Most fence contractors buy already manufactured steel posts from their suppliers. These are usually steel tubing that come in pre-galvanized or black steel finish. They are available already powder coated or raw.
Most of the customization options pertain to color, hole pattern (for fasteners), and structural design (attachment of flat bar). Custom steel posts are expensive but provide the high end, finished look that exemplify architectural fencing.
Structural design begins with post size. My preferred building block is a 2”x2” steel tube with 14 gauge walls (for taller, heavier fences 11 gauge). This is a standard steel size that is strong, affordable, and readily available. I usually pair this tube with 1-1/2” flat bar (1/8” thickness). These two pieces of steel have almost limitless options on what you can do with them.
Height of the fence will determine whether rails are necessary. Some clients prefer vertical boards and others’ horizontal. If horizontal is chosen, the boards can function as the framing. However, in vertical installations, a framing system will be required to fasten boards. Furthermore, depending on budget constraints, will there be steel rails that are welded to the steel posts to make the fence frame unibody construction? This fencing system is the crème de la crème. Besides the unmatched structural integrity, it creates a modular element to the fence, IE the boards are more securely mounted and easily replaced.
On fences more than five feet high, a mid-rail can be added. At seven feet, it almost is mandatory so the vertical boards do not bow. Another advantage of the steel framed, unibody construction is boards are easily mounted on each side if desired. This is common with fences that neighbors share. The strength of the fence can accommodate heavier exotic woods. Another bonus, the profile is thinner and the total width is at least two inches less than wood fencing systems and metal fencing systems offered at Lowe’s or Home Depot.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your fence contractor understanding the architecture of your house when designing your custom fence posts. Most architects provide drawings for an upscale fence, but they do not get into the detail as in the specifications of post manufacturing.
For craftsman, the traditional look is a post with prominent screws or bolts. You can scheme this details/accents with the powder coating used on the posts. Other nuances include washer and bolt size. The accumulation of details will determine the best esthetics and functionality. This will help the fence gel/blend in harmony with the main structure on the property.
Another accent is post caps. Picking out the right post cap sometimes is the difference between gold medal and honorable mention. For example, a modern post is best topped off with a welded flat bar to just square it off and close it. This provides a clean, concise look. One of my sources to explore options is King Architectural Metals.
On a Spanish Colonial, you might opt for something more prominent like a ball or pyramid. Well, you get the point, do not let your fence contractor use what he uses on any house; because in the end, it will just look like another fence.
Outside of the custom post itself, design choices mentioned do not add higher costs. Like any other construction, it’s about having good taste and taking time to pick out the right finishes. This leads us into powder coat selection.
Commonly, people are steered without much thought into choosing flat black or white. Either of these could be the optimum choice, but let’s consider all the possibilities.
On mid-century modern houses, I like bold steel colors, bright and vibrant. Also, does a high gloss, textured, or hammered finish work best? Be brave! You are never going to knock anyone out, unless you throw big right hands. My favorite source for powder coat finishes is Cardinal Coatings. They offer a wide array of colors and textures.
In conclusion, custom steel posts will enhance the security, aesthetics, and overall value of your home. If you view your fence as the beginning of your home and not just something at the edge of your property, custom steel posts are for you.
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