Vinyl Fencing Installation Tips
A Totally Different System
Have you ever installed a wood fence? I have. If a rail is a little long, no problem. Just get the saw out and cut it off. You can't do this with vinyl! Many of the fence systems are preassembled at the factory for a number of reasons. The installation tolerances are tight. Post center to center dimensions must be accurate. Expansion and contraction needs to be accounted for. In other words, this is not a job for the rookie or uninformed.
If you plan to have a vinyl fence installed, be sure your installer is familiar with the product and the fence you choose. Ask for references. Go and visit the job sites. Do it on a warm day if possible. See if the fence looks like a snake or a straight line.
Anyone who lives in a cold climate knows that the ground freezes. Did you know that the frost heave can push fence posts out of the ground just like my son and daughter push those frozen Popsicles out of those plastic wrappers? Many fence installers do two things wrong: 1. They don't sink the bottom of the post below frost depth. 2. The post hole is a smaller diameter at the bottom than the top.
This is a HUGE mistake! Fence post holes need to be wider at the bottom than the top! If you do this, and fill the hole with concrete, the frost will actually help keep the post in the ground. Remember, the ground freezes from the top down. The correctly installed fence post will have to try to push the frozen ground out of its way on its way up. Fat chance.
When you make your fence investment, be sure that every part exposed to the elements is lifetime. This means that any hardware should be stainless steel. Don't settle for less. Hidden steel structural members can possibly be galvanized steel, but make sure it is of the highest quality.
Thinking of tackling that upcoming vinyl job? Well, if you do decide you can handle it, you had better get some written instructions and read them. I'm serious as a heart attack about how close tolerances must be. Not only that, you must constantly think about expansion and contraction. If you install the fencing in extreme weather (very hot or cold), you might be in for a surprise when the weather goes the other way!
You must leave room for the vinyl to move. It can never be pinched. Install it too tight and I guarantee you that you will be taking it apart and doing it over. I heard a story about this just last week at the end of my radio show. A homeowner installed the fence sections into the posts too tightly. The sun came out and....WAVE city!