Seaside Living: 4 Essential Fencing and Gate Considerations You Need to Know About

Jayde Ferguson

Living by the ocean comes with many advantages. Breathtaking views, cool ocean breezes, endless beach time, summer night BBQ’s and plenty of sunshine. It’s an attractive package for many homeowners - especially in Australia. But the salty sea air, harsh rains and winds and sand blasting the property’s exterior can be detrimental to your home.

Salt water – as beneficial as it is for health purposes - is bad news for building materials. Because of its extremely corrosive properties, salt water can break down the structural components of your home and its first line of defence; the fencing and gates. So how you do enjoy the seaside living attraction without jeopardising your hard-earned investment? Finding the right material choice for fencing in ocean view locations is essential, and knowing what maintenance options are available will help keep you fence and gates in check. Here’s a few special care considerations to protect your fencing and gates in coastal suburbs.

1. Steel Fencing

Whilst stainless steel has an aesthetically pleasing appeal in contemporary homes, it’s usually not recommended for seaside living. As a raw material, the sea air can cause the steel to stain which makes the fencing and gates look rusty and unkempt over time. A lot of maintenance and cleaning is usually required to precent the tea-staining from continuously happening or having a permanent effect.

As an alternative to stainless steel, tubular steel fencing and gates have become a popular option. Because of its light weight properties, it’s considerably cheaper whilst still offering the strength to stand up to harsh weather conditions seaside living can bring.

Pre-Treatment: To strengthen the fencing and gate material and make the steel rust-proof, good fencing companies will use pre-galvanised steel. In its natural state steel will always be prone to rust but once treated, steel can survive salt water corrosion and even the toughest conditions. Pre-treatments prior to powder-coating the steel will encourage durability and ensure the colour doesn’t fade.

Tip: Check with your fencing company to make sure the gate hinging and screws aren’t stainless steel. Although these parts are only small, they can weaken the structure once exposed to salt water and seaside weather conditions.

2. Aluminium Fencing  

As a raw material aluminium is naturally resistant to corrosion so stays rust free longer than other material styles. Rust-proof steel and aluminium fencing prove to be the most effective materials for fencing and gates in coastal suburbs, with aluminium topping the list as it doesn’t need additional treatments to tolerate seaside living. It stands up to coastal sun, heavy rain and strong winds well, doesn’t warp, corrode and has a natural anti-rust property to keep it looking great.

Pre-Treatment: Aluminium fencing and gates do not require any pre-treatment to survive in coastal suburbs and thus, tends to be one of the most popular and practical material options. Little to no maintenance is needed to keep your fence and gates in shape too.

Tip: If you do want extra protection and to keep the fencing colour from fading in time, powder-coating is highly recommended. Chromate pre-treatment before powder-coating instead of painting will keep the fencing and gate colour thriving in all conditions.

3. Vinyl Fencing

Whilst no comparison to the benefits of aluminium fencing, vinyl is a material option that can still offer a significant amount of strength and flexibility. Suitable for properties that are located in areas prone to extreme weather conditions, vinyl fencing can endure salt water exposure and the strong winds and rain notorious to coastal suburbs.

Retaining an attractive appearance all year round, vinyl fencing won’t blister under the intense sun, corrode or rot because of its inability to retain moisture. It’s also one of the easier fencing materials to install. Because of its easy care and practicality, it can be a cost-effective option for fencing and gate solutions by the beach.

Pre-Treatment: Like aluminium, vinyl doesn’t require pre-treatment to handle the sea water effects. The maintenance required in vinyl fencing is next to nothing and it won’t change or lose its colour over time too. Whilst they can withstand most weather conditions, the downfall is that once damage occurs it can be near impossible to get it back to its original form.  

4. Timber Fencing

Homeowners are attracted to timber fencing over aluminium fencing because the warm appeal and natural elements makes for a striking addition to any property. But if you’re living in a coastal home – timber fencing and gates can be a huge hassle. The layer of ‘fuzzy salt crystals’ that’s left on the beach after the waves roll is exactly what will settle on the wood structures of coastal homes and pull out the lignin, part of the cell wall of the wood and slowly eats away at the construction.

Pre-Treatment: Although it’s certainly not impossible to have timber fencing and gates in coastal suburbs, the consistent upkeep can be a nuisance to homeowners. From re-painting, protective coatings and varnishing at least twice a year, the ongoing maintenance and treatments can be costly and time consuming.  

Tip: If you still love the look of wood fencing, retain the timber look with alternatives such as ‘smartwood’. Made from aluminium and coated in a timber finish, smartwood requires little to no maintenance. This material option minims the timber appeal with a specialised powder-coated finish that’s better suited for coastal suburbs or surrounding salt pools.

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Fencemakers – Perth, Western Australia’s complete range of quality fencing and gates suitable for seaside locations. Catch Jayde on Google+.