good water-repelling stain or clear seal such as the Sikkens line of protectants, Duckback Products, or ArborCoat from Benjamin Moore.  Remember that the cost of a water-repellent product is directly proportional to the durability of the product; in other words, you get what you pay for. Do not paint your fence! The paint will trap moisture against your boards, and will rot the fence rapidly. The above mentioned stain lines all offer solid stain colors. So if you’re dreaming of a white picket fence – don’t worry!  There is a solid white stain, and you will not be able to visibly see the difference between a solid white stain and a white paint. You will feel the difference when your white cedar board lasts for 30 years versus rotting them quickly with paint. So stain – do not paint!

What is the advantage of having my fence custom-built as opposed to purchasing panels?

Prefabricated fence panels will eliminate any personal style that the consumer has.  A fence which is constructed on-site by experienced installers has the advantage of giving an elegant, custom-built appearance, and definitely out-charms the “tacked-up” look of fence panels.  Most prefabricated fence panels purchased from building supply stores will not be constructed of the high-grade materials used by quality-conscious companies’ intent on building a product that will stand the test of time.  It is also not uncommon for these prefabricated fence panels, whether they are ornamental aluminum fence, vinyl fence or wood fence, be imported from China. Not only are these products of significant lesser quality, but purchasing an imported fence product has a direct negative impact American workers. It is critical to consider an American Made product when it comes to ornamental aluminum fences, ornamental aluminum railing,  iron fences, steel fences, and chain link fences.

Are there factors I should keep in mind when choosing a Cleveland area fence or railing company?

 

Look for a good reputation, and a long history of good workmanship.  This is the kind of company that will be around when you need repairs or additions in the future. Not the fly-by-night operation that promises a long warranty, and yet isn’t around to follow through. Check their reviews under the Better Business Bureau & Angie’s List. While it may be difficult to believe, it is not unusual for a company to go out of business (taking customer deposits with them) just to open back up under a new name.  There are two fence companies operating in the Cleveland area that have done just that.  One of these Cleveland fence companies has done this to Cleveland area customers four separate times.  If having your money stolen, and going with a company that is not around to honor its warranty doesn’t sound appealing then do your research thoroughly. Be sure to check reviews under all of their previous business names.

In addition, your contractor should be one that is licensed with the local community and bonded.  Complete liability insurance and worker’s compensation should be carried.

There are many trade associations that ascribe to a code of ethics and high level of workmanship.  Your fence company should be an active member of such an organization.  Some to look for are the Building Industries Association, National Association of Remodelers Industry, Professional Remodelers of Ohio and the American Fence Association.  Your best fence contractor will be one interested in maintaining high standards.

Talk to friends and neighbors who are pleased with their fences.  This kind of word-of-mouth recommendation by fellow consumers is very valuable, and probably a contractor’s truest means of advertising. Did you drive by a fence that looked amazing? Look closely, there is probably a fence sign on the fence from the company that built it.

The Elyria Fence Company has served the Cleveland area and most of Northern Ohio since 1932. We are proud of our reputation, and welcome your inquiries into custom wood fencing, garden fences, lattice, garden lattice, arbors, trellises, garden trellises, and pergolas. We proudly install ornamental iron or aluminum fence, chain link fences, vinyl fencing and custom wood decks or composite decks.  Our product list doesn’t stop there! You’ll also find our porch railing and deck railing throughout northern Ohio as well! Take a look at our website for some great design ideas, www.elyriafence.com.

Time to Paint the Porch Railing Again… Maybe Not!

Nothing adds more elegance or style to a home than maintenance free vinyl railing or maintenance free ornamental aluminum railing.  Nothing decreases your time maintaining your home quite like vinyl or aluminum or metal railings.  Unfortunately, most porch and deck railings are only available as a prepackaged stale design that may or may not complement your home’s unique style.  Lesser brands are typically constructed of poor quality material imported from China.  Digger vinyl railing and Ultra Aluminum Ornamental Aluminum railings provides complete custom designs and colors that coordinate with any style of home from new construction to turn of the century homes.  However, Digger & Ultra Aluminum are only half of the necessary ingredients to create a successful installation. 

