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! 

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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.

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.

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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