Looking for an attractive and durable fence option that offers an elegant way to display your home, add a bit of security and won’t necessarily break the bank on your home improvement budget? Consider aluminum fencing, which offers you a wide array of fencing styles and colors, meaning you can design a unique fence to meet all your needs. However, before you take on the task of installing an aluminum fence post, there are a few tips you should know in advance to ensure a successful installation.
Check Your Local Zoning Laws
All areas are different in the types of fences allowed. You need to make sure that you are within any height limitations and also any boundary requirements. Some locations allow for an aluminum fence post on a property line, others may require an offset. Finally, if you have any doubts about your DIY aluminum fence, have a survey done to identify your property lines. In addition to verifying your local zoning laws, also check with your local Homeowner’s Association (HOA) as they may offer strict guidelines on the types of fence (and in some cases, colors) you can build.
Call Before You Dig
Always call “Miss Utility” before you dig! I cannot stress the importance of this one step, that some do-it-yourselfers overlook and then get into trouble during their aluminum fence installation. Most fence posts need to have one third of their height underground; gate posts on aluminum fences should be a minimum of 30 inches deep. You don’t want to run the risk of hitting pipes or wires underground, so always make this one important call—cannot stress it enough!
In addition to not hitting utilities, you do not want your aluminum fence post directly on top of them. If repair work needs to be performed, your fence will be torn out.
Install Aluminum Fence with its Rating in Mind
Most people are unaware that there are three ratings for aluminum fence. Make sure you pick the appropriate rating for the type of fence you need before your aluminum fencing installation, which could be residential, commercial or industrial in strength. In some cases there is even a ‘heavy industrial’ designation. If you’re not familiar with these grades and want to know more about them, check out Alumni-Guard’s highly informative web site, which offers the Cads and Specs for each rating. Think about why you’re installing the fence and what grade you need. For example, if you have highly active pets, horses or teenagers who love to play sports in the yard, a residential-grade aluminum fence may not be the best option.
Explore Your Fence Run
Make sure you do a mock-up of the fence layout prior to building. We often recommend using inexpensive string and encourage folks to stake the corners to remember where you need to dig your holes for the aluminum posts. Far too often this step is overlooked; resulting in odd configurations and problematic gaps. The last thing you want is to have to deal with during your aluminum fence installation is a last-minute work-around for that huge tree or big rock in your yard because you forgot to properly layout your project.
Stake the Pole Locations
Make sure you designate a spot for each aluminum fence post—typically using paint and making an “X”— and make sure you measure your spacing properly. Simply eye-balling your pole locations means you could make a serious error when it comes time for the actual installation, creating a serious (and sometimes expensive) reworking of your fence’s layout. Your paint mark needs to denote the actual center of the fence post, so knowing ahead of time the post measurements is helpful. You need to also take precaution and avoid mixing and matching your posts. Aluminum fence posts are pre-punched, and are designed to be corner pieces, in-line posts, or end (or gate) posts.
Start with the Gate Posts in Minds
Your installation needs to start with the gate posts. Unlike wood fences, which offer some give and an ability to make alterations during the installation; you have no alteration options when installing aluminum fence since the posts are frequently pre-punched and rails fit snugly into them. Starting with the gate posts avoids measuring problems or odd gate locations.
Aluminum fence also means that your gateposts need to be deeper than other fence posts. Remember that there is a fair amount of weight attached to these posts, so if your hole is too shallow, you can anticipate having to repeat the process of digging and securing with certain regularity over the life of the fence. However, if you do it right the first time, you can save yourself years and money of maintenance.
Aluminum Fence Specialists suggest that gates over 96″ should be attached to posts dug to a depth of 30″. Smaller gates may let you get away with only 24″ in depth.
Concrete and Aluminum Fence
While you can mount your aluminum fence to concrete, there are some things to remember when working with concrete, the first being that you need to properly anchor your fence posts. If you don’t, then the daily wear and tear on the fence could lead to eventual sagging and overall weakening without the proper anchoring.
The easiest way to install an aluminum fence posts to a concrete surface is to use a floor flange for each post. Simply bolt it down into the concrete, insert the post and secure it.
Also, remember to let the concrete dry completely before continuing your installation. Patience is indeed a virtue—especially when installing an aluminum fence. Cutting corners or trying to rush the process here may seem tempting, but don’t do it. Yes, you may need to wait up to three days for the concrete to dry, but that beats having a fence that ends up having a lot of give to it, which will adversely impact the overall performance of the fence and force you to having to redo either significant sections of it, or-in the worst case—the whole thing!
If you follow these tips, hopefully your installation will go well. If you have other helpful hints for DIY aluminum fencing, we encourage you to share them in our comments section.
Ready with your aluminum fence installation? Contact us today and we’ll help you get started!
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