Utilizing a company that employs some of the most talented installers in the area is an absolute necessity.  Experience should be demanded, and consumers should require that their installers not be learning as they go on your installation.  Older homes often have porches and stairs that are not evenly spaced.  This is a complicated installation for most companies, however, for experienced installers it is simple problem to solve.    

There are many brand names currently on the market for vinyl railings and ornamental aluminum railings.  Unfortunately, the difference in the quality of the vinyl or aluminum is nearly impossible for a consumer to detect.  What makes vinyl railing strong and weather resistant is the wall thickness, and the chemicals that go into it; chemicals which are invisible to the human eye.  It’s critical to go with a manufacturer and a retailer which have been in the business a long time, and possess a good reputation which they want to maintain.  Digger Specialties has been serving the industry for 26 years, and they offer a Transferable Limited Lifetime Warranty on all of their vinyl railings.  Ultra Aluminum has consistently put out high quality American Made Ornamental Aluminum Railings since 1996.  The only company with railing constructed of high strength Ultrum Alloy with a minimum strength of 35,000 psi.  Railing that is strong as steel, but will never rust!  Their Powercoat Finish is twice the thickness and hardness of a typical acrylic, baked enamel making it more durable, fade resistant and scratch-resistance than other coatings.  Ultra’s ornamental aluminum railing also has 20 percent more aluminum in all of the rails with a full 8 ribs inside.  All backed by a lifetime warranty – what else can you look for in an ornamental aluminum railing. 

So before you begin your annual spring project of repainting your porch or deck railings, take a look at some of the options available from Digger Specialties (www.diggerspecialties.com) and Ultra Ornamental Aluminum (www.ultrafence.com).  For some vinyl railing design options, take a look at the Elyria Fence Vinyl Railing Design Page (http://www.elyriafence.com/Vinyl_Railings.html  ) .  If you’re interested in ornamental aluminum railing design options, take a look at the Elyria Fence Ornamental Aluminum and Metal Railing Design Options page (http://www.elyriafence.com/Ornamental_Aluminum_Railing.html ) by clicking here.

White Cedar Fence Boards versus Treated Fence Boards and Red Cedar Fence Boards

In today’s marketplace it is difficult for consumers to make educated decisions on wood fence.  With the multitude of stores selling treated or Red Cedar fence materials it is easy to assume that this is your best option when building a wood fence.  Consumers do not realize how untrue that information is. 

Northern White Cedar fence boards have cells that absorb very little water or moisture.  This gives it natural inhibitors to fight off rot and decay.  In addition, Northern White Cedar is one of the most stable woods available to the building industry.  It will shrink less than one percent, and rarely warps, twists or cups – unlike treated wood fence boards, generally made from Yellow Pine, and famous for all three unwanted characteristics.

The unrelenting soaking, freezing, and drying cycles of the environment play havoc on all species of wood.  Treated wood is no better than Cedar at withstanding the rigors of Ohio weather.  In fact, it may not work as well, since the species selected for treatment are chosen specifically for their ability to soak up moisture.  This allows the wood to soak up the chemical treatments.

Red Cedar is another popular choice when building a fence.  Even though it is still cedar, there is a large difference between Red and White Cedar.  Red Cedar is a larger tree than White Cedar.  Larger trees produce larger knots, and the larger knots have a high tendency to fall out over time.  This leaves a large hole in the board.  Red Cedar is most commonly found in Oregon.  Due to the environment that it grows in, it does not have the opportunity to build up a resistance to rot and decay.  Northern White Cedar grows in the swamps in upper Michigan, and through time has developed it’s own resistance against rot and decay.  Through the years, Red Cedar will weather to a dark gray or black color.  White Cedar will weather to a light gray to create a rustic look.  Lastly, Red Cedar has a very different grain than White Cedar.  Due to the pattern of the grain, Red Cedar boards have a tendency to split.

