DIY Fence Installation Mistakes

DIY Fence Installation Mistakes

A new fence -  it doesn't seem like it will be too difficult to complete on your own. You drive to the hardware store and get your materials - posts, pickets, rails, nails, but what now?

The installation itself can be intimidating if you are not experienced with this type of work. Questions swirl around in your head, and you begin to doubt yourself...

But the doubt can stop now! At Paramount Fencing, our #1 goal is to EDUCATE the customer. We have buyer's guides for any fencing material. We have advice, Q&A's, and of course- our support.

 

Take a look at some of the most common DIY Fence Installation Mistakes, and if you still have questions or need help, give Paramount Fencing a call. We are here for you.

1. Not Knowing Local Building Requirements

Know your municipalities building code prior to beginning an install. Research setbacks, easements, and fence requirements. Check if you have an HOA- many times they only allow certain styles of fence to be installed. All of these factors will need to be taken into consideration when applying for a permit. Building a fence that is not permitted and does not meet building requirements can result in fines, or need for a full replacement.

2. Ignoring The Style Of Your Home

Homes are built in different styles- Victorian, Ranch, Colonial, etc. Know your home's style before committing to a fence style. Take a look at your yard, do you have landscaping and lawn ornaments? Will those match the new fence? You don’t want to install a fence that will clash with the current style of your home.

3. Blocking Views

Many people want privacy fences, but end up disappointed when they can no longer see the lake or wildlands they just blocked. Be sure that you want to block those views before installing a fence. Blocking a neighbors view can also cause issues if you live within an HOA.

4. Incorrect Installation

Remember, not every fence is built the same. Fencing techniques used in the Midwest are very different than the techniques we use in Florida. Be sure to know your land when installing. Installation techniques differ based on geographical locations as well as fence materials. Learn how to set your posts, the posts are where most of the strength for your fence comes from. Check out our Buyers Guides for more information on fence materials.

5. Lack Of Planning

Know where the fence is going before you begin your installation. By this time, your permit should have already been submitted and approved. Be sure to follow the plans you drew up for the permit. Call 811 to have the utility lines in your yard marked.

6. Using Budget Materials

Using cheaper materials may initially save you a few bucks, but will cost you more in the long-run. Cheaper building materials are often lesser-quality or are not pressure treated. A budget fence may last a few years, but a fence built right using quality materials can last up to 20. You get what you pay for.

Should I Set My Wooden Fence Posts With Concrete?

QUESTION: I’ve heard both sides of the story for using cement on fence posts. How do I know which is correct? Cement with an upward slope to hold the post or no cement due to the rotting of the post?

ANSWER: Concrete or no Concrete is a hot topic. It doesn’t matter if the fence is in California, North Dakota, Taxes, or New York, their answers revolved around three different factors: (1) Geographical Location, (2) Environmental Conditions, and (3) Leverage Ratios versus External Force.
Based on these three factors, the answer should be simple; but it is not. It is as complicated as the Shakespeare quote: “To be or not to be…” That answer is complex and possesses endless meanings just like the use of concrete.

For example, let us examine the reference in the question, “Cement with an upward slope to hold the post.” On the surface, it seems like the company’s response makes sense. One would think, It could prevent the post from being pushed up or down or left or right. The realistic side is the upward sloping (Doming) of the concrete is a common practice in cold weather climates that experience sustained hard freezes. It is this practice of upward sloping or doming of concrete that prevents the permafrost from pushing the post upwards, ultimately disturbing the registry of the fence.
But permafrost does not exist in Florida. The upward sloping of concrete on a post is nothing more than a marketing ploy or way to get a customer to spend more. We have seen this time and time again, and believe me, Florida Fence companies can get creative. My personal favorite was the $5.00 cement collar which is very similar to upward sloping. It is less than one pound of wet mix concrete spread in a circular manner around the base of a post. It’s a big moneymaker if you understand (1) 60 lbs bag of concrete only costs $3.45 from Lowe’s.

Now let us address the second part of your question: Concrete and posts rotting. At the AFA National Convention, I heard a lot of theories as to why posts with concrete rot, but only one made the most sense. “In my state, the problem is farmers think they are fencers and fencers thank they are farmers,” said the owner of a third-generation fence company from Upstate New York. It sounded silly as I listened, but then he got technical. I soon realized he had a point, a similar point that Custom Fence Orlando and Paramount Fencing have expressed for 14 years. Everyone in Florida knows how to install a fence, they just don’t understand what they are installing. Moreover, it is not the concrete that rots the post, it is the fence company’s lack of knowledge. So let’s get technical.

