A complete guide to fencing
Are you thinking about installing a new fence on your property? It might be the finishing touch on the building of your new home, or you may be wanting to upgrade your old fence to a brand new one.
Whatever your situation, choosing a fencing solution can be a little confusing and overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to help out with this complete guide to fencing! Read on for everything you need to know about selecting the right fence for your property.
Things to consider when choosing a fence
Before you launch directly into the fence-building process, there are several things you should take a moment to consider. Proper planning will ensure that you don’t risk ending up with a fence that doesn’t suit your needs or budget.
The first thing you need to consider when choosing a fence is why you’re actually building one. What are your primary reasons or goals for building a fence on your property?
Do you need a fence for privacy and security? If so, you’ll need a style that is sturdy and/or high enough to adequately screen off the areas you wish to keep private. If you need to keep pets and/or children enclosed in a safe space, you’ll need to factor this into your considerations as well, choosing the right types of gates and access points for your fence.
You might not need to surround your entire property – instead, you may wish to fence off a certain area, such as a pool. If so, you’ll need to ensure that your fence follows your state government’s laws and regulations for pool fencing.
There are also aesthetic elements to consider. Do you want a ‘decorative’ fence with a pleasant appearance, or do you just need one that gets the job done? (Or perhaps you want the best of both worlds!)
Writing down a checklist of all the requirements you want your fence to meet can really help out when it comes to the next stages in the fencing process.
Type of land that needs fencing
The type of land you are fencing will have an effect on the kind of fence you choose. A flat surface, for example, is more straightforward than a sloped backyard when it comes to fencing. A sloped surface may need additional considerations, such as a retaining wall.
If the terrain of the area you wish to fence is particularly difficult to navigate, you may either need to reconsider the exact location of the fence, or consult with an expert on how best to manage the tricky area.
Be aware that you may also need to check your local council rules, regulations and requirements for fencing. There may be style, height or boundary restrictions in place that you didn’t previously know about. Don’t start building until you’ve checked that your plans are within these guidelines.
The time factor is another important consideration. When do you want your fence to be fully installed? Do you have a time limit or deadline to impose? Or can you afford to wait a little longer for a more time-consuming installation?
Some types of fences take much longer to install than others. For this reason, your proposed time period for the fencing process will have an effect on the type of fence you choose, as well as your choice of installation method (more on this below).
Cost is, of course, one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing the right fence. Most people have an upper budget limit they need to impose on the installation of a new fence. Some fencing materials are significantly more expensive than others, and some installation methods cost more, too.
Working out a budget and deciding on the highest amount you want to spend is essential so that you don’t end up with financial worries. If your budget is a little lower, perhaps consider which fencing materials are cheaper, or which installation methods are less labour-intensive (and therefore less expensive).
Once you’ve thought about all of the above considerations, it’s worth putting some thought into the installation method for your new fence. When you’re choosing a fence type, you must also consider how it is going to be installed.
You basically have two options here: the DIY option, where you install the fence yourself, or the professional installation option, where you hire someone to do it for you. Your decision will come down to a few factors: the type of fence you’re choosing, the budget you have allocated, and your own building skills and knowledge.
If you have never done any building before, aren’t confident that you’ll be able to install the fence yourself, or simply don’t have the time, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job. However, if you do have enough time and know-how, you may wish to complete some of the fencing process yourself to save some money.
Advantages and drawbacks to keep in mind
For every type of fence, there are both advantages and drawbacks. Here are some of the most common things you’ll need to consider.
Some fencing materials are better at providing soundproofing than others. If you’re building a fence mainly for privacy, this is an important advantage to keep in mind when selecting your fence.
For optimal soundproofing, you’d want to lean more towards modular walls or solid materials such as brick, which tend to be better at absorbing sound.
As discussed above, your fence material and style will depend on the land it’s being built on. If there is a slope, some sort of retaining wall will likely be required in order to make the most of your outdoor space and prevent issues such as sliding soil.
If this is the case with your backyard, you will want to choose a fencing style that has retention capabilities. Ideally, your chosen fence will also blend in with the style of your boundary fencing; brick or modular walls are good options here.
Longevity of materials and subsequent maintenance
Some fencing materials may look great, but might not have the long lifespan you’re after. This might also mean that they require more maintenance and upkeep on your part – and if you’re after a one-time fencing solution, that’s exactly what you don’t want!