Just as a wooden ship is constructed with a variety of wood species for a purpose, your wood fence can also benefit from using a variety of species.  In other words, treated materials do have a place in the construction of a fence.  Typical Ohio soil contains a lot of clay and does not drain well.  Combine this problem with the correct construction method of setting posts in a concrete footer, and you have the dilemma of trapped moisture in and around the post.  This is an ideal environment for the decay fungus to operate in.  Therefore we recommend using MicroPro treated wood for the posts, preferably made of Red Pine.

The Elyria Fence Co. has custom-built wood fencing since 1932.  Through the years they have researched different options, and inspected numerous mills.  It is a company that survives on its reputation.  Providing only high quality materials from reputable mills is the only option.  That is why as a company, they feel very strongly about the white cedar fence board and MicroPro treated post combination.  It is the longest lasting and sturdiest combination that they have come across.

Customers can feel free to stop into the Elyria Fence showroom at 230 Oberlin Rd in Elyria; they will find over 90 panels wood fencing on display and photograph albums of previous jobs.  Experienced and knowledgeable estimators are also available for a free in-home estimate, and can be contacted at 440-323-7581 or 800-779-7581.  If the Internet is more convenient, look-up the Website at www.elyriafence.com to view the extensive collection of fence and deck work.

Do Products Today Have An Assumed Five Year Expiration Date?

It appears anymore that products only last about Five years.  At least, that is the statistic in my home.  Whether it was made in America or outside of the United States – it lasts about Five years.  My husband and I built a home 5 ½ years ago.  Due to the fact that we were building a new home, we purchased new appliances.  At around the Five year anniversary of home ownership, we began realizing that there is an unwritten Five year expiration date on our appliances!  Between the 5 and 5 ½ year mark, our dishwasher died, the microwave caught on fire, and the washing machine clunked its way right out the door.  To repair these machines would’ve cost the same as a new machine.  Neither choice was inexpensive.  A variety of emotions floods your mind when you realize that you now have to replace almost all of your new appliances at the same time.  I easily remember appliances in my previous home lasting 20 + years with few repairs needed.  Are those days gone?  I fear in most industries that they are.

 

The construction industry has easily fell victim to the same trend as the appliance industry.  Should your fence or trellis be expected to last longer than 5 years?  Yes, it should, but does it?  It depends on how it’s built, and what it’s built with.  The large box stores have swayed the trend and mindset of consumers.  You have three or four designs to choose from, and the products are considerably less expensive.  In return they last about three to five years.  Does that really save the consumer money when they are needing to replace the product every three to five years across the lifetime of their homeownership?  Of course not, but it definitely has become an industry standard.  For the educated and savvy consumer, there are still some choices left that provide a reasonably priced product with the ability to provide a long lasting lifespan.

 

For example, northern white cedar is a wood that is often used for shingles on homes in the northeast.  It holds up year after year after year to some of the worst weather the United States can throw at it.  It grows in the swamps of the Upper Peninsula in Northern Michigan.  When used as a fence board, consumers can expect a wood that does not shrink, twist or warp.  A refreshing option from the treated materials typically sold through box stores.  So when the lesser quality panels begin to twist and pull apart, a client that has chosen a northern white cedar fence can rest easy as they glance out at their fence on cold, snowy days.  The northern white cedar fence will stand strong to the rains, the sleet, snow and blazing hot sun.  It will maintain its shape, and carry its natural beauty for 20-30 years.  Additionally, consumers have the choice to either stain their northern white cedar fence or leave it natural.  If you choose to leave it natural, you will still experience at least 20 years of a beautiful and strong fence in your yard.  It will fade to a light gray, but will continue to maintain its shape, and resist rot and decay all on its own.  I don’t think you can ask more than that from a wood fence!