WHY DO WE RECOMMEND NO CONCRETE?

This is Florida. We’re in the swampy South- not the Midwest, not the Pacific Coast, not New England. We receive about 53.19 inches of annual precipitation a year. The majority of that precipitation occurs in a six-month span, so the question becomes where does all that rain go? The answer is it seeps downward towards the water table, which creates a normal groundwater level, just below the land surface. Depending on the geological composition of an individual’s property such as sugar sand, Florida Pan Dirt, clay, or limestone–the normal underground water level can be found within 12 inches of the surface during the rainy season and 6 feet in the dry season.

Understand, wood is no different than a sponge. If one end of a sponge is placed in water, it will eventually suck up the water saturating it whole. Unlike the sponge, water cannot be easily removed by simply squeezing or ringing the lumber out. In order to dry, wood needs 30 days of complete and aired like conditions. Neither occurs when a post is buried in the ground and surrounded by concrete. Dirt is a natural absorbent and will become the posts best hope. All concrete does is trap the residual moisture that was soaked up and creates a breeding ground for fungal decay which creates living organisms called rot.

Rot is s hungry/hangry living organism. It exists and feasts on a wood posts in a zone approximately 4-5″ above ground level and 7- 8 inches just below ground level. Pressure-treated or not; fungal decay will eventually win because all it needs is a food source, moisture, oxygen, and the perfect temperature.

The purpose of pressure treating is to make the lumber rot-resistant, not water-resistant. As a result, pressure-treated lumber will still absorb and shed moisture which leads to expanding and contracting of the post. In a nutshell, the lumber will twist, crack, bend, cup, and ultimately destroy itself. It not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

So how do you limit fungal decay and living rot? It’s simple science that has been studied by major universities such University of Florida IFAS and organizations such as the American Society For Microbiology. Fungal decay is not a new topic. Science can now map the DNA of different species of fungal rot. As earlier discussed, rot is a living breathing organism that needs three key ingredients: moisture, oxygen, and the perfect temperature. So if you want to minimize the rotting of wood posts in the State of Florida, the answer is simple. Protect the post 4 inches above the grade and 10 inches below the grade: A.K.A the zone. Protecting the zone will assist in eliminating one or two of these key factors. Remember, fungal rots needs all three to thrive.

SO HOW DOES CONCRETE HELP ELIMINATE THESE THREE KEY FACTORS?

It does not. Overall, concrete does eliminate direct contact with the soil underground; however, the pressure-treated lumber expands and contracts with moisture. When it does, a 16th-inch gap usually develops between the wood post and the concrete. It sounds like a small and irrelevant gap, but so is dirt and microbes which are the building blocks of fungal rot.

Each week landscapers and weedeaters blow around small particles of dirt and organic matter. Fiber eating fungus develops and eats the decaying matter. Then comes the rain, or the irrigation system. That water finds the gap. The bad stuff seeps downward right into the “Zone”. Mix in some oxygen, the moisture from below, the fact that concrete holds a constant temperature and moisture, and those wood posts are going to prematurely rot. No exceptions. Concrete simply does not protect the “Zone.” The only exception would be to use a post that is pressure treated with UC4B which is meant for use in stagnate water but the pressure-treating only works as long as the chemicals remain. Chances are you would not find UC4B treated post on the shelf at the local lumber yard or home improvement store. All they normally stock is UC4A which is meant for a rapid watershed. UC4A is just cheaper to bring to the market.

SO WHY DO FENCE COMPANIES US CONCRETE ON WOOD POST IN FLORIDA?

It’s not to prevent rot. Most use concrete to create leverage. The main reason is the post length of choice for fence companies is often a 4″ x 4″ x 8′. As a result, the fence post is only two feet in the ground on a six-foot in height wood fence. Hence the use of concrete. What they do not realize is if it is the leverage that they desire, then all they need to do is purchase a longer post. After all, a 4″ x 4″ x 10′ is the same cost as 4″ x 4″ x 8′ and a bag of concrete combined.

SO WHAT DOES CUSTOM FENCE ORLANDO RECOMMEND?

