Local fence purveyors and builders offer their collective wisdom on the right fence for anyone’s home.
In Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, Frost tells the story of his springtime ritual that involves walking the length of stone wall that he shares with his neighbor, both making repairs on their respective sides as they proceed. Frost, while questioning the need for a barrier between his property and his neighbor’s, is silenced by his neighbor’s opposing conviction when he tells Frost, “Good fences make good neighbors.” The subtlety of that statement underlines the complexities that are involved in choosing and erecting a fence on your property.
Throughout New England, the charming historic stonewalls, split-rail fences and picket fences have become the iconic images that amplify a home’s identity. They provided a delineation of the homeowner’s boundaries, as well as a functional embrace for enclosing livestock, or a barrier to protect precious crops and cottage gardens. Today, fences can serve a variety of functions and applications; and choosing the right solution requires examination of the myriad of choices.
Cape Cod Fence
Since 1956, Cape Cod Fence Co. in Yarmouth has been providing homeowners with the fencing and outdoor product solutions they need and want. Mike Taylor, who has been with the company for 32 years, says customers’ trends are still rooted in tradition. “Vinyl is very popular because a white fence is so New England,” Taylor remarks. “And while customers are still doing the traditional styles of stockade and board fences, vinyl versions are the most popular because they are actually a little less expensive than wood these days.”
Cape Cod Fence offers wood, vinyl, aluminum and chain link options and provides services across the Cape as well as both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Regarding durability, Taylor says that a customer’s fence panels should be able to last 30 years if they are in a proper environment. The posts might need to be replaced after 15 years. “It all depends on where the fence is installed, if the sprinkler hits it on a regular basis or the ground soil tends to be wet. These kinds of things will all affect the lifespan and durability of a fence,” Taylor says. The company also offers lines of gates, mailboxes, lampposts, arbors, pergolas and cupolas to round out any homeowner’s landscape. In addition, personal customization can be achieved with the gate hardware as well as customized cutouts. “We can do a v-groove gate (a tongue-and-groove pattern), and we can do a cut-out, for example a starfish or last year we did a neat lobster cutout. We have a variety of other designs and it makes it very unique,” Taylor explains. It is that kind of customized fabrication that Cape Cod Fence offers on-site that makes a customer’s installation anything but ordinary.
The winter of 2020 has been a mild one, and Taylor says the Cape Cod Fence Co. crews have been lucky to have been able to keep a robust installation schedule this year, but does confirm that they are a year round fence company who keeps a crew busy throughout the winter season, regardless of what the New England weather may have in store. The process of getting a quote from Cape Cod Fence couldn’t be easier as Taylor explains, “Customers are able to go directly to our website and get a free quote with only a small amount of information needed. We try to make it as simple as possible for the homeowners. We’re here to do the hard work for them.”
Stick Built Construction
Located on Route 28 in Waquoit, Stick Built Construction owners Nick and Penny Luckraft are crafting some of the most unique fences in the region. Stick-built construction is defined as that which is constructed on-site without pre-fabrication; a technique and approach Luckraft brings to his clients’ projects. Trained as a finish carpenter, Luckraft, who has been in carpentry for 20 years, now specializes in fences, pergolas, arbors and outdoor rinse stations (also known as outdoor showers). Luckraft has applied his attention to detail and his fine craftsmanship to each and every project he creates. “There aren’t a lot of fence companies that are providing the art of a finish carpenter to their product and that is why our fences appear so uniquely different,” Luckraft explains. Indeed they do look different; Luckraft’s finished product looks more like an outdoor version of the interior paneling or railings and balusters that are found in finely crafted homes.
“Our fences are long-lasting, in fact they are ‘over-built’. We use screws instead of nails, and we sink our fence posts four feet deep as opposed to the industry standard two-and-a-half to three-foot depth.” Luckraft says. That customization and thinking outside of the box approach has presented unique challenges to Luckraft that he is always willing to tackle. “We recently had a client who was ‘vertically-challenged’ since she is under five feet tall,” Luckraft recalls. “In the custom gate we built for her, we placed a pothole window, at just the right height, so that it was not only decorative, but also quite functional for her.”
Stick Built Construction offers wood (cedar as well as pressure-treated posts), vinyl and aluminum options in the fences he constructs. When asked what homeowners are looking for today, Luckraft says, “Customers want durability, quality, follow-through and not the cheapest price, but rather a fair price. They understand that a fence is an investment, and they want to feel comfortable with the whole process.”
Walpole Outdoors is a name many will recognize since they have been in business since 1933. With a showroom and out door display area in East Falmouth as well as at both Pine Harbor Wood Products locations in Yarmouth and Harwich, customers can experience the quality of Walpole’s outdoor products first-hand. Fences are offered in wood, aluminum and chain link, as well as vinyl. According to Rick Kolbert, manager in East Falmouth, the difference in choosing Walpole for a vinyl fence makes all the difference. “We have two types of vinyl products,” Kolbert explains. “We have the hollow vinyl, which is the high-sheen style people are most familiar with. And we have a solid vinyl, which is an AZEK product that we find accounts for 50-60% of our business. It has a painted finish. It looks like wood and it feels like wood.” According to Kolbert, this new solid vinyl has become a customer favorite due to the very long durability. “The previous hollow vinyl could be washed down, but at some point it would loose its luster,” Kolbert explains. “Since this product takes paint, with some cleaning and a new coat of paint, its life is indefinite.” In addition Walpole has a patented life-guard post base that goes into the ground eliminating the contact between a wooden fence post and the deteriorating environment, providing the posts with extended lifetimes.
Kolbert says customers are looking for a fence for a variety of reasons: to provide security, a barrier, or ornamentation and also purely aesthetic. “A lot of times you can have really beautiful landscapes and our products whether they are fences, or arbors or pergolas, have the ability to anchor the entire design,” Kolbert offers.
Walpole has display areas up and down the East Coast, but performs installations anywhere in the continental United States. Kolbert offers, “People love the look of New England, and that is what our products offer. Fences in New England seem to have a greater sense of pride and curb appeal. Elsewhere in the country, fences can be simply functional and the aesthetic can be lacking. That is why people call us from coast to coast.”
Sometimes fences don’t just run in a straight line and keep things confined. This white aluminum estate gate installed by ABS Fence, Inc. in Wareham allows you to welcome your guests with style and sophistication. Fabricated by ActiveYards®, one of the largest fabricators of aluminum and vinyl fences in the country, ABS, 3rd generation family-owned, has been one of their dealers since 2010. The powder-coated white four-foot Granite Estate Arched gate was paired with a matching fence enclosure around the client’s pool. ABS manager, Julie Daniloff says, “The choice of white was an excellent decision. It really brought the project to a whole new level—a high quality aluminum fence with great durability, in a charming white presentation.” ABS services the Cape and Islands, Southcoast and the South Shore with fence solutions, pergolas, arbors, gates, as well as mailbox and lamp posts.
The cowboys used to sing, “Don’t fence me in,” but here in New England, the strong embrace a fence provides our homes is something akin to a warm hug.