 

The affect that the big box stores has had is not limited to wood fence.  There are also choices in ornamental aluminum and polyvinyl fence.  I believe the common assumption today is that if you want an ornamental aluminum fence, you will need to purchase a product constructed with cheap aluminum imported from China.  Few of these fences have the ability to hold up for any length of time.  With a thin wall, and poor construction they fail quickly.  Again, for the savvy consumer that does a bit of research – you will find that there are still American companies producing high quality ornamental aluminum fences from strong American aluminum alloy.  One such company, Ultra Aluminum, produces ornamental aluminum with 20 percent more aluminum in their rails than any other manufacturer.  There is no need to settle for a poor quality product manufactured of sub-par imported aluminum.  Again, if a product will only last three to five years ~ does this really save anyone money in the end?  If you would like to learn more about Ultra’s ornamental aluminum fences and railings, take a look at their website: www.ultrafence.com.

 

The same quality issues hold true in the vinyl industry as well!  How often do you drive by to see a vinyl fence sagging in the middle, or better yet pickets that are busted off at the top.  The cause?  It’s a combination of things.  The first problem is a thin, low quality vinyl brand.  What makes a vinyl fence stable in the various temperatures and weather extremes are the stabilizing chemicals that are added to it.  The chemicals drive up the cost of the product, but they also ensure the product’s ability to handle cold and hot weather.  A product that has skimped on its stabilizing chemicals will cost less, but will break in the cold weather, and melt in the sun.  Another common assumption in vinyl fence is that you must sleeve a vinyl post over a wood post.  The reason that certain manufacturers require this is due to the wall thickness on the post.  It is so thin that it is not able to act as a support post at all.  A well made vinyl fence doesn’t need a wood post to hold it up.  A well made vinyl fence simply needs a vinyl post with the right wall thickness for the job!  Another common issue with vinyl fences are the bracketing systems that are sold in many box stores.  They don’t work well for any length of time.  The brackets typically fail, and the fence has a tendency to blow through several yards looking a bit like a sail off a sailboat.  A high quality vinyl fence, should always be notched at the rails, and inserted directly into the post.  This system creates a strong and sturdy installation that should be expected to hold up for years.  The last key ingredient to consider is the warranty on the vinyl product.  Most carry a lifetime warranty, but this is useless if the company will only be in a business for a couple of years.  I can say that the warranty provided by Kroy Building Products is a lifetime warranty, and they stand behind it.  I have seen them back up their warranty in times when they really did not need to.  They are an old company with a lot of experience, and refuse to place an inferior product on the market.  Kroy is a company that would prefer to lose a sale than to sell a vinyl fence that will last for five years.  If you would like to learn more about Kroy and the products that they offer – you might take a look at their website: www.kroybp.com.

 

Even though there does seem to be a growing trend for manufacturers to put out poor products that break down quickly… the good old days have not completely faded away.  Yes, I’ve had to replace most of my appliances five years after buying them, however, I can look out my window everyday, and appreciate our northern white cedar fence that holds up to the crazy weather in Cleveland, young children, soccer balls, and a golden retriever!  It still looks great, and it definitely doesn’t show its age!  For some great options in northern white cedar fencing, check out www.elyriafence.com.

 

Will The Real Home and Garden Show Please Stand Up?

These are trying times for Clevelanders.  It seems that last year and this year, we were faced with a challenging situation! A situation that forced us to long for the good old days when there was one Home & Garden Show, and one Remodeling Show. Yes, they were simple times. It appears now that there are several shows, and they tend to occur frequently throughout the year.  This is challenging for not just our local consumers, but for exhibitors as well.

