Fences are a strange creature. We see them every day, drive by them, pass through them, and some of us even peek over them. (Ok, maybe not the peeking part.) However, even though fences are the norm, who really thinks about them until it’s time to put one up? What is involved in building a fence that’s practical, secure, and looks great?
Probably more than you think. Here are some questions that are often asked, and of course, you’ll find the answers as well. If you have any questions that are not found on this page, please feel free to contact us. We’re more than happy to fill in the blanks. You can find contact information at the bottom of each page of our site.
Cedar has natural oils and acids in the wood that make it undesirable to most insects. This allows the wood to be installed in its unfinished form and last for many years. Cedar also warps less than Whitewood or Pine fences.
The stains you see are from corroding or rusting nails and fasteners. Cedar mills recommend the use of aluminum, stainless steel or polymer-coated fasteners. When galvanized nails or fasteners are used in Cedar, the acids in the wood react with the zinc and cause the corrosion streaks you see on your fence (see also why Cedar). At first, the only sign of fastener deterioration may be the streaks, but eventually the fastener will decay enough to lose its friction hold in the wood. Then your great-looking fence begins to fall apart.
Steel posts come in many shapes and sizes. The most common post for wood fences in the Dallas area is 2 3/8 inch diameter galvanized. There are also many thicknesses of steel that can be used to make the post. The two most common thicknesses are 0.065 (15 Gauge) and 0.095 (CS-20); the greater the number the thicker the steel.
The distance between the posts, the location of wind breaks, and the height of the fence…each play a role in determining the thickness of a post. While a 6 foot fence located against an alley and lined with shrubs might be fine with 0.065, and the 8 foot fence off to one side of a yard does well with posts 6 feet apart and 0.095 thick, the 8 foot fence along an open street might need posts to be spaced 5 feet apart with a steel thickness of .120 (schedule 40 Standard pipe). In extreme load conditions, the diameter of the pipe could be increased, thus causing a exponential increase in the rigidity of the fence post.
While it’s not rocket science to set a post into the ground, careful consideration should be given to this phase of the work. Most manufacturers of post-setting materials suggest a hole diameter 3 times that of the post. This is a good rule for secure footers, but what about the depth? According to local architects, the first foot of soil in the Dallas area is considered unstable. Thus, if the post needs a sound two-foot-deep footer, then the post needs to be set three feet deep.
Other factors to consider are rocks, roots, and the occasional pocket of sandy or loose soil. All of these require special techniques if the desired result is a secure and hidden installation that matches the craftmanship of the above-ground finished product.
Ideally no, but then all sorts of things would be coming and going from your yard. Leaving a gap at the bottom keeps your fence from trapping soil and water and thus from rotting the fence bottom. And if you ask your termite control company, they will tell you this is the only sure way to keep termites out of the fence.
A way to have the best of both worlds is to use a CCA treated pine board at the bottom, most commonly a 2×6 and called anything from a base board to a “Kicker board”. This board allows the fence itself to be up off of the soil while the base board holds the soil and closes off the gap at the bottom of the fence. Termites tend to avoid the treated board. In most cases, even if the board does decay it can be replaced more easily than your fence.
We haul off the old fence and concrete when we are finished, if not sooner. The fence sections are taken away to be ground up and recycled and the concrete is also recycled. In my 23 years in this business, I’ve watched many landfills go from a 50-foot hole in the ground to a 50-foot hill, so it’s best if we send this material to be recycled instead of eventually paying a higher cost to throw it away.
Before starting work, we will contact the Texas One Call notification center. Most of the utilities, except water, are listed with them. They will contact the utilities, who then come out and locate their lines to the meters on the property and also any lines that cross the property in easements. Sprinkler system lines are another common problem, so if you have the irrigation plan that came with the system it will be easier to find the lines. We will be happy to work with you to minimize any damage to your system.
We certainly recommend that our customers choose to have their new fence stained to protect it. We do this one of two ways; we can dip the boards in stain before constructing the fence, or spray it on later. Both methods are beneficial to the life of your new fence.
The dipped version of the stain/sealer will last for 5-7 years before the wood needs to be cleaned and resealed.
The stain protects the natural oils and fibers in the wood. Without the protection of the stain/sealer, the wood turns slowly grey as the oils are leeched out by the sun and rain.
There are many good operators on the market. Before buying, consider these important points.
- Find a brand that is sold locally.
- Find a brand that has parts readily available.
- Consider the weight and length of the gate.
Battery powered operators are a good choice for some instances. They can be recharged in bright, unobstructed sun. Some come with quality Gel cell batteries for long life.
This is possible with what is called a tandem gate. A tandem gate is a two piece gate system that will slide into an area roughly 2/3 the width of the opening. In some cases it will require a larger operator because of the mechanics involved.
The three basic types of drive mechanisms are chain drive, rack and pinion, cable and solid drive rail. The most common mechanism for slide gates is chain.
Linear actuator and Articulated arm. The advantages of the Linear is it can be placed on the gate post and wired to a control box farther from the gate and is great for close clearance applications as well as being small and low profile. The articulated gate operators commonly mount onto a steel pedestal or concrete pad and require room for the operator and have a bigger profile.
Treated Pine is rated in pounds per cubic foot chemical retention. This can be found on the label on the end of the wood. .25 is rated for above ground use such as deck railings, decks and fences. The next level is .40 for ground contact use such as post and retainer wall boards. The highest is .60 for in-ground use such as buried foundations and piers under water.
The new ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) treated lumber requires stainless steel nails or hot dipped fasteners with a G-185 rating (1.85ounces of zinc per square foot of metal or ASTM A-153-D), to resist the breakdown over time because of the new Acidic preservatives.
Most of the treated wood is only treated to a point into the wood and not all of the way thru. This of course varies with the amount of treatment applied and can vary from 1/2″ on up. It is possible for a .60 2×4 to be treated all of the way to the center while a 6×6 post may not be. When the wood is cut this will be noticed as a lighter color and in order to make the wood last the longest the ends of the wood need to have a treatment brushed on.
Cedar is not typically treated with a preservative. It’s coarse, open grain does not allow treatments to set well. It is, however, naturally resistant to decay. Cedar and Redwood have oils and acids that preserve the wood so a good sealer or non-organic stain can be applied to keep the woods natural defenses at maximum.
Yes. We have found Cypress to be every bit as functional and attractive as Cedar fences. Cypress can be pre-stained like the Cedar, and it has natural insect and decay resistance. Read more about this fine wood at beautifulwoodforest.com
When choosing what type of wood to use for your deck, there are some things to consider.
- Longevity and durability.
- Having your deck ‘match’ your home, which makes the deck become an extension of your home.
Depending on your local supplier, you’ll likely find that the list of recommended woods, listed according to relative cost, are treated Pine, Cedar, Composites, Redwood, Teak and IPE.
While Teak may be a new idea in the world of backyard decks, it has been used for years to build boats. Teak is excellent in retaining its shape and form when subjected to water contact. It boasts low maintenance, longevity, and minimal expansion and warpage. It is a harder wood than Cedar or Redwood. With pre-drilled holes, Teak attaches well with hidden fasteners or deck screws. Learn more about it at beautifulwoodforest.com