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Savannah Fence & Entry Systems
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Savannah Fence & Entry Systems

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Q: How can I save money with my fence selection?
A: If you are looking for an ornamental fence, consider chain-link as an option. If you must have ornamental, use a lower grade — and if you were thinking about industrial, get an alternate price for commercial. Also, aluminum ornamental is less expensive than steel. If you are in the market for a chain-link fence, consider two things: going to a lighter gauge wire (111/2 gauge instead of the heavier 9 gauge), or a lighter-weight pipe. Schedule 40 is the standard industrial weight, but commercial applications can use SS 20, half of the weight, and still have a durable fence. Talk to a fence professional to be sure you get a fence that meets your specific needs.

Q: How can I know that my fence will last?
A: The main way fences deteriorate is by rusting. Galvanized chain-link fence has a zinc coating, and aluminized chain-link fence has an aluminum coating. As long as that coating is not worn down by abrasion or vegetation, the fence and posts should last 15 to 20 years before significant rusting takes place. Vinyl-coated chain-link fences last significantly longer. Aluminum ornamental fences never rust, and powder coated steel fences generally last 20 years or so before rusting takes place. There are two primary causes of premature rusting: vegetation growing on or by the fence (which abrades the protective coating), or rust from other objects — especially from non-galvanized barbed wire — dripping down onto the fence, posts, and rails. Rust spreads from one place to another very easily. The key is to have the right product installed initially, and to keep your fence free of vegetation.

Q: Are there any local ordinances for my neighborhood or municipality?
A: Yes. For example, in Chatham County, Georgia, subdivisions with entry systems must comply with the MPC Code. Also, some county and city ordinances require that all fences be a certain style, height, color, or product type. Some also require that fence be a certain distance from roads, property lines, or landmarks, as well as requiring permits and inspections.

Q: How do I know the fence contractors quoting my project are legitimate and reputable?
A: There are a few things you can do, without much trouble, to ensure that the company you're dealing with is reputable:

  • First, ask for a copy of their certificate of insurance. This will tell you a) whether or not they are properly insured, and b) how much they are insured for.
  • Second, ask for a copy of their business license, which will ensure that a) they are a legitimate fence business, and b) you know their actual company name.
  • Third, do not hire a company that is not specifically a fence company. There are plenty of fence companies out there, so do not hire a landscape company, a nursery, a paving company, or a general contractor to install fence. Hire qualified fence professionals. One way to check this is to find out if they are members of the American Fence Association. You can do this by searching for them on the AFA website.
  • Fourth, look up their address in Google Maps or MapQuest to see if their facility is actually their house. This is usually a violation of zoning laws, and is usually indicative of their capacity and size.
  • Fifth, ask the contractor if they pay their laborers as subcontractors or as employees. It has become a common practice in these tough economic times to pay workers as subcontractors to avoid paying workers' compensation and liability insurance. This puts you, the end user, in a dangerous liability situation.
  • Sixth, ask how long they have been in the fence business, under the same name, in your area.

These tips should be able to narrow the field of possible fence contractors to competent and qualified fence professionals from which you can choose.

Q: What is the difference between pipe and tubing?
A: First of all, we need to clarify a couple of unique things about fencing. In the fence industry, we talk about sizes of pipe and tubing by their outside diameter (O.D.), unlike most industries, which use inside diameter (I.D.). That being said, we also round some of our measurements: 1 7/8" is called 2", 2 3/8" is called 2 1/2", and 2 7/8" is called 3". All the other measurements are called what they are.

Pipe is measured by its weight, which is determined by its wall thickness. Tubing is measured by gauge, which is also determined by wall thickness. Schedule 40 is the standard for industrial-grade. There is one nonstandard industrial pipe weight called SS30, and one commercial, medium weight pipe, SS20. All sizes of tubing are significantly thinner-walled than the three standard pipe sizes.

To give you an idea of the difference, pipe is what they make roll cages out of, while tubing is what they use to make lawn chairs. When a lawn chair bends from strain, it cannot be straightened. If you straighten it, it usually just snaps. Basically, pipe is beefier than tubing — and worth the additional investment.

Q: Where can I buy fence supplies to install my own fence?
A: We are not set up to do counter sales at our facility. Therefore, we recommend that you buy your materials from Home Depot, Lowe's, or other hardware and home improvement stores. Keep in mind, however, that their selection is limited to residential-grade materials.

Q: What sizes and types of gates do I need?
A: First of all, gates are measured by the opening size, not the gate leaf size. A 10' double gate has two 5' leafs and is called a 10' double swing gate. All gates are measured by the total opening. There are four main types of gates: single swing, double swing, roll, and cantilever.

Single swing gates are usually for pedestrian traffic, with 4' being the standard size. We have installed single swing gates with openings as large as 64'.

Double swing gates are usually for vehicle traffic, available in whatever size you need. For example, we have installed 114' double swing gates for Gulfstream Aerospace.

Roll gates are useful when double swing gates are not practical for whatever reason. Roll gates ride along a track and have a wheel carriage rolling on the ground at the front edge of the gate. These require a good bit of adjustment, as well as a level paved or concrete opening for the wheels to roll on. Roll gates are more expensive than swing gates, and they require more maintenance. However, they are less expensive than cantilever gates. The maximum size for a roll gate is 46' double, or 23' single. We don't recommend roll gates if you plan to put a gate operator on the gate in the future, though.

Cantilever gates are the optimal choice for gates with entry systems. If you plan to install an entry system on your gate, now or in the future, we recommend installing a cantilever gate. Cantilever gates have a counterbalance that allows them to ride on rollers (which are mounted to posts) and slide back and forth without ever touching the ground. This allows for a smooth open and close action, regardless of ground conditions. They are available in ornamental styles, round pipe, and square framed aluminum-with chain link fabric, or aluminum pickets. It's also more durable and maintenance free than a roll gate. Cantilever gate sizes, like swing gate sizes, are basically unlimited.

Q: What is the difference between residential fence and commercial or industrial fence?
A: There are three primary differences between residential fence and the kind of fence we do.

First, residential grade chain-link fence posts are made of tubing, while both commercial and industrial chain-link fence posts are pipe. For more on this, see the above answer about pipe and tubing.

Second, residential chain-link fence fabric is usually a higher gauge (smaller wire/larger diamond) wire, such as 111/2, 12, or 13 gauge, while commercial and industrial is either 9 or 111/2 gauge.

Third, distinction can also be made in the method used to galvanize the wire. Residential fence is usually GBW, which means "galvanized before weaving." The problem with that process is that the wire scrapes together at each joint during the weaving process, which scrapes through some of the galvanized coating. Industrial and commercial grade fencing fabric is GAW, meaning "galvanized after weaving," which means the wire was hot-dipped in zinc after being woven into fence fabric. This process prevents rusting that the former process does not, which is why it carries a longer warranty than the former. It ensures long-term durability. Many residential fence installers are inexperienced and unfamiliar with basic commercial and industrial components, such as braces, truss rods, tension wire, barbed wire, drop rods, and box hinges.

Q: Does Savannah Fence & Entry Systems do residential fence?
A: We do residential vinyl, ornamental aluminum, ornamental steel, entry systems, and specialty gates. We do not do residential chain-link fence. However, if you have budget constraints or a shorter project duration, we can install residential grade chain-link fence on an industrial or commercial job site; but we advise against it for obvious reasons.