Monday, October 29, 2012

Protect Your Fence from Storm and Wind Damage

Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the Northeast U.S. and, while it may be too late to protect your fence from her wake, it is a good opportunity to share some tips for avoiding future storm damage to your fence.

Here Are 5 Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Fence Against Storm and Wind Damage.


Trim Trees Near the Fence


Don't let your fence end up like the one on the left. The vast majority of storm fence damage we see comes from tree limbs falling on the fence and crushing one or more sections.  In most cases this is easily prevented by removing overhanging limbs.  If the fence is yours, but the tree is on a neighbors property, ask them if you can have the overhanging limbs removed.  In most cases they will agree.  And remember, it's not only hurricanes and/or high winds that can cause tree limbs to fall; many customers over the years have had limbs fall because of heavy snow storms.

Also remove any dead or dying trees near the fence as they are the most likely to uproot and fall during a storm.

Remove Temporary Yard Objects


A stiff wind can make that garden gnome fly as far as Travelocity.  Anything that can get picked up in high winds is a potential threat to your fence, your cars, and your home.  When you know a storm with high winds is coming put patio furniture, trash containers, grills, flowerpots, etc. in the garage or other enclosed area.

In a pinch, you can sink patio furniture to the bottom of a swimming pool, just be aware that it can damage the liner of your pool if done incorrectly.  

Repair Loose Posts and Sections if Necessary


 Loose or damaged fence posts and sections are the most susceptible to high winds since their stability is already comprimised.  Remove and rebury any posts that have started to lift out of the ground due to frost or prior wind damage.  Fix any loose or damaged boards on wood or vinyl fences as they can break off and create a ballistic hazard.

Wind can easily push over a fence when posts have started to heave out of the ground


Use Reinforcements for Vinyl, Composite, and Aluminum Fences


If you live in an area of frequent storms or high winds you should consider reinforcing your posts and rails with wood, metal, or concrete.  If your fence manufacturer offers steel or aluminum reinforcement channels for your posts, adding them at installation will up the cost of the fence, but will reduce the likelihood of wind damage in the future.

Lock Down or Remove Gates


If you don't have a good lock on your gate, use a padlock or chain to secure it.  The last thing you want in high winds is for your gate to start slamming against the fence, or worse, the side of your house.  If the gate is easy to take off the hinges, even better; take it off and store it in the garage until the storm passes.

Have any other useful tips for storm-proofing your fence?  Let us know in the comments section and we'll update this post with them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Westbury Riviera C30R Aluminum Railing: Put a Ring on It


The decorative rings of the Westbury Riviera C30R Aluminum Railing add style and break up the clean straight lines of the standard 3-Rail Riviera.  Available in both 36" and 42" heights, multiple widths, and 10 stunning architectural grade powder coated colors.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

D&D LokkLatch Gate Latches - Choosing the Right Model For Your Gate

D&D LokkLatches are some of the most reliable, easy to install latches around.  Featuring a tough polymer construction and stainless steel internal components, these latches will last a lifetime (as guaranteed by the limited lifetime warranty).

With 4 innovative models, one of the questions that we get asked most often about the LokkLatch is which model to choose for which application.  That's why we've put together this short article on the different uses for each.
D&D LokkLatch Series 2

LokkLatch Series 2 

The LokkLatch Series 2 is a great all-purpose, lockable gate latch for residential use.  The easy installation and functionality make it ideal for privacy and ornamental fences around the home or garden.  The Series 2 can be used on left or right hinged gates and is vertically adjustable up to 1/2" both during and after installation.

D&D LokkLatch Round Post Model

LokkLatch Round Post Model

 The LokkLatch Round Post Model offers all of the same features as the Series 2, but is made to fit round posts with diameters from 1 7/8" x 2 7/8" and gate frameworks of 1 3/8" and 1 5/8" diameters.  A great self latching gate latch for residential chain link security and pool fences.

 

D&D LokkLatch PRO-SL

LokkLatch PRO-SL

The LokkLatch PRO-SL is D&D's high end security lock which combines all of the features of the LokkLatch Series 2 with automatic locking capability and dual re-keyable 6-pin locks.  The PRO-SL is perfect for both privacy and security gates, particularly at commercial properties like condos, apartments, and offices.  The LokkLatch Pro comes standard with external access and can be locked on either side of the gate.  It fits square gate posts up to 6" wide.

D&D LokkLatch DELUXE

LokkLatch DELUXE

The LokkLatch Deluxe is a slimmed down version of the LokkLatch PRO-SL which offers the same security features like dual 6-pin locks and 316-grade stainless steel components.  The main difference between the DELUXE and the PRO-SL is that it has a smaller profile and does not come standard with the external access kit.

About External Access Kits

LokkLatch External Access Kits enable you to open the gate from either side of the fence.  All of the LokkLatches, except for the Pro-SL, open only from the side of the lock (usually inside the fence) unless you purchase an external access kit.

