How to Choose the Right Grade of Aluminum Fence Panels

 

MORE_THAN_MEETS_THE_EYE_greenWe offer aluminum fence panels in residential, commercial and industrial grades. In a nutshell, these grades of fencing are made with increasing amounts of metal. You should consider upgrading if you expect heavier traffic than a typical home might have.

Regardless of the grade, our fence panels resist corrosion and require little maintenance. They are strong and relatively light. Most of our customers save money by installing them on their own.

Differences Between Residential, Commercial and Industrial Metal Fencing

Residential aluminum fence panels are fine for most homeowners. They are great for enclosing yards, swimming pools and other areas around the home. You can add gates for driveways and walkways.

Note that pool fences must meet certain requirements. Avoid issues by checking with your local authorities if you plan to put a fence around a swimming pool.  Pool fencing, however, is available in all 3 grades.

Commercial aluminum fence panels are more substantial than residential fence panels because they contain larger pickets, larger rails and a thicker gauge of material. These panels are designed for areas that have more traffic than a home, such as a retail establishment or the area around an office building. The pickets and the rails are bigger, and the rails are supported by eight ribs for added strength.

Our industrial metal fencing panels are the sturdiest and heaviest aluminum fence panels we offer. They are meant to provide more security for high-traffic areas, such as around schools, hospitals, warehouses, large retail centers and storage facilities.

Additional Details

The pickets on most of our residential aluminum fencing panels are spaced at 3-13/16”. You can purchase some styles with double pickets for added security. Some styles of residential aluminum fence panels have flat tops on the pickets, while others have spears. Finials are also available to dress up picket tops.

You can select a variety of colors. Some colors tend to blend in with the background, while others better define the space. You can opt for ornamental rings or scrolls to add interest and beauty to your fence. One of our most popular options is the dog panel. Available on certain styles, dog panels serve to keep your canine friends on their side of the fence by means of double pickets at the bottom of the fence panels. To enhance security, you can add a security screen, which consists of a rust-free, expanded metal mesh, framed that is welded to a fence panel or gate.

Most commercial fence panels have pickets spaced at 3-5/8”, which is a bit closer than the pickets on standard residential fence panels. You can buy certain commercial fence panel styles with tighter 1-1/2” picket spacing. You can add most of the options available for residential fencing.

For the most security and the heaviest traffic, industrial metal fence panels are the way to go. Most of our industrial fence panels have 3-11/16” picket spacing. With industrial fence panels, you are looking to keep intruders off the premises. With this in mind, you can buy these panels in heights as tall as 10’.   Add speared tops to make it hard for fence jumpers to accomplish their mission. You can also order double pickets, and you can add curved pickets to present a formidable barrier to climbers.

Aluminum Driveway Gate Accessories and Upgrades

We offer various aluminum driveway gates for sale. These add to your property’s privacy and offer a barrier to intruders. You can add various items and upgrades to enhance the operation of your driveway gate.

Aluminum Driveway Gate with Rings, Arch and Dog Panel
Latches

You can choose from several types of latches for our aluminum driveway gates for sale. For basic use, you can’t go wrong with the Lokklatch. This latch is a general-purpose model for use with any of our driveway gates. It’s key-lockable and has a stainless steel tongue. Its polymer latch is quite tough. One great feature of the Lokklatch is that you don’t have to hang a clunky padlock on your gate. The Lokklatch is guaranteed for life.

The self-locking Lokklatch Deluxe makes life easy. Close the gate, and it is secure. You need a key to open it from either side, so it’s perfect when you have a need for heightened security. The latch is highly polished and won’t rust. It comes with a polymer push rod that can be detached, along with a fitting jig. You can get several units that are keyed alike, so you can have any number of gates that all open with the same key.

The ultimate latch is the Lokklatch Magnetic. It has concealed fasteners so that you can mount it to the gate with no exposed hardware. You can adjust the latch in both the horizontal and vertical directions. This enables you to adjust it to account for both shifts in the ground and sagging in the gate.