We suggest two approaches. The first approach is simple: do nothing. Let dirt, when it is dry, do what it does best–absorb the moisture from the post. Then let the soil’s thermal property go to work as it absorbs the sun’s heat during the dry season. It will assist in creating irregular temperature within the zone. The only that remains is oxygen exposure. Keep in mind, this approach is still vulnerable should we have a wet and muggy year; but overall the post should last 12-14 years. It is the most cost-effective way for Central Florida homeowners.

The second approach protects the Zone. There are several products on the market that can completely protect this “Zone” against the three key factors which contribute to fungal decay. Simply put, the wood post will not long be a food source. These products are commonly known as “PostSavers.” They come in all different variations and sizes, but they can get expensive. Our weapon of choice is a post sever sleeve produced by Postsaver Europe Ltd out of England. It is a unique and cost-effective way to accomplish the mission.
Best of all, PostSavers are cost-effective. Overall, the average cost per foot only increases approximately .43 cents. Considering the PostSaver will extend the life of the post for up to 25 years, that is a small price.

Remember, in the State of Florida we often replace Wood fences every 10-12 years. It’s not because of the runners and pickets. It because the post rots at grade or in the zone. For more details on how Postsavers work visit or Postsaver page or use the link: PostSavers.

Protect Your Florida Fence Against Post Rot With Postsaver Post Sleeves

Protect Your Florida Fence Against Post Rot With Postsaver Post Sleeves

Postsavers: Prevent Ground Rot

Postsaver post sleeves come with a 20-year warranty.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and the Florida Forest Service, rot in hardwoods is extremely common and found in all hardwood types in Florida. Rot is caused by fungi, bacteria, or a combination of the two often found naturally occurring in Florida’s soil. This post rot is them amplified when paired with setting a post in concrete.

These microorganisms can move throughout whatever host they have chosen and can cause damage anywhere if given the chance to infect.

A tree infected with rot poses a liability for homeowners; if a limb were to rot off and cause any type of damage or harm, the homeowner would be liable for those damaged. Rotting limbs also pose a threat to a residential structure, can damage roofs and knock down fences. Rot is best protected against at the ground level using a Postsaver so that the microorganisms never have the chance to infect the host, to begin with.

Postsavers come in 4" x 4", 6" x 6", and 4" x 6" sizes to fit your posts needs.

Normal top soil conditions include microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria that eat away at wood, specifically rotting wood. These pests exist normally within the top 5 inches of soil, but not often deeper due to lack of sunlight/oxygen. When applied correctly, Postsavers protect wooden posts from these microorganisms, thus preventing rot and extending your posts height up to 20 years. Postsavers can be used in many construction applications, most notably fencing and decking posts. Postsavers may also be used for wooden telephone posts and even for trees to prevent rot.

 

Fence Posts: Postsavers can be used on residential and commercial fence installations, as well as agricultural. Postsavers can be used on farm fencing, field fencing, horse fencing, yard fencing, garden fencing, and any other wooden fence installation.

 

Gate Posts: Postsavers used on gate posts protect the largest posts from rot. Gate posts are a fundamental piece of any fencing project and provide strength and stability. A gate with a damaged or weak gate post is subject to damage itself or will not function properly.

 

Wooden Decking: Postsavers applied to wooden deck posts protect against rot and help deck posts remain strong and standing. Rotting posts can make decks non-secure and unsafe. Post replacements on decks are strenuous and expensive, as decks need to be unassembled to access and replace rotting posts.

 

Trees: Postsavers can be applied to saplings or young trees to protect trunk rot. Many young trees are susceptible to truck damage caused by the naturally occurring bacteria and fungi in the soil. Postsavers protect trees from these microorganisms, minimizing the amount of trunk breakage. Postsavers protect in any weather conditions.

 

Utility Poles: Polesavers are also available to protect wooden utility poles from rot. In many areas, including Florida, wooden utility poles are still made use of. Many of these utility poles can be seen downed after hurricanes or even Florida’s afternoon storms, causing damages to property and power outages. Utility poles equipped with Polesavers are protected from rot and are less likely to topple during inclement weather.

Postsavers are a versatile product, able to be used in many different markets:

Forestry: Fencing off large sections of land can help prevent deer and other wildlife from damaging saplings and young trees. Using Postsavers on the fence posts will increase the lifespan of the fence installed. The remote locations of these forests can make re-fencing expensive and difficult.