Looking for the right D&D LokkLatch? You can buy any model of the D&D LockLatch plus many other types of latches in our online store.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Creative Fences: The Pumpkin Impaler

Check out this knarly halloween decorated fence in Brooklyn, NY  nicknamed the "Pumpkin Impaler".  The 14 year tradition was started by Jane Greengold, a lawyer and artist that devotes one day each week to public art projects.  Each year at Halloween she, along with family and friends, hand carve 274 pumpkins, place them on the spear point finials of this old iron fence, and then light them up at night.  Apparently it's a big hit with the over 800 local trick-or-treaters.

Photo from today.com article.

It's a neat Halloween Decorating idea, and the fence itself already looks pretty beat up, but please don't ever do this to you're powder coated aluminum or steel fence.  It's just inviting rust and corrosion, and think of the cleanup afterwords.

Read the full story at today.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Outdoor Stair Railing: How to Take the Right Measurements

Your deck is finally finished and it looks great, but you and the fam can't fully enjoy it safely until you get that railing up.  Almost all of the measurements are made, but those darn stairs are the tricky part.  You're not sure exactly what measurements you need to make or how to make them.  Sound familiar?  Don't worry, we hear this all the time; even from professionals.  Measuriing for outdoor stair railing can be tricky.  That's why we've put together the following guide below with step by step instructions to help you get it right.

 

Calculate The Stair Angle

  1. Measure the rise/run of your stairs. 

  • The rise is the vertical distance that your stairs cover.  You can measure 1 step from bottom to top (a) if your stairs are all a uniform height.  If not, measure the entire rise from the ground to the top of the top step (A). 
  • The run is the horizontal distance that your stairs span.  Again, you can measure 1 step tread from front to back (b) if your stairs are uniform.  If not, measure from the bottom edge of the first step to the point on the ground under the edge of the top step (B). 

 

2) Plug the rise/run into an angle calculator.

 

stair railing angle calculator (external site)
Click the screenshot to go to the stair railing angle calculator
  • No need to be overly complicated here and work out the trigonometry ourselves.  There are plenty of free tools online to calculate angles.  Try this one, which can be accessed through the web, or downloaded as an app.  Make sure to hit the angle button before entering the rise & run, then hit calculate.

Calculate The Stair Railing Length 

 

 1) Let Pythagoras Be Your Friend

 

  • In the drawing above, the rise is the distance from the surface of your deck to the ground.  The run is roughly the distance from the spot on the ground where your railing post will be anchored to the spot on the ground under where your top railing post will be anchored.  That's a little different measurement then the rise & run in the angle calculation above.  The reason is that the length of the railing depends on where you set your posts.
  • Remember in high school when you slept through geometry on the premise that you would never use it?  Well, think again.  Calculating the length of your stair railing actually is actually based on a fundamental relationship in geometry called the Pythagorean Theorem, which basically states (in terms of railing) that the squared length of your stair railing is equal to the squared rise of your stairs + the squared run of your stairs, or A^2 + B^2 = C^2. 

    For example,  suppose your rise & run (A & B in the drawing above, respectively) are 40" & 60".

    Then:  40^2 + 60^2 = C^2

    working through this problem gives us the following steps:

    1)  1600 + 3600 = C^2
    2) 5200 = C^2
    3) C = the square root of 5200
    4) C = 72.11 inches

    So the length of stair railing that you need is 72.11 inches.  Which brings us to another important point.  Since most outdoor stair railings come in whole sizes like 3ft., 4ft., 5ft., etc. what do you do when your measurment is between 2 sizes?  The answer is that you probably need to round up to the next size.  In this case though, .11 inches isn't very much and we could probably move our posts closer together by that much and stick with the 72" or 6' railing.


So, that's it.  it might seem like a lot of complicated steps, but it's actually pretty easy once you get started.  Of course, if you need help, you can always email us and we'll be happy to help you.

Once you have all of your measurements in hand, you're ready to order your outdoor railing system.  Check out the fantastic Westbury Aluminum Railing System.  It comes in multiple styles, sizes, and colors and it's easy for do-it-yourself installers.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Creative Fences - The "Hang Ten" Fence

    None
    This fence in Maui is made from over 800 recycled surfboards. And, while we wouldn't really recommend putting this in your backyard in Ohio or Wisconsin, it is a pretty cool way to avoid the landfill.  If only there were a surfboard sized Oz-Post.

    To see more, check out the slideshow at USA Today.
     


    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Getting Lawn Equipment and Garden Tools Ready for Winter

    Waking up this morning and seeing the first frost on the ground was a great reminder that winter is just around the corner. And, while it isn't quite time to put everything away just yet, it is a good time to start winterizing some of the equipment that you aren't likely to use for the rest of the season.  That includes power equipment like lawn mowers and weed trimmers, as well as tools like shovels, hedge clippers, and post hole diggers.   Winterizing lawn and garden equipment doesn't take very long and is a great way to ensure that tools remain usable for years.

    Below are a few tips for winterizing your lawn & garden equipment
    Lawn mowers and other fuel powered equipment
    • Sharpen all blades
    • Dump or run out the old gas
    • Change the oil
    • Grease all fittings
    Shovels, rakes, cultivators, and other tools
    • Soak to soften caked on dirt then brush it off
    • Sand any rust spots & coat metal with cooking oil to prevent further rust
    • Drain and coil garden hoses
    • Store in a dry place like a shed or garage

    Plus: Here's a link to a 60 second radio spot with some more tips from Bob Vila on Fall Equipment Prep

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    A Great Chain Link Fence Guide at DoItYourself.com

    One of the subjects that we've been contemplating writing about is an introductory buying guide to chain link fence to help do-it-yourself installers.