The handle is designed with ergonomics in mind; you can operate it by pulling and then turning it 45 degrees. The lock is rekeyable, so you can key all your gates the same. You can’t jam the latch’s magnetic mechanism, unlike mechanical models. It fits gates that are either right- or left-hinged, and it closes whether it’s in the locked or unlocked position.

Hinges for your Driveway Gate

We sell several types of hinges. You get two standard hinges automatically with your purchase of a double gate of up to 12 feet wide.

You’ll need a heavy-duty hinge if your double-swing gate is wider than 12 feet. This aluminum hinge is made in the United States, and it comes in the same colors as our fences and gates. With this hinge, your gate will swing either way. The hinge carries a lifetime warranty.

You can get a self-closing hinge that automatically closes behind you. We don’t recommend this hinge for automated gates. It has adjustable tension, is self-lubricating, and is made from polymer that won’t rust or corrode. It’s easy to install and is guaranteed for life.

Gate Wheel for Larger Gates

A gate wheel is useful to support larger gates. This wheel has a sturdy stainless-steel bracket and spring. The polyurethane wheel will travel smoothly, helping your gate to open and close easily, even over rough surfaces. The wheel is swivel-mounted. It’s designed to be attached on both sides. We ship it with stainless-steel screws that make for a solid installation. You can easily turn the wheel around to accommodate gates that open in either direction. The whole assembly comes with a black or white powder-coated finish.

How to Install Aluminum Fence Panels at Odd Angles and on Slopes

You can install our aluminum fence panels almost anywhere, in any shape, on any slope. Our aluminum fence panels are more versatile than any other material in this regard.

Slopes and Stairs

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It’s a snap to install aluminum fence panels on a slope or staircase. You can install an aluminum fence on anything from a mild slope to a tall hill.

If the rise of your slope is no more than six inches per fence panel, you can build your fence with standard aluminum fencing panels. You can use standard, pre-punched posts at corners and ends or in fence runs. You can purchase straight mounts and/or vertical swivel mounts if you’re using your own wooden posts or if you need to connect panels to columns or structures.

For medium slopes, you need rackable fence panels. You can use rackable fence panels with a rise of up to 20 inches per panel. Once again, standard posts will work fine. Optional mounts are available to secure rackable fence panels to columns, structures, walls and wooden posts.

For really steep slopes, we sell heavy rackable fence panels that can handle as much as a 36-inch rise per panel. You must use non-punched, blank posts with these panels along with swivel mounts.

Certain options are not available on rackable fence panels. Ornamental rings aren’t available, and you cannot order dog panels. You can’t order styles 7 and 8 in heavy racakble configurations. While you can rack styles 7 and 8 up to around 15 inches of rise per panel, you’ll have to stair-step them if you have a steeper rise.

Stair Stepping

You can also stair step panels for slight, medium and steep slopes… but not for stairs. Trim any of our fence panels (not gates, gates are welded and framed) on the job site for shorter panels that you can stagger up a hill. You cannot use our prepunched posts for stair stepping; instead you will use blank, non-punched posts + straight mounts and mount 2 panels (or panel pieces) to each post at different heights to enclose this type of boundary.

Curves and Angles

You can install aluminum fencing panels to accommodate most angles or curves. Depending on the extent of an angle, you have two options.

Our pre-punched posts work fine with slight angles. You can just use our prepunched line posts, corner posts and end posts. This will enable you to set an angle of perhaps 8 or 10 degrees, which you can accomplish merely by turning the panel to the desired angle and fixing it to the post. If you remember your high school geometry, you will realize that this is the same as running a fence at an angle of between 170 and 190 degrees.

You’ll need a corner post for angles that are greater than 10 degrees. This is equivalent to an 80- to 100-degree angle. Corner posts are pre-punched for right angles. Just pull your fence panels to the desired angle and set them to the post.

