Friday, February 16, 2018
Last year, a couple of big storms came through knocking down a lot of fences. This led to a number of exposed backyards and loose dogs in the neighborhood. It also led to a bonanza of weekend side work picking up debris and repairing or replacing downed fences. For the most part, these fences were wooden privacy fences that had sheared off at ground level because their posts had rotted underground. Sometimes just the panels between posts had blown down, and the nails that held the top and bottom rails of the panel had pulled through the wood, damaging it. Fixing these required reinforcing the joint with additional wood. It's a tedious make-do solution that doesn't look very good from the house side of a fence, and in the worst cases can be seen from the street.
While wood panel fences work well enough for a little while, modular fence panels make it easy to install a fence on your own, and they make replacements and repairs easier, too. Modular fences use preconstructed panels that are simply cut to length and put into place. Usually, they mount with pre-sized brackets to make things even easier. Since they install more quickly than custom fences or ones built on the spot from scratch, they also provide a savings on labor, and sometimes even on the total cost of the project.
In short, modular refers to something that can be used in many different circumstances without substantial or time-consuming alterations. Modules on a computer, for instance, are sections of software that can be swapped out without affecting the entire program. In furniture, a modular sofa is one that lets you swap around the individual seats to adjust the sofa's shape and size to fit your room. A modular fence uses pre-assembled wood or steel fence panels that easily fit together to work in any yard.
These panels install by attaching to mounts on a post. This is in comparison to more traditional fences in which each section has to be carefully customized to fit the place it will go. A modular fence reduces the effort needed to adapt a fence to suit the circumstances. One circumstance that modular fences easily adjust to is a slope.
The hardest part of installing a fence is adjusting it for a hill or slope. Before modular fences, a sloped lot left you with two options:
Ideally, the best fence for a sloped yard is one that doesn't need to be stepped, and some modular fences have come up with an easier solution called a rackable panel. This fixes the issue by attaching each picket to the rail with a hinge. This means that when each section of railing is mounted, the rails and pickets are able to adjust for the grade change by pivoting into place.
Rackable fence panels aren't entirely perfect though. The pins are sturdy, but they aren't the heaviest connections available and the construction is complicated, so don't skimp on quality, or you may end up with a fence that's flimsier than you would like.
Before buying a modular fence you'll first need to decide on a material. Your choice will depend on your personal needs, but homeowners look for a long-lasting material that will provide a strong barrier for security.
As you can tell, each of these materials has its pros and cons. You may like the look of wood despite its issues with maintenance, you may choose vinyl for a privacy fence that doesn't rot, or you may go with steel for its classic look and longevity. But there's one type of modular fence that stands apart.
For sturdy modular fencing that will stand up to a teenager as well as it will stand up to a windstorm, a steel panel fence is hard to beat. It's the closest thing to hurricane proof fencing there is. However, not all are made to the highest standards. A key construction feature to look for is whether the pickets go through the rail. Fences with pickets that go through the rail will be sturdier than one in which the pickets are bolted to the side of the rail. The width of the pickets and rails is also a key part of a fence's ability to stand up to the elements and neighbors alike.
You'll want to think about rust protection, as this will make a difference in both the appearance and durability of a steel fence. Coatings not only give fences a nice appearance, but they also help prevent corrosion which can eat into your fence and cause structural issues. A high-quality fence should use more than one coating to protect the metal from moisture.
You'll also want to look carefully at rackable panels. Pins that go through the picket and the rail detract from the appearance of the fence and can compromise the rust-proofing. This may be a special consideration for neighborhoods where local ordinances dictate that the street side and neighbors get the favorable view.
One fence that has all of these features is the Versai fence from Fortress Fence. The Versai fence is a pre-galvanized, e-coated, and powder-coated modular fence panel system that has true five-eighth-inch pickets that are sturdier than similar fences. The hinges for its rackable panels are concealed within the rail for a pivot that doesn't damage the rust-proof coating. To find out more about the Versai fence and other fence products, contact Fortress. For more products that display Fortress' careful engineering, take a look at Fortress Building Products' deck and railing brands.