Fences are a strange creature. We see them every day, drive by them, and pass through them and some of us even peek over them. Even though fences are the norm, not many people really think about them until it’s time to put one up. Do you know what is involved in building a fence that's practical, secure, and looks great? Most likely, more than you think.
Here are some questions that are often asked about fences and fence contruction. As always, 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.
Should my fence be touching the ground?
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 2x6 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.
It's just a hole in the ground, isn't it?
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 whole 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 Houston 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 craftsmanship of the above-ground finished product.
What about steel posts?
Steel posts come in many shapes and sizes. The most common post for wood fences in the area are2 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 an exponential increase in the rigidity of the fence post.
What about all of those underground wires and cables?
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.
Is Cypress a good fence wood?
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.
Why choose Cedar?
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.
Is Treated Pine wood treated completely to the center?
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 2x4 to be treated all of the way to the center while a 6x6 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.
What are the differences in Treated Pine treatment levels?
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.
What fasteners do I need for Treated Pine?
The new ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) treated lumber requires stainless steel nails or hot dipped fasteners with a G-185 rating. A G-185 rating is 1.85 ounces of zinc per square foot of metal or ASTM A-153-D on each and every fastener manufactured.
This helps resist the breakdown over time because of the new acidic preservatives.
Is Cedar or Redwood treated to resist decay like Treated Pine?
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.
How does stain increase life of the fence?
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 bleached out by the sun and rain.
untreated fence Fence treated with protective stain
Do you stain your fences to protect them from the elements?
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.
How often does my fence need to be stained?
The dipped version of the stain/sealer will last for 5-7 years before the wood needs to be cleaned and resealed.
What type of gate operator should I get?
There are many good operators on the market. Before buying, consider these important points.
1.) Find a brand that is sold locally.
2.) Find a brand that has parts readily available.
3.) 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.
What are the basic types of swing gate operators?
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.
What are the basic ways an operator mechanically moves a gate?
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.
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