We have swivel mounts for all other angles. For angles up to around 35 degrees on one side of the post, you can use swivel mounts. You can see that using two swivel mounts allows an angle of up to 70 degrees total – that is one big angle! You won’t be able to use end posts in these cases as making all other angles require our blank, non-punched posts + horizontal swivel mounts.

Installing Your Own Aluminum Fence Panels

We design our aluminum fence panels for self-installation. You should consider installing your fence yourself. Get a friend or two to help, and it will be done in no time.

Go For It

Our aluminum fencing is easy for ordinary folks to install because we designed it that way. Our aluminum fencing panels are made to work together as a system. In addition, aluminum fence panels are light and easy to move around. You will quickly master the process, and soon the job will be done.

Our website has an installation manual. Download it and study it for a bit. You will quickly learn the simple process for installing an aluminum panel fence. If you have questions, just give us a call.

You should have at least one person to help during your fence installation. If you like, you can hire someone to do this, and you can even hire a handyman to do the whole job if you really don’t want to tackle it on your own. You certainly don’t need to hire an expensive crew of professionals to erect your fence.

Once you’re confident that you can do the job, measure out your fence runs and order the materials from our website. You can call us instead if you prefer.

Post Installation

Your first task when installing aluminum fence panels is to plan where you want to start.   You can start with a gate or a panel but don’t cement or mount all of your posts first.  They’re typically punched so you’ll want to build the barrier with each panel and post.  It’s actually faster this way.  Posts going in the ground, which is a typical, will require you to do some digging, and you’ll need to fill the holes with cement to secure your posts in place. The exception is when you want to surface mount a fence, such as on a deck or a porch. In this case, you will have to purchase welded plates, and you won’t need to dig any holes.  Instead you’ll need to purchase tapcons or lag bolts based upon the surface material you’ll be building the fence on.

We sell straight and swivel mounts available to be used with non-punched posts (angles, curves, steep slopes and stairs) or if you’re ending (and connecting) direct to a wall or column. Straight mounts are clearly for stair stepping, and horizontal swivel mounts can be adjusted to make angles are curved fence runs. If you’re running a fence up a steep slope or a stairwell, we have vertical swivel mounts.  Pre-punched line, corner, end and 3-way posts can be used for slight and/or medium slopes.  Our normal posts are pre-punched to accept fence panels. We also sell blank posts for racking panels for stairs or steep slopes and for other specific purposes.

Gates Go First

Many customers start their fence installation with the gates. You will set the gate posts and hang the gate, and then you will work out from either side and install one fence panel first, then work yourself outward with two or three panels at a time. Be sure you have proper space so the gate opens and closes easily. After checking the spacing, dig the gate post holes. Then you can place the hinges and attach the gate.

Set your first fence posts on either side of the gate, then insert a fence panel so the rails engage with the slots in the posts. We provide the panel-to-post connection screws you will need. After you’ve installed a few sections, check the alignment. When you get to the end of a run, you can cut a section down with a hacksaw if necessary. This is not hard. You will have to cut notches in this case, but this is a lot easier than it sounds.  We call it:  Trim-To-Fit and it is just one of the benefits of our diy aluminum fence system.

Take it One Step at a Time when Installing Aluminum Fence Panels

Your aluminum fence will protect your family or business, and it will look great for many years to come. You’ve invested in a top-quality product, and now you need to take the time to learn the steps to install it. Start by downloading and studying our installation manual.

Step 1: Contact Utilities and Local Authorities

Chances are your community has regulations governing fence installation. Check with local authorities so you can start off on the right foot. Your community might restrict the height of fences and places where they are permitted, for example. It’s not unusual for a community to require that fences be placed at an offset. This means you must place your fence some distance back from the property line. If that’s the case, you’ll clearly need to know where the line is if you want to obey the law. You need to know your property line anyway. In fact, it’s more important if you don’t place the fence at an offset because that makes it more likely you’ll install the fence on your neighbor’s property. A surveyor can mark your boundaries.
Note that swimming pool fences usually must meet stringent safety requirements.

