If you’ve watched home improvement shows that focus on “curb appeal,” you know that a coat of paint or stain on a fence can make a huge difference in the attractiveness of your home. But visual appeal isn’t the only reason to renovate your fence –a worn out enclosure can also put the safety of your home and family at risk.
It’s important to inspect fences, gates and gate hardware around your property to ensure all are in good working condition. Secure fences, with no gaps underneath or between sections, gate hardware that functions properly and with gates that self-close every time, can ensure the safety of the occupants and property in your home, and keep toddlers and pets from getting out into dangerous traffic. They can also reduce your liability from claims resulting from a defective gate.
Weather, from extremes in temperature to ordinary rainfall, can affect gate operation either through the creation of rust, or through freezing and thawing that affects gate alignment. Rusty metal hinges and latches or gate misalignment can lead to gates that no longer close securely, creating conditions that can be dangerous or even deadly if ignored. When was the last time you checked each gate around your property?
Selecting the right gate hardware can easily solve most of these problems. Choose gate hinges and latches that are made of super strong engineering polymers that will not rust, and are adjustable and self-lubricating, requiring little or no maintenance.
Updating your gates so they are self-closing and self-latching, improving the security and overall look of the fence, can be done in just a few minutes with these products.
“In our research, we found that when homeowners consider their fencing needs, rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly was their number one concern,” says Jim Paterson, a senior vice president with a leading manufacturer. “Common gravity latches are inexpensive and function fine when new. However, as soon as rust sets in, these latches no longer close without manual assistance.”
For the fencing itself, rust can present greater challenges. Steel fences and gates, if not protected with an effective sealant such as powder coating, must be periodically repainted with rust-resistant paint to prevent weather-related damage. Existing rust should be removed before painting, and a rust-preventive primer should be used as the first coat.
Wood fencing can be repaired by prying the damaged section out with a pry bar or cutting it out with a handsaw. Try to use the same type of wood as the original, and don’t re-use the original nails. For wood fences, use paint specifically designed for fencing.
On wrought iron or other steel fences, if rust has worn through metal pickets at the ground level creating a large gap that children or pets can get through, sections of the fence will need to be replaced.
“Aluminum or vinyl fencing can protect against rust on the fence itself,” Paterson says, “but the hardware must still be rust-free and adjustable to ensure the gate will be in working order. A quick inspection, and if needed, the minutes spent installing new gate hardware, can help protect your family and property, increasing security and decreasing liability.
“All gates should close and have the ability to be locked, but gates leading to pools or spas have an additional requirement,” Paterson says. “They need to have a child-resistant latch so that young children cannot open the gate without an adult’s assistance.”
For help with all of your fencing needs, contact the experts at Handyman Matters today.