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.

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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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