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The Go-To FAQ on Residential Fencing: An Interview with Roy Cuzzocreo of Orange Fence & Supply Co, Inc.

By Roy Cuzzocreo

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a full-service fence company. We manufacture all of our cedar fences and many of our other products. We have indoor and outdoor displays, and we sell over-the-counter to contractors and do-it-yourselfers, as well as offering the highest levels of professional installation. Custom fence projects and electrically operated gates are just two of our specialties. Founded in 1930 and now including the fourth generation, I believe we are the oldest family owned fence company in Connecticut, and we pride ourselves in serving generations of repeat customers.

Can you share some of the common reasons that people are installing new fencing?

Typically people are installing new fences for privacy and security. They want to keep their children or pets safe, or want to keep other pets or kids out. Often they are replacing an older worn out fence which perhaps was serving the same function. Simple aesthetics are also a reason for a new fence, perhaps a backdrop for plantings or to screen an unsightly view. Many people are also installing taller fences to keep deer out of their properties and protect their landscaping from damage and themselves from potential disease. Swimming pools are, of course, a main reason for installing a fence, protection of their own children as well as the neighborhood kids, as well as privacy and liability protection are the main reasons. State statute also requires pool fencing in most cases. One of the other main drivers for a new fence is protecting gardens from pests. For these and other reasons, oftentimes a new fence means peace of mind.

For Connecticut homeowners who want to help keep their pets safe in their yard and/or keep other people's pets out, what type of fencing do you recommend? Are there any other considerations for the fence?

There are many types of fences which will serve these purposes. Solid privacy or spaced picket style wood or vinyl fences, chain link and ornamental aluminum fences, as well as post and rail with wire attached all make great pet fences. Obviously we'd be talking about a full enclosure of some sort for pets, whether it be the full yard or some portion, or something as simple as a free-standing kennel.

Most often, if just a part of the yard is enclosed, people will want to consider the configuration so that the pets can be let outside directly from the home, especially in winter. Some pets do better with a full privacy screen, so they're not distracted or attracted by something outside the enclosure. Some need to be able to see what's going on around them, these can be pretty specific to the pet in question.

If a dog is a jumper, we need to consider the height of the fence as a key issue. If he's a digger, we need to make sure the style of fence can closely follow the ground. There can be different considerations for small dogs versus large dogs. Many times the spacing on a picket or aluminum fence will have to be altered for small dogs. While some people do opt for the electronic pet containment fences, we do point out that, while they keep your dog within the defined perimeter, they do not keep other dogs or predators out.

What's one of the best fences if privacy is your main concern?

The primary materials for privacy fence are PVC (vinyl fence) or wood. They both have their pros and cons. Pro-grade vinyl fence is generally considered maintenance free. Cedar and other wood fence can be customized in virtually infinite designs to suit the customers' needs or wants. There are different grades and prices levels for both types of material. While good vinyl fence was a more expensive option when originally introduced, it is now essentially comparable with good cedar fence.

Can you briefly talk about the fencing needs for swimming pool safety?

Swimming pool fences have to meet certain requirements to meet state building codes. The BOCA code, which state statutes are based on, require a minimum height of 4 feet. Pedestrian access gates must be self-closing and self-latching. Gates other than pedestrian access must be self latching. There are many new styles of hinges and latches which are specifically designed to meet pole code regulations.

For picket style fences, wood, vinyl or aluminum, the pickets can be spaced up to 4" apart, If there are no horizontal cross rails closer than 45" apart. If the cross rails are closer than these, then the pickets have to be less than 1-3/4" apart.

Chain link fence works well as a full or partial pool enclosure, as long as the chain link wire mesh has openings of 1-1/4" or less. In a recent reprint of the regulations, this portion was unfortunately subject to a typo which lists 2-1/4" as the wire mesh requirement. Thanks to electronic distribution of these regs, this has been published everywhere and even many town officials believe it is proper. Professional fence companies know that since this makes the fence climbable, it circumvents the intent of the regulation and will not install this material.

I guess the short answer here is that there are enough options and considerations to be confusing, there are many options and looks that will produce a safe, legal and attractive pool fence. A fence professional is the best resource for answers for your specific yard and pool.

If someone wants an electric estate-style gate for their property, what are some of the main options they have?

Here again there are several options, but some of the decisions will be determined by the space available and the slope of the driveway. One thing to consider initially is that these gate operators are much more complex and heavy duty than a garage door opener. The two typical gate designs are swinging gates and sliding gates. Primarily residential driveway gates will be a swing style gate but there are occasions where a slide gate better fits the site conditions. In many case both construction types are an option.

Once the style of construction and operation of the gate have been decided, there are several different options for materials. Wood, Ornamental aluminum and steel, even vinyl in some cases can be used, design possibilities are pretty much unlimited. Depending on the size of the gate and the type of the material, there is often a need to have an inner steel structural framework to which the face material is applied.

Once these decisions have been made, the gate operator(s) come into play. There are many options depending on the size and weight of the gates, but mostly on the number of cycles it will be typically asked to perform. There are also as many decisions to make on access control options as there are on any other part of the project. Does the client want simple radio control to open and close (like a garage door)? Free exit devices trigger the gate to open as a car exits, self-closing timers, intercom systems or telephone entry systems with closed circuit tv cameras are also all available.

In any case, the primary considerations need to be safety, as well as functionality. These are generally big and heavy gates being moved hydraulically, or mechanically, and are capable of causing damage or injury if improperly designed or installed. There are a great number of considerations that go into a properly designed entry gate system. While this might initially seem daunting, a certified gate operator installer will be able to help you through the decisions.

Is there anything I didn't ask that you think would be helpful for our readers to know about fences?

The first thing people I ask a prospective client is what they want the fence to do. In many cases the answers to this will help make the process easier and faster. They should look around as they're driving and see what kinds of things they like or dislike. This is something that they will look at for a long time if it's a good fence, properly installed. Every yard is different; a fence professional who works with different products in different situations will be able to make sure they're getting the best bang for the buck.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Our showroom at 205 Boston Post Rd. in Orange, Connecticut, is open Monday through Friday from 7 am until 5 pm and Saturdays from 8 am until 3:30 pm. During the season there is often someone around after hours to talk to. Currently we are closed on Sunday. Our phone numbers are 203-795-1321 and 203-799-2437, during business hours a live person who knows a lot about fence will answer the phone. Main office email is info@orangefence.com. My email is rcuzzocreo@orangefence.com if anyone has any questions directly for me.

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