How Do I Choose My Fence?

There are several factors that need to be considered when selecting a fence for your property. This guide will help you focus on what items are most important to you for your fence selection.

Why do you need a fence? What is the application?

The most common reasons most people find themselves looking to purchase a fence are:

  • Additional Privacy
  • Better Security
  • Containment of Pets and/or Children
  • Installation of a Pool / Pool Safety
  • Adding a Decorative Element to the Landscape

The application and proposed use of the fence will help determine the types that are best suited for your needs.

Choose the Fence Material

Basically there are five types of materials used for fencing – chain link, wood, PVC, aluminum, and steel. While chain link and wood fencing are the most popular due to their low cost, ornamental fences made from aluminum or steel are perceived as being “high-end” products in the marketplace. PVC fences cost about the same as metal ornamental fences, but are generally viewed as cheaper products since they are made from plastic rather than metal.

Each of these materials has primary advantages and disadvantages:

Material Advantages Disadvantages
Chain Link Cost, cost, cost Appearance
Wood Natural appearance can be customized Maintenance, limited life
PVC Long lasting, no maintenance Not as strong as metal, can crack in cold weather, limited
Steel Ornamental appearance, strength Can rust even if galvanized, hard to replace damaged
Aluminum Ornamental appearance, no maintenance, lifetime warranty Bending and dents possible if proper grade is not used.

As long as you are not looking for a privacy fence, you will find that aluminum ornamental fences offer a better cost/benefit ratio than other fencing materials. While the initial cost may be higher than chain link or wood, a Jerith fence will last longer (Guaranteed for Life!), look better over time (no rust!), and is maintenance-free (no repainting or rotting).

Choosing the Height

The height of the fence is usually determined by the reason you need a fence and your local building codes. For privacy, your fence should be at least six feet high otherwise almost anybody walking by could look right over the fence. The same logic holds true for a security fence. A height less than six feet tall makes it very easy for an adult to climb over the fence and enter your property.

For a pool fence, building codes usually have minimum height restrictions to prevent young children from gaining unauthorized access to the pool area. In general, these codes require at least a 48” tall fence with 45” between rails and less than 4” between pickets for an ornamental fence. Our most popular pool fences are actually 54” tall, but we offer styles that can meet most pool codes in 48”, 54”, 57” and 60” heights.

If you just want to add a decorative fence for your yard, it will tend to be a little shorter so it is easier to see over. A 36”, 42”, or 48” height is most common for this application. Shrubs and bushes may grow taller than this to allow the fence to serve as an attractive element in your garden.

The trickiest height to choose is one to contain pets in your yard. 48” high is probably the minimum height that makes sense. Many large dogs can jump over a fence this short though, so you may need to increase the height to 60” or taller to keep your dog in. For smaller dogs, the height is not as important as the spacing between the pickets (vertical members). If they are too far apart, your dog may just squeeze through the fence. In most cases, there is no way to change the spacing of the pickets after the fence is installed, so make sure your dog won’t fit through the fence before you have it permanently installed.

For children, keep in mind that no matter what the height of the fence is, children are smart enough to move chairs or toys over to the fence to climb over it. And, any gates will make it easy for a child to eventually get out of the yard. Place the latch as high as possible to keep it out of reach for younger children.

Choosing the Color

Do you want your fence to blend in with the surroundings or stand out as an accent to the landscape? A White fence stands out more than any other color, while Green blends in almost seamlessly with the grass. Black and Bronze are our most popular colors though. Most people imagine a traditional wrought iron fence, which is what our designs try to capture, as being Black. Our textured Bronze color is a very nice accent color to a variety of stucco, brick and stone used on many homes.

Choosing the Grade of Fence

Hopefully you have decided that a Jerith aluminum fence is the way to go, so we’ll just focus on our fences for now. Jerith fences are available in six grades, ranging from an economical alternative to our heavy industrial product. You can download a complete conversion chart here.

  1. Liberty – Our least expensive offering. Limited in styles, colors and heights to our most popular combinations, Liberty is very similar to the fences we first offered over 50 years ago. The sections are about as strong as most other manufacturers’ standard residential aluminum products.
  2. American Series – Also has a limited selection of our most popular designs. American Series is unique because of its 1” x 5/8” picket, which looks more substantial than a 5/8” square picket. The rails and posts are the same as Liberty, but the pickets are stronger.
  3. Residential – Our best-selling line of fence! The widest variety of heights, colors, and styles are available in Residential Grade. Uses a patented hidden fastener system which will not loosen over time. Sections are substantially stronger than Liberty or American Series products.
  4. Aero – This grade offers a few features not commonly found in aluminum fences. All of the aluminum extrusions have rounded edges to soften the corners which are typically 90 degree angles.  Plus, Aero also uses a rectangular 1” x 5/8” picket for a more striking appearance. This picket is far stronger than a 5/8” square picket and is a good choice for containing larger dogs or along golf courses. Available in 6′ or 8′ long sections.
  5. Regency – Like Residential, it uses our patented hidden fastener system. Regency styles all have a “dropped bottom” appearance where the pickets do not extend below the lower horizontal rail. Significantly stronger than our Residential grade and ideal for commercial or high-end residential usage. Available in 6′ or 8′ long sections.
  6. Industrial – The name says it all. This fence is meant for high traffic areas, commercial swimming pools, and higher security applications. Also very impressive when used on a residential estate. Available in 6′ or 8′ long sections.

For a detailed chart detailing our fence dimensions please see the Aluminum Fence Specification Guide.

Choosing the Style

Now comes the fun part! Once you have a general idea of the height, color, and grade of fence that you need, you just need to pick the style that you like best. The style selection is pretty straightforward (download and print the complete style guides at the bottom of this page for easy reference). Decide if you want one of the Exposed Picket (EP) styles, Covered Picket (CP) styles, or if you need narrower spacing for pets, choose one of the Specialty Design (SP) styles.

how-to-fence styles1

There really isn’t a “bad” choice. It is all personal preference. Some people would rather have a simple two rail design (CP-6 above), while others like the more ornate appearance of our Concord style (EP-4 above). Choosing a design that has finials on the pickets will be a little more expensive compared to our typical spear point, however the finials give a custom-made appearance that can really accentuate your fence.

Finish It Off

You may want to consider adding options to give your fence a more distinguished look, such as arbors, arched gates, or scrolls. Many of these options can be added at a later time if your budget does not permit you to get everything you want at first. Or, many people place their fence between brick or stone columns for a very impressive appearance. Remember, the fence can last as long as your house, so make sure it adds to the beauty and charm of your property! You can view a number of our available accessories here.