The Oklahoman – April 4, 2009
Vinyl offers many possibilities for a new fence
By Paul Bianchina
If you’re exploring the different options for new or replacement fencing, one material to be sure to have on your list of possibilities is vinyl.
Vinyl fencing manufacturers have made great strides in recent years, offering a tremendous array of sizes, styles and options.
The overall quality is up, the prices have come down, and competition among the growing number of manufacturers makes it a good time to consider vinyl for your next fence project.
Vinyl fencing is manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), blended with other chemical additives that add strength and protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Unlike wood, vinyl fencing is completely weather-resistant and virtually impervious to rot, insects or other environmental damage.
Another advantage to vinyl is that the color of the fence is created by the color of the vinyl itself — it is completely through the vinyl, as opposed to a surface layer like paint that can chip, peel or wear.
Vinyl fencing still is more expensive than wood, but the lower maintenance expense typically makes the lifecycle cost considerably lower.
Vinyl also compares favorably to aluminum — vinyl has similar durability properties with a lower initial cost — and is typically considerably cheaper than wrought iron. However, you have to want the look of a painted fence, since vinyl fencing materials are currently available only in white, tan and gray.
When shopping for vinyl fencing materials, remember that not all fences are created equal, and you typically get what you pay for.
Carefully compare the manufacturer’s specifications for the thickness of the vinyl, and look at how the components are constructed and structurally reinforced. Also, compare the length of the manufacturer’s warranties, as well as how complete they are and what they cover.
Styles and options
In a sure indicator of the rapidly growing popularity of vinyl fencing, there are an amazing number of styles and options now on the market. From traditional pickets to horse fencing to privacy enclosures, you will probably find a material available to match just about any style of fencing your imagination can conjure up. Some examples include:
• Rail: This is the style that pretty much launched the vinyl fencing industry. Rail fences consist of upright posts that are either square or round, with two, three or four horizontal rails between them.
A variation of this style is the cross-buck, which has a horizontal top and bottom rail and two angled rails between them in an X configuration. Standard rails are rectangular in section, matching standard 2-by-6 lumber, but there are also round rails available that offer the look of a welded iron fence and provide additional protection for horses and other animals that may rub against the rails.
• Picket: Picture any variation of Tom Sawyer’s famous fence, and you’ve got it.
You can get picket fences in a variety of heights, and with pickets that are square, rectangular, round or octagonal, or that duplicate Victorian lathe-turned spindles. The tops of the pickets may be straight-cut, pointed, dog-eared, or rounded on top, or you may choose to cap them with any of a variety of caps from fleur de leis to balls.
• Privacy: Privacy fences typically are 5 or 6 feet in height and consist of solid panels that mimic the look of individual fence boards. There are dozens of board configurations that include traditional board fencing, good-neighbor styles, interlocking tongue-and- groove, and board-on-board styles.
• Combinations: If you’re looking to match a particular fence style or trying to create one of your own, you can combine many types of vinyl fencing. For example, you can top a privacy panel with lattice, or combine two different sizes or styles of pickets.
Installation of any type of vinyl fencing is pretty straightforward and requires only basic carpentry skills, but proper alignment of the posts is critical. Full installation instructions are provided from the manufacturer, so follow them carefully.
Also, remember that there are building codes that apply to fences in certain applications, which may include such things as impact resistance and weight ratings. Be sure to discuss this with your fencing dealer and your local building department, and verify that the material you’re using is correct for your particular application.
Outdoor weather may seem far away, but now is the right time to research options if you want to build a new deck or patio. It’s actually an exciting time for building new decks thanks to new and inexpensive materials that are very attractive and easy to care for. Danny Lipford, host of the nationally syndicated TV show Today’s Homeowner, tells all about these terrific building products, with insider tips on brands, prices and warranties. He shares what he’d pick for his own backyard and which product looks expensive without the cost.
Best Easy-Care Decks and Patios
Patios and wood decks can deteriorate into eyesores or even safety risks if they’re not properly maintained. For home owners who would rather spend their time lounging on their decks and patios than working on them, there are lower-maintenance options…
Plastic-resin composite decks. Man-made composite planks, typically a mixture of polyethylene and fine sawdust, don’t require staining or sealing, just an occasional wash. Early composite decks tended to fade in the sun. Today’s products fare better. The best composites, which also are used for railings, do an excellent job of mimicking the look of natural wood. A very reliable brand name is TimberTech , which has a warranty of at least 10 years.
Cost: The cost of material and installation is comparable to redwood and slightly higher than cedar or fir.
Isser & Associates, Inc. For: Westech Building Products; P.O. Box 567; Mount Vernon, IN 47620 For Immediate Release
Insurance Adjuster Praises Fire Fighting Properties of Vinyl Fence:
Westech Vinyl Fence Acts as Barrier; Saves Pastor’s Home From Grass Fire in Oklahoma “If it had been a wooden fence, and not a vinyl fence, the fire would have been fueled by the wood and spread. And, it would not have stopped the fire from destroying the pastor’s home,” says Roger Rockhold, resident adjuster in Oklahoma for GuideOne Insurance of West Des Moines, Iowa.
Mr. Rockhold was impressed with the fire barrier properties of the vinyl fence that the Sooner Baptist Church in Midwest City, Okla. had installed for the home of its pastor John Coker. “A grass fire had started in a neighbor’s yard, but the fence slowed the fire down long enough to allow the fire department to extinguish the flames before spreading into the pastor’s property. Although scorched and partially needing replacement, that vinyl fence saved us from having a major loss and a lot of money,” he adds.
