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Good fences

Wood still the standard but other options exist

By: By Lucy Haines

  |  Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2014 06:00 am

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  • COLOUR OPTIONS – Chain-link fences come in a variety of colours.
    COLOUR OPTIONS – Chain-link fences come in a variety of colours.
    Supplied photo
  • VINYL OPTION – Vinyl fences are an alternative to wood for those who want complete privacy.
    VINYL OPTION – Vinyl fences are an alternative to wood for those who want complete privacy.

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You’ve heard the saying: good fences make good neighbours. That can be true, for most everyone wants privacy in the backyard – a secure place for the kids to play and the dog to roam safely, not to mention a sealed-off sanctuary to putter in the garden in your pyjamas, if you so choose.

“People want fences to keep things in or keep things out,” says Jim Tkachuk, residential sales spokesperson for Phoenix Fence.

The Edmonton-area company, best known for chain-link fencing, also does big business in elegant, ornamental fencing and many colours of vinyl fencing. All can provide the privacy and security that most homeowners want.

But what kind of fence to choose, and at what cost? New neighbourhoods sometimes have architectural guidelines dictating the material used and where a fence can be placed. And anywhere in the city, the St. Albert land use bylaw likewise dictates where on the property a fence can be placed, and at what height.

Though rare these days, a front fence can only be one metre high, but a side and backyard fence can be 2 metres (just over six feet) high. A fence can’t be placed on city property, so homeowners need to know where property and utility lines run. While homeowners generally don’t need a permit to build, that’s not the case for corner lots, where traffic sightlines can be impeded. In those cases, a permit is required.

St. Albert Rona store manager Marcel Podlosky said fences are one do-it-yourself project that those with a bit of building knowledge can take on, saving money on installation costs.

“Costs vary, depending on the material chosen. By far, the most common is pressure-treated 1x6x6 boards. Labour is expensive, so it’s considerably less costly to build your own,” said Podlosky.

“DIY wood fences are 95 per cent of the store’s fence business. Look at traditional St. Albert neighbourhoods that are five, 10 or 15 years old. You mostly see six-foot high side and back fences, and they’re usually wood,” he said.

Rona sells fence packages with posts and boards, and reminds customers about fence essentials – consulting with neighbours about where a fence will be placed between two yards and using the Call Before You Dig service, which will identify where gas and electric cables are on the property.

At Phoenix Fence, business is evenly split between do-it-yourself product sales, and fully-installed fences. The most popular and economical here is galvanized steel chain-link fencing, though even chain link has become stylish over the years, with posts, chain link and privacy slats available in black, white, brown and green.

For 100 per cent privacy, the trend is toward vinyl fences, which are available in a variety of colours and even a faux-wood look, said Tkachuk.

“But ornamental (wrought-iron-style) remains an elegant choice too,” he said.

“No matter how good the wood is, it deteriorates over time. Our products are no-maintenance, with warranty – many homeowners want to have a fence installed and never worry about it again.”


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