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.

 

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