If you have a homeowner’s association, be sure to check in with them as they typically have rules for fences. These might dictate fence materials, colors and design considerations.

You will likely have to dig post holes for your fence. Be sure to ask your utility providers to identify underground gas and electric lines. You certainly don’t want to be digging your holes and accidentally disrupt utility service. On top of that, even if you don’t do that, your fence will be torn right out of the ground if the utility has to dig after you’ve installed your fence. Whose fault will that be if you didn’t bother to check? Remember that post holes can run as far as three feet down, and gate posts can require even deeper holes.

Step 2: Choose from Three Grades of Aluminum Fence Panels

We sell three grades of fence panels. These are residential, commercial and industrial fence panels. Residential aluminum fence panels are our lightest-duty panels, and they are great for typical homes. Commercial fence panels are more substantial and are made with more metal, with larger pickets and rails. Use them for applications such as retail and light manufacturing, where you will see more traffic. Industrial fence panels offer the ultimate in strength and security. Use these for higher-traffic applications, such as hospitals, warehouses and schools.

Step 3: Prepare for Installation

Before you order your fencing materials, walk the proposed fence route. It’s a good idea to stake the corners and string lines. This will show you if you might have a problem with the planned fence runs. You’ll also notice if something might obstruct the fence route.

Measure your fence runs, mark post locations and then go back and measure one more time. Once you’ve done that, you should be ready to order.

Step 4: Installing the Fence

When it comes time to mount your fence, start with any gates you plan to install. Place the gate posts, hang your gate and work outwards. Stop and check your work after each few panels are installed.

Aluminum Fence Panels Are Good for Business

Homeowners are usually quite happy with our standard residential fence panels. After all, aluminum fences are durable and tough. You can upgrade to commercial fence panels to better protect your business. These panels are made with more metal and they have more tightly spaced pickets. They are more suitable to the higher-traffic conditions encountered in business or institutional applications. For tougher conditions, greater traffic and increased security, use industrial fence panels, which are our heaviest, toughest fence panels. These are great for larger installations, such as hospitals, schools and factories.

Security

You can build a fence for your commercial application from a variety of materials. Aluminum is one of the best. There are several reasons for this.

Aluminum fence panels are not easy to climb. With a large gap between the lower and upper horizontal rails, our aluminum fencing panels offer few footholds to climbers. Commercial fence panels are more secure than residential fence panels due to their more tightly spaced pickets. Some fences, such as those made of wood, may also be hard to climb, but they are more difficult to install and require more upkeep. You can add a security mesh to aluminum fence panels and gates. We weld this mesh to the fence panels and gates at our factory to a frame that is bolted to fence panels.

Industrial fencing panels offer the utmost in protection and durability. You can purchase our industrial fencing panels with curved pickets to make them harder to climb. These pickets open outward at the top at a 51-degree angle, making it tough to climb over. Industrial fencing panels are made with even more metal than commercial aluminum fence panels, and you can buy them as high as ten feet tall.

You can also order fencing panels with spear tops. These make it difficult for climbers, who must now negotiate through an array of sharply pointed, metal picket tops to get over the top of the fence. As a bonus, spear tops look nice, especially compared to the barbed wire you often see in secure fence applications. Your business doesn’t have to resemble a prison.

Double Pickets for Greater Security

You can buy styles 7 and 8 of our aluminum fence panels with double pickets. With pickets spaced this tightly, it’s doubtful anyone will get through. They will also keep some animals out of your facility. Add a dog panel to make sure your canine team members remain inside the fence. We add dog panels to the fence during fabrication at our factory. When we install a dog panel, we put an extra rail near the bottom of the fence. Beneath that, we place double pickets to keep your dogs from squeezing through the fence.

Installation and Maintenance

As a businessperson, you can see the advantages of aluminum fence panels. From a labor perspective, they’re easy to install. They’re light and strong, and they require little in the way of special equipment to erect. Moreover, you don’t need a crew of carpenters or welders. There is no maintenance required, outside of fixing unforeseen damage, and aluminum doesn’t rust. What are you waiting for?