    While doing research on the topic to come up with ideas, we came across this great chain link article from DoItYourself.com which discusses most of what we would have wanted to write about.  In particular, it covers all aspects of chain link, including: wire fabric, framework, posts, fittings, and gate hardware.  It also discusses benefits and drawbacks to various steel gauges and coatings (ie. galvanized, aluminized, and pvc).  All in all, it is a thorough introduction into the finer points of chain link fencing.  So, rather than re-invent the wheel, we'll provide some of the articles key points below and recommend that you read it in its entirety if you are thinking of building a chain link fence.

    Quick Takeaways from the DoItYourself.com article
    • Don't choose a wire guage that is too light because it won't hold up to wear and tear
    • Choose materials that, at the least, adhere to the minimum standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
    • If you want to dress up your fence with color, choose pvc coated wire
    • Match your gate framework and fabric to your fence.
    • Choose high quality fittings to ensure better performance from your fence and gate.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Featured Projects: Delightful Gardens Delights Customers with Great Design and Westbury Aluminum Railing

    Our featured customer projects this month are from Delightful Gardens Landscape Company, a design and build firm that has served Williamsburgh, VA and surrounding areas for over 20 years.  Company Owner Don Newsom was kind enough to share some recent examples of their work with us. Check out the awesome pictures below.

    Project 1: A Low Maintenance Design

    Description: Composite decking materials, PVC trim, and Westbury Aluminum Railing were used to meet the customer's primary goal of reducing maintenance.  He considered PVC railing and composite railing, but eventually settled on the Westbury based on appearance and cost.

     Before:











    After:































    Project 2: A Well Connected Design
    Description: This project was designed by Delightful Gardens to provide a sense of connection between the elevated first floor of the house and the garden below.  Planters and Westbury Aluminum Railing were used to maintain the view of the lake from the deck and from inside the house.

    Before:


    After: 






    Project 3: Creating an Outdoor Room
    Description:  Don and his team used Westbury Railing to provide a sense of space and dimension on the deck without cutting off the view of the adjacent patio and landscape.


    Photos Compliments of:

    Delightful Gardens
    7242 Merrimac Trail
    Williamsburgh, VA 23185
    (757) 345-0123

    If you are a Do-It-Yourself or professional customer that would like to showcase your fence or railing project on our blog, send us an email with pictures and a description of the project to info (at) signetfence.com.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Hiring a Fence Contractor. Tips to Protect Yourself from Scammers.

    It's inevitable.  Every time there's a slowdown in the economy, or a natural disaster, the number of people looking to take advantage of others seems to increase exponentially.  Lately, we've been reading a lot of stories about criminals posing as legitimate contractors, taking payment for fence installations, and then never showing up to do the work.  The vast majority of contractors are honest, hard working people just trying to make a living; but, just like in any industry, a few bad seeds make life harder for the rest.

    Photo from istockphoto.com.
    That's why its so important to know who you're hiring and to take steps, like the following, to minimize your risk. 
    1. Ask for proof of insurace - Liability and workers comp. insurance are required for any above-board contracting company.  If the contractor doesn't have workers comp insurance, you could be liable for any injuries that happen to them or their crew.
    2. Never pay in full up front.  In fact, if you're contractor suggests this...Run!  But, it is common for contractors to ask for half up front and the remainder on completion.  They do this because the materials are usually half the cost of installation and they figure that if you stiff them, at least they can cover that expense.  Depending on the contractor, you may be able to negotiate that down to 1/4 up front.  Remember, the less you pay at the begining, the less risk is involved for you.  However, don't pass on a well respected contractor just because they ask for half up front. 
    3. The best way to find a great fence installer, or any contractor for that matter, is to get a referral from friends and family, or find them through an online review site like angieslist.com or localpages.com.  Often the best contractors don't have big sales teams or spend thousands on flashy advertisements;  they know their work speaks for itself and a steady flow of referral traffic keeps them busy. 
    4. Buy your materials separately.  If your contractor is demanding half up front, order your materials online and have them delivered to your home, so that you are only handing over half of the labor costs.  But be careful, some contractors won't install materials that you haven't purchased directly from them.
    5. Don't automatically choose the least expensive estimate.  Grandma always said that "you get what you pay for".  Often, the contractors that give the lowest estimates are able to do so for a reason.  Either they are using inferior materials, cutting corners in the installation, or lack experience and are trying to build a reputation.  Every once in a while, you get lucky and find a great contractor at the best price.  Just make sure that you've done your homework first.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Our New Clearance Fence Section Is Live

    Our new clearance fence section is now live and we're kicking it off with huge savings on an overstock 209 ft. commercial grade Regis 4233 fence system.  We'll continue to add deals every week, so keep your eyes peeled because we only have a limited number of most clearance items.