In a difficult economy, exhibitors reach to snag every possible lead. In a difficult economy, consumers struggle to limit their expenses.  With Home & Garden Shows averaging $30.00 for a couple plus at times parking fees ~ it’s difficult to attend more than one. For families, it’s even more challenging. Tickets must now be purchased for 4-6 people plus where there are children ~ there are growling tummies. Yes, Home & Garden Shows are pricey. Are they worth it? If you have the plans to remodel your home or yard this year ~ yes. A consumer is able to locate several contractors to interview for their project. They see the quality of their products, and can compare those products in person all in the same place.  Additionally, if a company can afford booth space and manpower to work it ~ you can feel confident that they’re financially stable to stand behind their work for years to come. In a difficult economy, that means everything! When dealing with items in the home improvement industry ~ up close and personal still holds a lot of merit. Not only do today’s modern home improvement, and home and garden shows play host to the top competitors in their field ~ it also provides feature stages which present speakers that are considered to be at the top of their game in their respective fields. Lastly, for those of us in Northern Ohio, how wonderful is it to simply escape to somewhere warm with colorful flowers, beautiful dream homes and experts discussing orchids? In so many ways, the modern Home and Garden, and Home Improvement Shows give us just a little therapy that is so badly needed in our cold northeast lives! The challenge? Which show to attend? Which show to exhibit at? Consumers can’t possibly afford to attend all of them, and exhibitor’s can’t realistically afford booth space at all of them. So will the real home and garden show please step forward?

As an exhibitor, we’ve been challenged for two years to decide, and restrict where our money would go. We’ve been exhibitors at the Home & Garden Show at the IX Center for at least 25 years. We’ve also been involved with the Remodel Ohio Show organized by PRO at the IX Center for years as well. These are solid, well-organized shows. We’ve enjoyed being a part of it, and they’re quite well attended by consumers. So if there are  two really nice shows at the IX Center, why does Cleveland need another show? Well, as exhibitors we are privy to a little information on this issue. The following is information that has been provided to us by the show organizers and the IX Center. In 2009, to the best of our knowledge, the contract was ended with the company (Expositions Inc) that had organized the Home & Garden Show at the IX Center for years. The contract for 2010 was awarded to Marketplace Events. Marketplace Events had to change the name to the Great Big Home & Garden Expo since Expositions Inc. owned the other name. So the answer to a question that I’ve fielded for a year now, ‘Why on earth did they change the name?’ That’s why. Now, why an extra show? Unfortunately, Expositions Inc did not take losing the contract lightly. So they planned an alternate show at the same time to compete with the IX Center. Regretfully, there is a show that has been placed in the crosshairs so to speak in the war between Expositions Inc & the IX Center. This show is called the Remodel Ohio Show, and has a long-standing reputation for high quality, local contractors. It’s a wonderful show which is managed by PRO (Professional Remodelers of Ohio). The Remodel Ohio Show is all business ~ you will not find anyone selling sunglasses or the next best mop. Remodel Ohio sticks to what consumers want most. Award winning remodeling contractors. Local companies that have consistently produced quality products for years. They have impressive feature homes with outdoor fireplaces, and an Ultimate Mancave that would make any hubby drool. The Remodel Ohio Show is worth a consumers time and money. This show runs January 21st – January 23 at the IX Center. When you stand back, and take a look at this scenario, it certainly appears that they’ve placed Remodel Ohio right in the middle of this civil war by running on the same exact date. Expositions Inc did not have a lot of locations to choose from for their new show. They chose the old Kmart at the Euclid Square Mall. This is being called the Great Lakes Expo Center this year.

There was a lot of confusion last year for consumers, and exhibitors alike. Exhibitors had to gamble as to which show to exhibit at. Consumers, had to gamble on which show to spend their money at. I encountered a lot of customers that did attend the show at the old Kmart in Euclid (Great Lakes Expo Center). Regretfully, the experience was sub par. Their response? I’m never attending another Home & Garden Show again. For exhibitors – this is a tragic opinion which hurts companies showing at all of the shows. The complaints that we received over and over again ~ there were no restrooms, only porta-potties; the lighting was dim, and it was difficult to see the displays; the gardens were less than impressive. Many of our customers also expressed that they felt uncomfortable with the location in general. Over and over and over again I was asked ~ why did they move the show? Well, they didn’t move the show. There is still a Home & Garden Show at the IX Center. They just gave it a new name.   It is now called The Great Big Home & Garden Expo. That show runs from February 5th-February 13th.