When considering the different types of fences available (more on that below), you should keep their longevity in mind. Will your chosen material withstand all types of weather and last years without maintenance? Or will it possibly need regular upkeep – and are you willing to carry this out yourself?
These are all important questions you should ask when considering the advantages and drawbacks of particular fence types.
As we mentioned briefly above, the appearance of your fence may or may not be important to you. Some fences are very aesthetically impressive, but don’t offer the security and privacy benefits you may need. Others are more plain, but make up for it with other advantages.
Remember that a fence has the potential to increase the resell value of your property. Keeping its appearance and aesthetic value in mind may serve you well in the future.
Different types of fences
Once you’ve considered all of the above factors, it’s time to take a look at the different types of fences available. There are countless designs and models depending on your requirements, but here we’ll take a look at the most common fence materials and styles you may wish to consider.
Timber is one of the most popular, cost-effective solutions available for fencing. It’s a strong, durable material, and its versatility and classic appearance ensures that it suits most properties and purposes. If you’re building a privacy fence, timber can be installed as solid boards to provide screening; if you’re simply marking boundaries or building for aesthetic purposes, you can also have a wooden picket-style fence.
While it has many benefits, timber does not offer the same retention or sound insulation properties as other fences. And while it can last for a good many years, it will gradually succumb to the weather, often becoming loose or damaged. To guard against this, timber must be treated before installation, but it will also require semi-regular maintenance to keep it looking good and doing its job.
Timber fencing can be difficult to install as a DIY project, so it’s best to hire a professional for this style of fence.
A more high-end option, brick fencing looks very effective. As a solid wall-like structure, it’s the perfect choice for privacy and security, but it can also be combined with elements such as wrought iron for a more decorative effect.
Provided that it is built on a solid foundation, a brick fence requires very little maintenance after installation. It is also an excellent option for soundproofing and noise reduction in backyards or properties.
The downside to brick fencing is that it is usually expensive and takes a while to install. Brick fences can be installed on a DIY basis, but this may take even longer.
Modular walls are a great option for those wanting a high level of privacy and security, but with an appealing, high-end, contemporary design. With their superior finishes, modular walls have the appearance of a rendered masonry wall. They also provide excellent noise reduction.
Modular walls are similar to brick fences in quality and style, with the added benefit of costing significantly less and taking around 1/5th of the time it would take to install brick fencing. There are also several different design options available, so a modular wall is easy to customise for your particular purpose – whether it’s a boundary or a retaining wall, or a pool fence.
However, modular walls will not suit every purpose or property, and are more expensive than some other options such as timber.
Metal fences (usually galvanised steel) are another very popular fencing choice. Solid and strong, a metal fence is a great choice for privacy, security and durability. With proper installation, metal fences are virtually weatherproof and can last for a long time with very little maintenance.
There are usually many colours to choose from, and features such as latticework or panel styles can be customised to your choice, so it’s easy to create a metal fence that suits your home. Compared to other materials, metal fences are also relatively cheap.
Metal fencing is usually installed by a team of professionals, but it is possible to choose the DIY option, provided you have some assistance and the proper instruction.
Another popular, low-maintenance option, aluminium is a durable material for a fence, and is especially effective for purposes such as pool fencing. Usually consisting of open vertical railings, aluminium fences can be installed in a range of styles and colours. Their simple appearance allows them to suit any environment.
There are several DIY installation options for aluminium fencing, and provided that the proper care is taken, an aluminium fence will be reliable and long-lasting. However, aluminium fences are not the best choice for privacy, security or soundproofing, as they aren’t solid or particularly high.
Larger homes, especially those requiring higher security, are often surrounded by wrought iron fencing. This style is quite visually striking and decorative, and can provide an impressive boundary marker for your home.
Due to the material and the more elaborate, ornamental design, wrought iron fences are often quite expensive to install. Furthermore, in order to keep a wrought iron fence looking as beautiful as possible, you’ll need to be willing to carry out repainting and minor repairs, usually every few years.
However, a lot of fences that appear to be wrought iron these days are actually steel or aluminium, which is often painted to have the same effect as true wrought iron. If you want the visual effect of a wrought iron fence, but want to save a little money, perhaps choose a steel or aluminium option in the style you’re after.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to finding a fencing solution that suits your needs, but keeping all of the above in mind will make things a whole lot easier!
Written by Claire Bradshaw