One of our goals includes assisting all DIY aficionados to install an aluminum fence so that they can create the perfect outdoor environment for their homes. We also want to help the small, independent fence contractor satisfy his or her own clients so that anyone who wants a fence gets the most expertly built fence possible.
Over the years, our fence experts have responded to hundreds of questions regarding aluminum fence installation. Based on those questions, we’re happy to provide you with our most popular tips so that you know how to install an aluminum fence without the hassle!
1. Check your local and community zoning laws and codes
All states, cities and communities require varying regulations regarding the types of fences allowed and limitations for fence installation. Before purchasing your materials, do your research and make sure your fence project meets any height limitations and boundary requirements. Avoiding these is a costly mistake, as you don’t want to have to remove a fence that you’ve spent significant time and money to create.
Some areas allow for fencing on a property line, others may require an offset. If you have any doubts about your own property lines, have a survey done to identify your property lines. In addition to verifying your local zoning laws, you also need to follow the guidelines with your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) as they may offer strict guidelines on the types of fence (and in some cases, colors) you can build. Many require pre-approval even before you build!
2. Call before you dig
Always call Miss Utility before you dig! DIYers tend to overlook this step and this is the one thing that can produce major headaches and tons of extra money during installation. Most aluminum fence posts need to have one third of their height underground; gateposts on aluminum fences should be a minimum of 3 ½ feet deep. You don’t want to run the risk of hitting pipes or wires underground, so always make this one important call. In addition to not hitting utilities, you do not want your fence directly on top of them. If the local utility company needs to perform repair work, you fence will be torn out and you will need to replace it on your own dime!
3. Validate what type of rating you require for your aluminum fence
Most people are unaware that there are three ratings for an aluminum fence. Make sure you pick the appropriate rating for the type of fence you need, 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 want to install an aluminum fence and what grade you need. For example, if you have highly active pets, horses or teenagers who play sports in the yard, a delicate aluminum fence may not be the best option.
4. Do a mock-up of where your fence will go
Before you even order your aluminum fence materials, do a mock-up of your fence’s layout prior to purchasing your materials. Powers Fence recommends using inexpensive orange string and staking your corners so you know exactly where your posts will go.
Missing this step means that you may not order enough materials or you learn after you’ve started your installation that there’s either a huge tree or a lot of rock to remove, which means lots of extra time and effort to finish your fence installation. Planning affords you the ability to pre-empt any problematic gaps in your installation or odd section alignments.
5. Stake your posts in advance
Always insert a stake for each fence post and measure your spacing as accurately as possible. Simply eyeballing 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 stake needs to denote the actual center of the fence post, so knowing your post measurements ahead of time reduces the opportunity for having to rework your fence configuration. You need to avoid mixing and matching your posts. Aluminum fence posts are pre-punched, and designed to be corner pieces, in-line posts, or end (or gate) posts.
6. Start with your gate posts
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 you install an 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 gate posts 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.
We recommend attaching fence gates over 96″ to posts dug to a depth of 48″. Smaller gates may let you get away with only 42″ in depth.
7. Anchor your aluminum fence with concrete
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 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 you install an aluminum fence. Cutting corners or trying to rush the process may seem tempting, but don’t do it. Yes, you may need to wait up to a week 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 have to redo either significant sections of it, or-in the worst case—the whole thing!
If you follow these tips, you can expect an easier installation effort. If you still have questions, you can always call us at 855-469-5421.