GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGH­BOURS SO BUILD IT RIGHT

Take into con­sid­er­a­tion prop­erty lines, the lay of the land and wood pro­tec­tion

Edmonton Journal - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES Watch Mike Holmes in his new se­ries, Holmes: Buy It Right on HGTV Canada. For more about Holmes, visit makeitright.ca.

A new fence can give your yard a nice look while of­fer­ing some much-needed pri­vacy and keep­ing your chil­dren and pets safe and se­cure while they play in the back yard.

Up­grad­ing or adding a fence doesn’t need to be a com­pli­cated pro­ject, but be­fore you break ground, you need to do your home­work so you don’t get fenced in with a struc­ture that you’ll need to tear down be­cause it was built in­cor­rectly, or in the wrong spot.

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF YOUR YARD

A sloped land­scape can add some nice di­men­sion to your yard, al­low­ing you to get cre­ative with your space. But what do you do when the edges of your prop­erty line have an un­even slope and you want to build a fence? Well, for that, you’ve got a cou­ple op­tions to think about.

For mi­nor slop­ing, you can in­stall the fence in a raked pat­tern. In a raked fence, the rail of the fence (the hor­i­zon­tal bar be­tween fence posts) re­mains par­al­lel to the ground in all pan­els.

If your yard fea­tures a heavy slope, raked fenc­ing may not be an op­tion, so a stepped fence would be the way to go. Ex­actly as it sounds, your fence pan­els will mimic the look of stairs, in­creas­ing with the slope of your yard. The bot­tom of the fence pan­els may leave larger gaps than you’d see with a sloped fence

— so if you (or the neigh­bours) have small pets, they may be able to squeeze through. Your fence posts will also need to be cut in­di­vid­u­ally to match the height of each spe­cific panel.

SIGNED AND SEALED

You can build a great fence, but if you don’t prop­erly guard it against the el­e­ments, you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to have to tear it down and build again from scratch. With­out pro­tect­ing it, sun and rain ex­po­sure will even­tu­ally start to wear out the struc­ture. You can stain and seal the wood to slow down that process and keep your fence stand­ing tall for years to come. Be­fore ap­ply­ing any stain, make sure the wood is clean and dry.

Here are two types of stain­ing you can use on your wooden fence:

Semi­trans­par­ent: A semi­trans­par­ent stain will pro­tect the fence from harm­ful UV rays but al­low the nat­u­ral look of the ma­te­rial to shine through. If you love the look of the wood’s grain­ing, a semi­trans­par­ent stain will let you keep that look as a ma­jor fo­cal point.

Solid: A solid stain will give you a vi­brant tone and cover the grain of the wood. You can get bright and bold with your fence which, if you’re try­ing to touch up an older fence that’s started to show its age, may be a bet­ter op­tion than go­ing with a semi­trans­par­ent stain.

Gen­er­ally, the darker the stain, the longer it will last, but don’t use that as an ex­cuse to skip stain­ing for an­other year. Use the in­struc­tions for your brand of stain as a guide­line. For fences that get a lot of di­rect sun­light, you might find that you need to restain more of­ten than sug­gested.

Do a quick check in the spring to as­sess whether or not you’ll need to touch it up that year.

TOEING THE LINE

Have you ever had a prop­erty sur­vey per­formed? You would have re­ceived one when buy­ing your home, but if you bought five, 10 or 20 years ago, what are the odds you can still find it? And if you find yours, can you trust that it’s ac­cu­rate?

Hav­ing an up-to-date sur­vey will out­line ev­ery­thing on your lot, in­clud­ing any im­prove­ments made over the years (like a pool, deck or ad­di­tion), as well as not­ing the lo­ca­tion of power, sewer and gas lines — you don’t want to be dig­ging and plac­ing fence posts on top of th­ese lines.

Know­ing where your prop­erty lines are is key, be­cause you don’t want to be in­stalling a fence on the line, or on your neigh­bours prop­erty. It will need to be en­tirely on your lot; it can’t en­croach into your neigh­bours yard — and that in­cludes the foot­ings. If you’re re­plac­ing an old fence, you shouldn’t as­sume it’s in the right spot. Your prop­erty lines may not be straight, and your new fence will need to be built with that in mind.

ALEX SCHULDTZ/THE HOLMES GROUP

Be­fore you break ground on a new fence pro­ject, make sure you do your re­search to keep it stand­ing tall.

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