Vinyl & Composite Fence - Things to Look for in your new fence.
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Twenty years ago, people questioned even putting up a plastic fence in our industry. Today it has been one of the largest growth sectors and more recently trending to variations on this “white plastic fence” to more of colors, textures, composites and variations in order to achieve unique looks to further accentuate the home. While white is still the predominant seller mainly due to price point, its not just about white vinyl anymore. Today the market has expanded into new technologies, colors and such to further expand the market.
When looking at options in vinyl and composite fencing, the starting point is the traditional white vinyl. From there you move to your basic colors which are shades of either tan, khaki or grey hues. Green and black vinyl has also been offered in the industry but have either been reformulated or adjusted on several occasions because of the need to stabilize the product over time with the dark colors. The darker the color the more uniform weathering is allowed because for vinyl to maintain its elasticity, one of the ingredients is a very white pigment thus making it more difficult for darker colors to sustain over long periods of time. However as long as any color change is uniform and within a certain tolerance, it is acceptable.
From the basic colors, there is a technique on the market of embossing. This texturizes the vinyl fence to give it a closer look to wood. Thus you have the low maintenance of vinyl with a wood-look. This embossing technique can generally be created over any color vinyl fence.
A further step in the process is variegation. In this technique, pellets of color are added to the vinyl to create a streaking effect like you see in natural wood. Some companies offer both an embossed combined with a variegated product and some choose one or the other. Some companies only do the technique with some profiles and others have a wider variety depending on their manufacturing capabilities.
Fiberglass techniques infused within the vinyl have also been a technique in the past. However early stages of the process made the product more brittle over time and thus the technique is mainly tied to those companies with strong engineer backgrounds and R&D departments in order to more successfully achieve the proper balance.
Wood composite fences have been also a part of the industry mixing more of the traditional wood concept with vinyl. These fences assemble more closely to wood but also are pricier than traditional vinyl options. The material handling benefit from the lighter weight vinyl is also lost in wood composite which tend to be heavier like wood.
Additionally there are also other options to traditional vinyl such as polyethylene which can be seen in some rotational molding fence products on the market today. Most notable for this is the SimTek product which is more of a stone wall look than a traditional fence panel. Thus in additional to textures and composites that look like traditional fence designs, the industry is reaching out for “wall designs” and other such items in expanding our traditional white vinyl fence concept.
When you decide to add any of these types of products to your product line, you should take caution however on some colors and composites. You should verify how long the product has been on the market, get samples and do some of your own testing on the product, utilize a company that has a proven track record of products on the market and then make your decision. There have been a lot of products come and go over the years and you do not want to offer a “lifetime” or “25 year” warranty and the company pulled the product off the market within a few years. Ensure that the company has a strong R&D background and engineering department as colors, textures and composites require an even higher level of sophistication in order to insure the product with withstand the test of time.
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