In-Ground Aluminum Fence Panel Installation

If you’re reasonably handy, you should seriously consider installing your aluminum fence panels yourself. If you download our installation guide and study it a bit, you will see that our installation process is simple and straightforward. You can recruit a friend to help for the price of some pizza and soft drinks. Below we outline the process in a nutshell. Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions.

First Things First

Take care of some preliminaries before you order and install your fence. Be sure you know the boundaries of your property. You don’t want to build a fence and then learn it’s on your neighbor’s property. Furthermore, some communities require your fence to be offset from the property line, i.e., set back a minimum distance. A surveyor can determine your boundaries, or you can look at a line plot.

You must contact local utilities to determine the locations of any underground pipes or cables that might lie under your fence. You can disrupt utility service if you dig in the wrong place, and even if you don’t do that, your fence can be removed if a utility needs to dig underneath.

Be sure to also check for any legal restrictions in your jurisdiction and the regulations of your homeowner’s association if your community has one. Associations can have various esthetic issues with fencing.  You can also perform a quick search online for your local building codes.

Stake out the outline of your proposed fence. Run strings between stakes and mark post locations. Make sure it looks good to you and that you see no potential problems with the installation. Measure your fence runs and count the posts. Do it a second time to confirm your counts before ordering from us.

Count everything upon delivery. Call us if anything is missing, and don’t start the installation unless you have everything you ordered.

Tools

tools-ready

Have all of your necessary tools on hand before starting the installation. These should include a post-hole digger, rubber mallet, saw, level, tape measure and a chalk line, or alternatively, stakes and some string. For concrete, you will need a wheelbarrow for mixing, along with a shovel and hoe.

Installation

Determine the clearance your fence will have. This is the distance from the ground up to the fence’s bottom rail. 2 – 3 inches is typical. Check for additional regulations if you’re putting up a DIY pool fence. You may also need pickets spaced no more than 4 inches apart for a DIY pool fence.

Install the gate first, and then work outward with your fence panels, installing each panel as you go.  Do not cement or install all of your posts first.  The size of the hole and the amount of concrete needed will vary according to the post size and your local codes.

Wait for the concrete to harden before you hang the gate. Dig your post holes and install one panel, then check that the fence is running level.  Then, you can setup and install two or three panels at a time.  It’s easy to use the included self-tapping screws to connect the panels into the posts.  You may have to trim a fence panel. This is easy to do. You’ll also have to cut a few notches, but this is remarkably simple.

Factors Affecting Fencing Costs

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The cost of fencing materials varies directly according to three factors. These are the type of fence, the terrain and the fence length. In addition, you must budget for gates, whose style can vary depending on your selection.  A fourth factor would be decoration.  With metal fencing you can go simple or extremely decorative with optional add-ons like rings, finials, scrolls, puppy pickets, gate arches and inlays.  Since most of our customers erect their own fences, labor doesn’t enter into the aluminum fence cost.

Contractor Estimates

If you choose to use a contractor to install your fence, ask for separate estimates for materials and labor. This ensures you can make valid comparisons between contractors. It also helps you to spot less costly materials that may not be top quality. Ideally, you want to compare estimates for the same brand and quality of fencing.

Remember that a more complex design is going to increase your costs. This is true of materials and labor alike. Curved fences can present problems, as can slopes that require racking. This is one area where aluminum fence panels shine. It’s not easy to build a steel or wooden fence in a curved configuration. You have to cut dense materials, for one thing. However, aluminum fence panels are easy to cut, and our swivel mounts enable you to install fencing at almost any angle. Similarly, you can easily rack our fence panels for slopes. Keep in mind that a contractor is going to charge for more labor in either case, and if you self-install your aluminum fence panels, that labor is free.

Factors to Keep in Mind

The site where you install a fence will affect the cost of installation. Here are some factors to consider.

