Before you can install a vinyl fence, you must identify all its parts. Knowing the components of vinyl fences and where they go helps you make informed choices about materials and speed up the installation process.
Posts are the vertical vinyl pieces that you bury in the ground. In most cases you’ll secure them with a concrete and gravel mixture so they don’t move over time. Most posts are thicker than the other components of the fence and carry most of the burden for the structure’s stability.
Just like on train tracks, rails run horizontally along the length of the fence. They secure the pickets (described below) to the fence posts and provide additional stability. Fences feature rails in different positions depending on the style. A bottom rail is the piece that runs along the base of the fence, while middle rails are installed halfway up the fence, and top rails run along the fence’s highest point.
Each vertical piece between posts is a picket. These add privacy, stability, and aesthetic appeal to the fence. Pickets can take many different shapes; some are pointed at the top, others are flat, and still more are rounded. Pickets are often slightly shorter than the posts, and in some cases they’re installed at different heights to create a scalloped design.
On a wood fence, a post cap prevents water from damaging the post. However, with vinyl fencing, posts caps typically represent a stylistic choice rather than a functional necessity. A post cap sits on top of each post and adds a decorative element. To make post caps more functional, consider the lighted variety, which help improve the fence’s aesthetic appeal as well as the safety of your yard.
A garden gate provides entrance and egress to the interior of the yard or garden. While many gates serve purely functional purposes, you might choose a gate with a unique or artful design to help your fence stand out. Gates make your home more secure, and they offer a convenient way to access your yard.
Vinyl fencing often comes in prefab panels. A panel represents one section of the fence and creates an easier installation process. Instead of nailing or screwing each board in place, you must simply connect the panels to each other via brackets.
Brackets secure one part of a vinyl fence to another (usually one panel to the next or to a post). Since brackets help hold your fence up, it’s important to choose quality brackets that are compatible with your fence. If a bracket is not sturdy enough, it could negatively impact your fence’s alignment. In many installations, different brackets are used for end posts (the end of the fence), corner posts (the post that joins two panels at a 90-degree angle), and center posts.
Understanding the terminology associated with vinyl fencing allows you to shop wisely and install correctly. As you install your vinyl fence, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions so you know which components go where.
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