Explore options in fencing
By Mitzi B ible
Victory in Vinyl
Perhaps the latest trend in fencing—not available a half-century ago—is vinyl. Then durable material now used on many of the newly constructed homes in the area can be seen in everything from a safety fence around a pool to an ornamental garden fence.
Jason Nuckols of Vinyl Porch Rail Co. in Lynchburg says vinyl is so popular because it is maintenance-free. “You can do just about anything with vinyl that you could do with wood, but there’s no more painting, no more staining. You’ve invested your money in getting a quality
product that will last you throughout the years,” he explains.
According to the American Fence Association, vinyl is built to last: “Vinyl remains strong, even in extreme weather climates, and will withstand high impact levels. The weatherability benefits ensure even coloring over the years and resistance to the physical implications of aging.”
Vinyl fences can come with a wood-grain look and in many different colors, Nuckols says.
“A lot of people call up and say, ‘I want it to blend with the background.’” That’s when you can choose the right color, he says, such as black fence to match black shutters on a home. And the setting is important, too. While a horse fence may look great on a farm, it may not look practical in a subdivision.
“You want to follow suit; it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Being educated on the fence and the material and what’s in it… really makes a big difference,” he says.
Although Nuckols recommends using a local company to do the job “for better quality and better customization,” he does take orders from the eager do-it-yourselfer, offering technical support along the way.
He says homeowners are pleased with the vinyl fencing products available today, durable enough to keep a rowdy animal in, but stylish enough to add value to your home. “Day after day, you get that same new effect [with vinyl]. You make your investment up front and it looks just as good five years down the road as it did at first.”
Iron It Out
Blacksmith Jeremy Funderburk takes his cue from the iron fences, gates and entranceways in the old Southern towns of Charleston and Savannah.
“Those [fences] have been down there for centuries and will outlast, hands down, anything,” he says. “Most people want something that’s traditional and classic-looking and iron is classic.”
That’s why he believes iron—frequently called wrought iron—is the best product in the fencing industry.
“We use all solid material. In my opinion, it’s top-notch,” he says.
And top-notch does come with a high price tag, he admits. The more custom and ornate the design and the more material required the higher the cost.
Funderburk’s Evington Ironworks business, operating out of a new 14,000-foot facility just south of Lynchburg, does all different types of fence and gate projects, along with welding repair and other ironworks jobs. Another recent business trend is replacing porch rails. In one year, Funderburk said his business has done 30 to 40 replacements of wood porch railings in the area. “People I talk to are tired of replacing
their wood rails every few years. We build permanent iron rails that will last a lifetime. It is very cost-effective down the road and adds
value to the home as well,” he says.
Because iron fencing is typically found on larger estates, adding it to your home instantly increases curb appeal.
“Anytime you put iron on a house, it adds value, especially on an outside of a house,” Funderburk says. “You get one chance for a first impression when [visitors] drive up to a house. And when they see iron on a house, that’s something that is different.”
Wood Still Works
New technology and new pressure-treatment methods have made wood fences more durable than ever before. For those who only want the natural look of wood—and for those who have large distances to cover—wood is often the only option.
Wood continues to be the most practical and economical choice for a post-and-rail fence, according to the American Fence Association. It is also an environmentally sound option.
The key to making wood fences last longer? Choose the right post and the right post installation. Because posts are inserted in the ground, they are more likely to rot than the rest of the fence. For example, cedar posts will rot if set in concrete and should be placed directly into the posthole, the association says. Pressuretreated pine posts are the ideal because they resist rotting and can be set in concrete. Perhaps an even sturdier option, though, is using steel and metal posts; post and bracket systems are available that can be hidden so the fence still looks like it is
entirely made of wood.
The life of a wood fence can also be extended by treating it with a water-repellent solution to help resist warping and protect against insect damage. And it’s always a good idea to finish it off with stain or paint, which helps seal the wood.
Whatever material you choose, a fence can add ease, comfort and value to your home and your life, so investigate your options and choose carefully.