As exhibitors, we were apprehensive last year. No one likes change, and we felt a bit like we were diving in head first, but trusted the long-standing reputation that IX Center has. These initial concerns were unnecessary. We were blown away at the sheer size of the gardens. They were twice the size as years past. They were more creative, and cutting age. There were more of them, and they were gorgeous. We’ve exhibited and attended these shows for years, and last year’s gardens were the best we’ve seen. The exhibitors there were top in their field, and the speakers were some of the best available in the United States. As the show shapes up for this year, the gardens are lining up to be amazing, and the speakers are superstars in their fields. So if a home and garden show with no restrooms and lots of Sham Wow displays is what you’re looking for – then head over to the Cleveland Home & Flower Show at the old Euclid Kmart (Great Lakes Expo Center). If you want a home improvement show that delivers contractors with high quality creative products then head to the Remodel Ohio Show at the IX Center, January 21st – January 23rd.  If a home & garden show with drop dead gorgeous landscape displays, amazing water features, and expert after expert on hand then head to the Great Big Home & Garden Expo at the IX Center, February 5th-February 13th.

Show times, speaker schedules and discounted tickets can be purchased on each company’s website. For $3.00 off the ticket price to Remodel Ohio go to www.remodelohio.org. For discounted online tickets to The Great Big Home and Garden Expo, use Promo Code ELYRIAFENCE for $4.00 off ticket prices, www.greatbighomeandgarden.com.

Sustainability and Environmentally Friendly Choices in Garden Fence

More and more families are turning to home gardens to feed their families. With the cost of organic produce, it’s certainly no surprise that there is a rise in popularity for the home garden. Growing your own organic and all natural vegetable and fruit garden can be a very economical and healthy way to reduce your weekly grocery bill. It seems that along with the increasing number of home gardens across the United States, the idea of going to a raised bed system is gaining popularity as well. It’s easier to maintain and grow a healthy crop of fruit and vegetables when they are grown in a raised bed system. Not to mention, the raised bed system can make for a more attractive and organized garden.

Garden’s, while practical and useful, can be a slight eyesore in your backyard. In addition to their awkward appearance, they tend to fall victim to the bunny. An animal that is adorably cute and fuzzy until you watch it tear through your garden! An attractive garden fence is an excellent solution. It keeps a variety of pests away from your prized lettuces; additionally separating the area from your yard – giving it a more attractive and organized look.

Many Americans are turning to organic and natural pesticides and fungicides to battle the bugs. Prefering to stay away from the harmful chemicals. If this is a priority, continue the thought all the way through including the construction of your raised beds and fences. If your plan is to use a treated material for your raised beds then consider using Osmose MicroPro. MicroPro is a revolutionary way to pressure treat wood for decks, fence posts and other products for general construction use. It is the first wood to receive EPP Status (Environmentally Preferable Product) certified by the Scientific Certification Systems. The Osmose MicroPro preservative system reduces total energy use by approximately 80 percent and greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The copper in wood products treated with the Osmose MicroPro preservative system bonds readily to organic matter in the soil. The result is that the copper becomes biologically inactive, thus causing no eco-toxic or other environmental impacts. Wood products treated with the Osmose MicroPro preservative system result in the release of 90 percent to 99 percent less copper into aquatic and terrestrial environments when compared to standard treated wood products.