GuideOne is America’s leading insurer of churches and faith-based institutions, and Mr. Rockhold believes vinyl should become the fence material of choice. “I love the product,” he states. “The vinyl fences I see are attractive, they require no maintenance and certainly provide added protection from fire. As an insurance adjuster, I would definitely recommend vinyl fencing products to my customers.”
The fence, which measures about 400 linear feet, was extruded by Westech® Building Products in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and fabricated by Midland Vinyl Products, Inc., a full service custom design vinyl fabricator with locations in Broken Arrow and Oklahoma City, Okla. –more– Vinyl Fence Acts as Barrier, Page 2 Steve Kelly, co-chairman of the church’s property committee, had selected vinyl instead of wood for the pastor’s fence five years ago because he liked how vinyl fences looked and knew they never needed maintenance. “We spent more for vinyl, but we save a lot of money each year on maintenance,” he says. “There’s no upkeep and you don’t have to worry about painting or staining. You just hose it down to keep it clean.”
He admits he had no idea the six-foot high stockade fence would prove so valuable four years later in stopping the fire and saving the house. “We had no rain for about three months at the end of 2005, and there were a lot of fires in the area,” he continues. “Another neighbor saw the smoke and called 911, but the fire department never would have been able to put out the fire in time before it reached the pastor’s home if the fence hadn’t stopped it from spreading. The fence is still standing, but we’re replacing some of the panels because they show burn marks along the bottom,” adds Mr. Kelly, who had installed the original fence with the help of three other members of the committee.
According to Bill Zell, Sales and Marketing Manager for Westech Building Products, the severe damage to property caused by fires such as the one in Oklahoma, and by recent hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, has called greater attention in the fencing industry to the special advantages of vinyl fencing. “We are seeing a major increase in product awareness and sales in vinyl fence, deck and railing products because homeowners recognize that vinyl is more durable than wood, requires virtually no maintenance and will better withstand the heat from fire and the heavy rains and winds from hurricanes,” says Mr. Zell. He also asserts that as a recognized leader in the industry, Westech has engineered many design elements and performance features into its products to satisfy today’s most discriminating consumers.
Westech’s vinyl fence, railings and deck systems are engineered and manufactured using state-of-the-art formulation and extrusion technologies that ensure its products meet and exceed industry standards. Every shipment of resin, additives and micro-ingredients that come to its extrusion facilities is tested, and every extrusion is inspected for color and gloss consistency, long-term color retention, superior impact performance and dimensional integrity. Vinyl Fence Acts as Barrier, Page 3 Although vinyl fence, railing and deck systems are still in the early stages of growth, Mr. Zell compares their market position today to that of vinyl siding and windows 20 years ago, shortly before that market exploded.
Since 2000, more than half the new homes built in North America have vinyl siding or windows. Westech Building Products is an affiliate of the Westlake Chemical Corporation, a vertically integrated multi-national petrochemical company with more than 40 years in the polymers business and operating 14 manufacturing facilities across North America. For additional information, visit the website at www.westechbp.com, or call toll free 800-464-8614. # # # (June 2006)
ANOTHER REASON TO USE VINYL!
Arsenic threat to soil and groundwater from fences and decking (12 January 2006) Arsenic from treated timber used in some decking, fencing and utility poles is likely to leach into the environment for decades, new research has found, posing a grave threat to ground water and soil. http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=10955&channel=0
Scientists from the University of Florida, University of Miami and Florida International University examined leaching from actual wooden decks as well as from simulated landfills and found that deck wood leached high levels of arsenic into rainwater run-off and into the soil. It also carried on leaching arsenic while sitting in simulated landfills. The studies, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, focused on leaching from chromated copper arsenate, or CCA, treated woods. These woods had been phased out for residential use in the US in 2003 but are still used for utility poles and industrial construction timbers.
Researchers studied rainwater runoff from a CCA treated deck for one year and found that arsenic contamination was 100 times higher than runoff from an untreated deck. In addition, a layer of sand under the deck had arsenic levels 15 to 30 times higher than background levels, while water that percolated through the sand was also contaminated.
“What’s important for people to realise is that arsenic is relatively mobile, so it’s something we have to be concerned about – how to manage this huge stock of CCA wood that remains to be disposed of,” said Tim Townsend, University of Florida associate professor of environmental engineering.
The researchers concluded that by 2000, Florida had imported 28,000 metric tons of arsenic, 4,600 of which have already leached into the environment. They predict that as much as 11,000 additional tons of arsenic will leach into the soil and water from decks and other treated structures over the next 40 years.
“These estimates provide decision-makers with information that helps them decide whether or not CCA-treated wood should go into lined or unlined landfills,” Townsend added. Floridian law doesn’t currently require that construction and demolition landfills be equipped with linings to prevent leaching, a possible solution to the problem.
However, with researchers estimating that between 20 and 50 tons of arsenic has already leached into construction and demolition landfills in Florida before 2000, and an expected increase of between 350 and 830 tons of the heavy metal by 2040, it may be something that state authorities should consider again. The problem of arsenic pollution is not confined to Florida, however.
This week the City of Nogales in Arizona, granted a contract to Severn Trent Services to provide arsenic removal technology to meet new EPA drinking water standards. Total arsenic in well locations at three of the city’s water treatment facilities has measured between 17 and 29 parts per billion, while the new limit is 10 ppb. The arsenic removal systems will be installed during the first few months of this year. David Hopkins