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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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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.

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.

 

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

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