When considering which wood to use for a garden fence, northern white cedar is an excellent choice. A garden fence may not be high on your list for things that need to be stained. So it’s important to use a wood that performs well if left unstained. Northern white cedar, if left natural, will change to a light silvery gray. It is an attractive and rustic look that blends well with gardens and other cottage or garden type of applications. Other than fading to a silver gray, it will not shrink, twist or warp like treated boards will do. It will not crack or lose its knots like red cedar does. It will stand steady and strong to protect your garden for 20-30 years. We have a million reasons for loving the white cedar that we use for our wood fence, arbors, trellises and pergolas, however, one of the best parts about the white cedar that is supplied to us (and only us) is how it is forested. The White Cedar that is carried by Elyria Fence is originally grown in the National Forest in the UP of Michigan. Permission is granted by the Forest Industry to cut the trees, however, the boughs & limbs are left behind for the deer to feed on throughout the winter. The UP receives so much snow throughout the winter months that the deer population struggles against the constant threat of starvation. The program of leaving the boughs and limbs behind has saved countless lives from the inevitable fate of starvation. Once the trunk of the tree is harvested, the bark is scraped off and used for mulch. The remaining portion of the tree is then cut for boards. It of course goes without saying that the Biodegradability of wood make it the most environmentally friendly product out there for fences, arbors, trellises or pergolas.

Another helpful feature to go along with a beautiful white cedar garden fence, is a diagonal or square lattice trellis to coordinate and match the fence. Trellises make it considerably easier to grow tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and any other vine vegetable. They will also leave more space in your bed for other vegetables to grow along side of the vines.

For more information on Osmose MicroPro, take a look at their website:
http://www.osmosewood.com/micropro/micropro.html

Northern White Cedar – Great Choice For a Long Lasting Fence, Garden Arch, Trellis or Pergola

There are a lot of species of wood used for fence. Some commonly found options on the market are red cedar and also treated pine. Both are easy to come by, sold by an abundance of mills, and cheap. While a popular choice for fence boards – not always are they the best choice. Treated boards are typically the least expensive option on the market. It’s true – they will not rot. It is also true that they will twist and warp their way right off of their frame. Treated boards will also shrink – often so dramatically that a privacy fence is quickly transformed into a spaced fence. Red cedar, an easy material to come by, also has its share of warranty complications. It certainly boasts a much longer life than a treated board, and is a mid-priced option. It also boasts a high rate for cracking and losing its knots. The red cedar tree is a much larger tree than it’s competitor, the Northern White Cedar tree. The limbs are considerably larger on the red cedar, obviously leading to a larger knot. The loose grain, which is so characteristic of the red cedar tree, not only loses the knot (leaving behind a large hole), but it also cracks easily. Consumers are plagued with a fence in need of constant repair.
Northern White Cedar – not just used in fencing, but also a very popular choice for shingles on homes, is a strong and successful player in the fence market. It does not twist, shrink or warp like a treated board will do. The Northern White Cedar board stands strong, year after year, guaranteeing that a privacy fence will remain a privacy fence. It is also a board which is low on the consumer headache list! Customers are not constantly fighting natural occurrences such as lots knots or cracked boards. The Northern White Cedar board has a very tight grain, and is a much smaller tree than the red cedar tree. Therefore, the limbs are smaller – creating a much smaller knot. The tight grain, so characteristic of the Northern White Cedar tree retains those knots year after year. The Northern White Cedar Tree is a tree that grows in the swamps of the UP in upper Michigan. Nature has evolved it into a species that has developed its own resistance to rot and decay, so that it can survive such damp extremes. If left alone, unstained and unmaintained the northern white cedar fence boards should see a lifespan of  20 years. If well maintained, stained and cared for – a consumer could easily extend the life the fence to 30 years.
When planning for your next fence, trellis, garden arch or pergola be sure to consider all the choices for materials. While some options may cost less in the beginning – there is little value if they need replaced or repaired in one to two years.
Take a look at the following link for additional information on common materials used in the fence industry: http://www.elyriafence.com/Materials.html
Here are some great photographs on Flikr of various northern white cedar fences: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elyria_fence/

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