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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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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.

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