 

Citrus Growers: Citrus trees are a huge industry in the state of Florida. Already, citrus plants have many obstacles to overcome before maturing to fruit-bearing age including freezes and citrus greening. When used, Postsavers can eliminate another danger and help citrus fruit growers ensure that their saplings are protected from trunk rot.

 

Landscaping: Many landscapers will also dabble in fence installation. Postsavers are an easy way for landscapers to ensure that their fence and plant installations hold up against the harsh Florida rains and do not become susceptible to rot.

 

Farmers: Fence failures can result in lost livestock. Rotting posts can easily be pushed over by livestock. Using Postsavers on farm fence installations can help save money on fence repairs.

 

Fence Companies: Rotting fence posts mean negative reviews and loss of customers at no fault of the contractor. Postsavers prevent against premature rot on fencing posts, resulting in stronger, longer-lasting installations.

Why Postsavers?

Would you like to not worry about rotting fence posts?  Postsavers come with a 20 year guarantee, ensuring that your fence posts will no experience premature post rot. In the event of post damage during the 20 year coverage window, Postsavers will cover the repair or replacement cost.

 

Do you like to save money?  Calling a fence contractor out to repair or replace a broken post can cost as much as $600.00 once the service fee/mobilization fee and materials are accounted for. Requesting the use of Postsavers on wooden fence posts protects posts against premature rot. Post damage is one of the most common failure points on wood fences. Posts needing replacement can cause entire fence sections, and sometimes full stretches, to be taken down and re-installed. Homeowners should expect to pay up to $25.00 a linear foot for these re-installations, as well as a trip ticket fee if the work requested does not meet the minimum footage standard.

 

Do you want your fence protected against inclement weather?   Florida’s storm and hurricane seasons often see many fence fatalities. Wood fences protected against rot with Postsavers are less likely to fall or experience damage due to high winds.

 

Are Postsavers expensive? No! Postsavers start at less than $10.00 per pole, making them a cost-effective alternative to future post replacements.

Interested in Trying Postsavers?

Head on over to The Shop. Paramount Fencing provides Postsavers for post sizes 4" x 4", 6" x 6", and 4" x 6"

Inclement Weather

Inclement Weather

Inclement Weather

Florida has two main weather seasons, a “dry” season and a “wet” season.

The wet season lasts about 5 months and stretches from late May to mid-October. During these months, it’s common to see a storm daily. 61% of Florida’s annual rainfall takes place during this period.

These heavy rainfalls can often delay fence projects- much to the customer and company’s dismay. These delays are caused mainly by 2 circumstances- heavy rainfall and lightning.
During the wet season, it is not uncommon for yards to flood. If the ground conditions are too wet to dig, installations may be delayed.

Lightning is a pretty common cause of fence damage- and damage to the home as well. A lightning strike to a fence can travel to the house. In some cases, homeowner's insurance will pay to cover the damage of a fence. This is why it's important to be sure that your fence is attached to your home. if it's not, pick up an L-bracket from your local hardware store and affix it. Homeowner's insurance will not cover a detached structure.

Florida is the number 1 lightning capital of the United States, accounting for 16% of annual lightning fatalities. Thunderstorms always include lightning, so any time you hear thunder, the installers cannot be working.

While a person outside during a thunderstorm may not be directly struck with lightning, there are many ways they can be struck:
1. Side Flash: Lightning strikes a taller item near the victim and a portion of the strike jumps to the victim
2. Ground Current: Lightning strike travels from the object originally struck through the ground. This method often kills livestock.
3. Conduction: Metal does not necessarily “attract” lighting, but it does provide it a path to follow. Lighting can travel extremely far after a strike. During a thunderstorm, do not touch anything metal, including metal wiring. The CDC has also confirmed that lightning can travel through plumbing, so do not shower, wash your hands, or do dishes during a thunderstorm.

Employees work to OSHA standards, which state that if there is any lighting present, employees need to take shelter. In our case, our installers will get in their cars and wait until 30 minutes past the last clap of thunder heard. Our installers will contact the office in the event of a storm for further instruction. Depending on the radar, they may be instructed to leave for the day.

We at Paramount Fencing understand the frustration of having a fence project delayed- we don’t like it either. But the bottom line is our employee’s safety. No Paramount Fencing employee will be put in a dangerous working condition just to meet a deadline- that is not the type of company we are.

So, we will apologize in advance for any delays as we move forward. Just know that we will work diligently to install your project promptly. We appreciate your patience in this matter.