In or Out – The Power of Fences
Fences are part of the American home. The white picket fence keeping the cocker spaniel in and the ruffians out. The barbed wire fences that surround the ranches of the West, redefining the country. The chain link fences that surround important places or help to keep children safe in the backyard.
Fences can be a symbol of freedom – a sign to the world that you own your little piece of American dream. In this brief article, we will review the different types of fences and what they can be used for. We will also look at how to hire a fence contractor.
A note on the difference between a fence and a wall. In practical terms for this article, we aren’t differentiating, but technically, a wall has a solid foundation along it length and a fence does not. In this article, a fence is anything designed to surround a parcel of land, whether for security, aesthetics, or containment.
Different Types of Fences
There are fences of nearly every sort, from primitive rock fences to elaborate security fences that can keep most anything out.
- Rock fence – Among the earliest fences, rock fences or rock walls were built to surround land. Designed less for containment or repulsion, their primary function was to demarcate the land lines between owners. Made from stones found in the fields nearby, they were simply a long line of stone piled on itself. Less frequently, the stone would be mortared together to build a more robust wall. Even today, the remnants of these walls can be found all over the country.
- Wooden fence – In its oldest form, this was simply wooden logs shoved into the ground vertically to create a wall. Later, these fences would be made from post and rails that may or may not be covered with a wire fencing that is able to keep animals in or out.
- Picket fence – Usually made from wood, a picket fence consists of posts and rails. Nailed onto the rails are pickets, or pointed sticks of wood. This style of fence was very popular for a hundred years or more in the US, especially in suburbs. They were often painted white and would keep small children and pets in and keep people and animals from simply entering the yard.
- Barbed wire fences – In vented in the 1800’s, barbed wire is two or three long strands of wires with twisted barbs intertwined at regular intervals. The bard have sharp points, discouraging livestock from going through the fence. Barbed wire is most popular in agricultural applications where cattle or horses need to be contained. The wire is strung between posts that are set in the ground at regular intervals.
- Chain link fence – Made from metal, chain link fences are made from an interwoven pattern of wired that creates only small squares through which air can flow. The design is sufficient to keep most people out or in unless they have wire cutters. Chain links is used when a homeowner wants to maintain privacy and it’s very popular with prisons and government installations.
- Closed board fence – This is often bought prefabricated. The fence is constructed from horizontal rails to which boards are nailed close enough together to prevent sight and even sound. This type of fence is secure, inexpensive and simply DIY project.
- Split rail fence – In this type of fence, the rails are placed directly on top of each other, usually in a zig-zag pattern. This was popular in parts of the country where digging post holes was difficult. The wooden rails simply laid on the ground and on top of each other, creating a semi-solid fence
- Electric fence – This is a wire fence that is powered with electricity. The fence itself can be smooth wire strung between posts. The electricity delivers a jolt to animals that touch it.
- Razor wire fence – This is coiled wire that coated with razor shape barbs. This is used as a fence in place a high security fence is needed quickly; one can simply grab one end and the fence uncoils making a nearly impassably sharp and dangerous fence. It’s often fastened to the top of chain link fence to discourage intruders from climbing over the fence.
- Woven wire fence – This is fence that’s made from chicken wire or sheep wire. It consists of wire that is thin and sharp. It’s woven together into a pattern that is too small for the animals in question to pass through.
To get you started thinks about types of fencing, this article on privacy fencing is very informative.
What Types of Fence Do you Want or Need?
The type of fence that you need is going to be based in what you want it to do.
Privacy – If you want to keep your house safe from prying eyes, a wooden closed board fence will be a durable and inexpensive choice. Most often, this type of fence is used around the backyard, especially where there is a pool. It will keep people from seeing and from unwanted visitors, animals or children, from falling into the pool.
Aesthetics – If the goal is to create something lovely that enhances the curb appeal of the house, there are several options. For a country-style home, a rail and post fence or a split rail fence looks appropriate. I will lend a rustic farm look to the house. In a suburban situation, one might choose a picket fence. This will complete a look that is classic Americana, looking like a small town home.
Security – Fences’ first function was security, so there are a large number of options. In its simplest form, a chain link fence is significant deterrent. It can be climbed, but only the most determined person would try. From there you can add barbed wire or razor wire on top and you can even electrify it. The average homeowner wouldn’t choose these options simply because you risk making your home look like a prison.
Retro styling – If you want a very rustic look, you can simply use field stone a pile it into a wall. You can also use river rock, more rounded and smooth, and mortar it into a fence. This type of wall can also be made from brick if that seems to fit the home’s style better.
DIY or Contractor
Deciding whether to put in your own fence or to hire someone to do it for you is very much a matter of time and talent.
In its simplest forms, a fence can be just rails of wood stacked together. This requires gathering or buying the rails and putting it together the fence.
For a chain link fence or even a picket fence, it might be wise to put the posts into concrete. This might be something that a contractor can be most useful for. It’s not very difficult to do, however, so even the most inexperienced homeowner can learn to put the posts into the ground.
If you need to make sure that your home is secure or that your privacy fence is put up correctly, it will be wise to choose a contractor to do the work. They can ensure that the posts are completely vertical and that the fence is attached properly. If you are planning to electrify a fence or include razor or barbed wire on it, you will need a contractor. They can put the fence up and make sure they don’t hurt themselves.
Considerations for Hiring a Fencing Contractor
The simplest way to find a contractor to help you install a fence is to use the search function on QualitySmith.com.
Once you have found a contractor that you think might be right for your needs, there are some things to ask for and look for:
- Ask for their license number, their liability insurance info, and their workers’ compensation information. Verify that all of these things are current and paid for. Without them, you can be opening yourself up to liability or fraud.
- Look online for reviews. Remember that it is the happiest and most miserable customers who leave comments. Look for positive and negative trends. Make sure that you ask about anything that concerns you.
Fences for Building Home Value
A beautiful fence, whether it’s just decorative or for security or privacy, can add a great deal of value to a home. Make sure that you purchase a fence that is appropriate (you don’t need razor wire in a quiet community) and have it installed properly. If it needs to be painted, be sure to keep it neat and up to date.