Privacy doesn’t come as one size fits all. Here’s what to consider when setting your boundaries.
Before getting excited about what your fence might look like, you need to understand its purpose. Do you want it to provide privacy? Add street appeal? Limit noise? Keep out the rabbits? This will affect your choice of materials and design. Consider also any restrictions concerning the style and height of the fence that may be applicable in your local area. Some fences may even need a development application – check your local council website for guidelines. And, remember, it’s the first thing your guests will see when they come to your house, so don’t be a skinflint!
Metal fencing can be a beauty. Traditional Victorian fencing is made from heavy wrought iron that can be rust-prone, but most reproductions are powder-coated steel or aluminium, which offer minimal maintenance and decorative design in one. A new take is aluminium slat fencing (above), that’s well suited to contemporary architecture. “This option is easy to assemble and low maintenance – the blades won’t warp, crack or splinter,” says Shane Jones from Stratco.
Why you’ll love it: Charm for all eras.
Consider this: Less warmth than wood.
Project: Warm Architects, warmarchitects.com.
Image showcasing colorbond steel in Willow, colorbond.com
With clean lines, pre-painted steel is especially suited to modern designs and is ideal for straight boundaries. And you won’t be falling out with the neighbours because “Colorbond fencing looks great from both sides of the fence”, says Julia Ross, product manager home improvements at Bluescope Steel. It won’t rot or be eaten by termites and it doesn’t burn. “Testing by the CSIRO and the Bushfire Co-operative Council shows a steel fence can help protect your property during a bushfire as steel is non-combustible,” says Julia.
Why you’ll love it: Made to last.
Consider this: Predetermined colours.
A hard-wearing material that lasts centuries, clay brick will stand tall before whatever is thrown at it. It won’t fade, warp, rot or erode and it laughs in the face of termites. It ages beautifully, too. “Architects and homeowners are embracing brick’s innate durability and aesthetic flexibility,” says Michelle Gissel from PGH Bricks & Pavers. “The variety of tones and textures is vast, with infinite design options. No two bricks are identical, giving each building its own personality.”
Why you’ll love it: This hardy material defies huffing and puffing.
Consider this: Not the cheapest option in the short-term.
Project: Outdoor Establishments, outdoorestablishments.com.
Using natural stone as a fence gives the property an organic vibe with a touch of grandeur thrown in for good measure. It also adds a relaxed but permanent feeling as opposed to some materials, which can feel more temporary. “Stone is a beautiful backdrop to just about everything, and it gets better with age,” says Hugh Main of Spirit Level Designs. Stone can be pricey, however, so 40mm cladding on masonry walls is a popular budget-friendly option. “There are some cladding products that are getting better at looking like a stone wall, but if I have a choice, I love working with the real thing,” says Hugh.
Why you’ll love it: Timeless appeal.
Consider this: It’s expensive.
Project: Spirit Level Designs, spiritlevel.com.au.
This natural material brings a distinctive look and is used to great effect in Asian-inspired gardens and small urban spaces. It’s perfect as a decorative screen and offers lots of privacy without taking up much room. And you can sleep easy knowing you’re not responsible for global deforestation. “A tree of 15 metres once cut will take 60 years to regrow,” says Jennifer Synders, CEO of House Of Bamboo. “But a 15-metre stalk of bamboo takes 59 days to regrow. When nature gives us a plant that replenishes itself as quickly as bamboo, it makes sense to use it.”
Why you’ll love it: Planet friendly.
Consider this: Susceptible to rot.
Project: House Of Bamboo, houseofbamboo.com.au.
In a wide range of styles, vinyl fencing is proving a strong timber alternative due to its durable nature. “It has been tested to last 50+ years,” says Nadene Dudley of Think Fencing. Worried about eco credentials? Composite fencing (engineered wood) is a good middle ground.
Why you’ll love it: Lack of maintenance.
Consider this: Materials cost more upfront.
Project: Vinyl Fence & Deck, vinylfenceanddeck.com.
A rendered finish can be either traditional cement render over brick or acrylic render over a lightweight construction, i.e. a modular wall system that replicates the look of a rendered masonry wall. Render panels are generally cheaper to install. If you have a house with a fair bit of timber work but want the privacy and sound-reducing qualities of a solid render fence, using a combination of the two materials (pictured above) is a good way to tie in the fence with the feel of the house. “If installed correctly, these types of fences can look great,” says our Panel builder Wayd Munro.
Why you’ll love it: Noise reducing.
Consider this: Appealing to graffiti artists.
Project: Adam Robinson Design, adamrobinsondesign.com.
Wood is a historical favourite and adds a sense of charm to colonial, rustic and country homes. But let’s not stop at the picket; timber also runs to paling fences, horizontal slats, channel fences and lap-and-cap. A wooden fence can serve as a decorative boundary, but will need painting and repairing on a regular basis and don’t forget about termites. “I’m seeing a lot of picket fences at the moment,” says our expert builder, Wayd Munro. “But it’s a challenge to get privacy and a sense of division from the street without having a fortress.”
Why you’ll love it: Attractive look.
Consider this: Needs maintenance.
Project: B.E. Architecture, bearchitecture.com.
Whose fence is it anyway?
State laws regulate responsibilities of fencing when it occupies a shared boundary. They are designed to come into play to settle disputes, of which fences are a common cause. In general, adjoining owners are expected to contribute equally to the work for a dividing fence up to a ‘sufficient standard’. If one party wants to do something more fancy, he/she is likely to be liable for the extra cost. Check your local council’s website for more details.