If you don’t know the property boundary, you may need to hire a surveyor to identify it. Skipping this step invites some serious problems. First, you risk building part or all of your fence on someone else’s property. Also, local codes sometimes require fences to be offset a minimum distance from the property line. Remember to contact local utilities to be sure you don’t build your fence above a buried utility line.

Labor costs will go up if the worksite is not easily accessible because workers will have to carry all materials to the site by hand. You may have to prepare the site if it contains structures, rocks, brush or trees that will impede progress.

You will be digging holes for posts, and the type of earth involved can increase the time it takes to do this. Rocky ground is an issue, and so is heavy, wet clay or shallow groundwater. A local contractor is probably familiar with the area, but an out-of-town contractor may not have this knowledge.  Optionally, you can surface mount metal posts with a welded flange on top of an existing hard surface; however, there is an additional material cost for this type of application.

Trees can be problematic for a few reasons. They are obstacles that require either removal or accommodation in the fence design. Either way, they will require additional labor and perhaps materials. Older trees can place roots that cause lots of problems digging post holes. Be sure to tell contractors if they will face these issues.

Installing a fence on a sloped surface can drive up costs. It’s harder to work on a slope, for one thing. Also, the fence must be built to accommodate the surface. However, your aluminum fence cost will basically be the same if you install it yourself. We sell fence panels that are designed for racking for slight, medium and steep slopes, so you will just have to possibly invest a small amount of extra time.

Install an Aluminum Pool Fence Before Warm Weather Returns

You may still be experiencing cool days, but that will change before you know it. Install an aluminum fence around your pool now, and you can start the outdoor season with peace of mind, knowing that your pool area is safe. With a pool fence, you have several types of security. A fence protects you, your family and your guests when swimming. It protects the pool area from intruders when you’re not using it. Finally, and most importantly, an aluminum fence prevents small children from entering when unaccompanied, which can avoid drowning accidents.

Aluminum fence panels are great for pools. Most homeowners can install an aluminum fence without hiring expensive contractors. At most, you will need someone handy with tools, and they cost much less. Aluminum fence panels are strong but light, so they’re easy to work with and sturdy once installed.

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Pool Fence Regulations and Requirements

Pool fences are subject to regulations for safety reasons. In addition, if you have a homeowners association, you may have to deal with its regulations. These typically deal with esthetic issues. Check with your homeowners association along with your local government. You don’t want to build a fence and then learn that you need to alter or remove it because of an unanticipated rule or regulation.

What’s a BOCA?

Pool fencing from greatfence.com meets the BOCA code. BOCA is the acronym for the Building Officials Code Administrators International, Inc. The BOCA code for pool fencing sets out specific criteria to ensure that fencing is safe, and specifically, that it is designed to prevent small children from entering a pool area and risking drowning.

The BOCA code has the following requirements: The height of the fencing and the gate must be at least 4 feet (48”). The horizontal rails on a fence must be at least 45” apart. The point here is to eliminate possible footholds that could aid a child in scaling the fence. The code requires vertical pickets to be spaced at intervals smaller than 4”. This is close enough to prevent small children from squeezing through. The fence’s bottom rail must be close to the ground, specifically 4” or less. The code ensures that gate latches are high enough that small children can’t reach them. Latches must be 4-1/2 feet (54”) from the surface or greater. Any gates must be both self-closing and self-locking. Gates must open in the direction away from the pool.

Aluminum Fence Panels are Perfect for Pools

As you can see, aluminum fence panels have many benefits. Besides being easy to install, aluminum fence panels are quite strong and also light. Aluminum doesn’t corrode, either. This is an important attribute in a pool fence. Moreover, aluminum deals well with temperature fluctuations. It is not too brittle when the weather turns cold, yet it’s strong under the hot summer sun.

Optional Features for Enhanced Safety

Your aluminum fence will be quite safe, but you can make it even safer with the addition of a self-latching Magna Latch gate lock. This has the advantage of being lockable with a key. The self-latching device extends over the top of the fence so small kids can’t get to it.