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Fasteners (nails and screws) are a key component in any fence. When I started building fences in 1975, we hand nailed everything. We used hot dip galvanized, smooth nails, which were the industry standard at the time. They last virtually forever with very minimal rust. Using 2", 7 penny nails for pickets and 3 1/2", 16 penny framing nails, there was ample penetration into the posts and rails. Being smooth, the nails held well until the lumber sufficiently dried, but would eventually work loose and need re-setting. Driving the smooth nails at a slight angle into the grain helped, but wasn't consistent or sometimes practical.

One of the large Denver fence contractors I worked for back then (who still hand nails all their boards) had a nail/fastener vendor who wanted to outfit them with all new nail guns and of course supply them with the needed millions of more expensive nails the new guns would require. A demonstration was arranged on a job site where installers would be nailing up boards, to allow the vendor to show how much time could be saved using his guns. When the vendor arrived, he brought with him the requisite guns and nails needed for his demo, along with a severely undersized air compressor to power them - probably because it fit easily into his trunk. With nearly the entire workforce of the fence company, including management and at least one owner of the company eagerly and intently waiting and watching, the nail salesman fired several nails into a long line of fence boards in a very impressive, rapid succession. Unfortunately, his undersized compressor could not keep up with the gun, and after a short burst, he was forced to wait for the compressor to catch up, or build more pressure. The last few nails driven were only part way embedded, and needed hammer driven the rest of the way in. After several rounds of this, the owner of the fence company pronounced the demo over, and nail guns a waist of time and money. Apparently, this decision stood for many years, and still does today.

Nearly every fence contractor in Colorado today still uses galvanized fasteners. Some are high quality, many are not. Generic nails have just enough galvanizing to be called "galvanized", and rust almost immediately. I have seen these nails rust while still in the original box in the nail shed. Many large companies, who use truckloads of nails, buy these to save costs. You can see them all over town, rusting and bleeding down the face of most fences that are over a couple years old. Some in just a few months!

We at Kayne's Fence discovered many years ago the benefits of ALUMINUM screw shank nails. They twist into the lumber as they enter(unlike a RING SHANK nail, which drives straight in), and NEVER rust. They are considerably more expensive than galvanized nails, and can add $1.00/ft to the installed cost of a privacy fence. We think the fact that they will never work loose and never rust makes them worth the cost. Take a look at our fences that have been installed for several years. If they were installed since 2010, when we switched to all aluminum, you won't see our nails rusting down the face of the fence.  

Posted on: Saturday, April 30, 2016

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