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Beach Fence: Which Material is the Most Resistant to Salt and Spray?

Feb 3

It's obvious to most people that building on the coast comes with a specific set of challenges and how difficult the search for beach fencing is. It's because of a few key elements that the ocean provides. Each of these, on its own, can accelerate weathering, but together they are a force that can damage almost any material.

  • Salt: When materials are exposed to salt corrosion, their surfaces are altered by its physical and chemical characteristics. Metal structures are particularly sensitive to the weathering power of salt. While water is the main accelerating force leading to rust, the ions in the salt drive chemical reactions that further increase the rate of corrosion. These reactions are slowed down by the presence of zinc.
  • Sand: One theory about how the ancient Egyptians quarried blocks for their monuments, such as the pyramids, was that they used sand-guided copper saws to cut blocks of stone. The fact that this is actually possible testifies to the weathering power of sand. While naturally, windblown sand does not have the concentrated force of sanding or using sandpaper, the daily hammering of windblown sand can damage finishes and even wear paint.
  • Spray: In this discussion, spray really translates to "more water." Not only does ocean spray contain its fair share of salt, but it also makes structures near the shore wetter more often than they would further inland. It goes without saying that moisture resistance is essential when building on the coast.

The best beach fences are different from pool fences.

No matter what fence material you choose for your oceanfront fence, protection always comes down to keeping the elements away from the base material of the fence. Here are the best candidates for an ocean-friendly fence, and their pros and cons:

  • Plastic

Higher quality plastic fences can work quite well in coastal conditions. Being plastic, the majority of the fence will not be affected by humidity and can resist salt and sand if done well.

The weakness of plastic fences is the fasteners.

  • Steel

In the past, steel was a poor choice for coastal fencing unless one wanted to become a rust cultivator. Rust is the biggest drawback of steel, and as already mentioned, the presence of salt aggravates this tendency. That said, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule. With several high quality coatings, steel can be an extremely practical choice for fencing a coast. A thick layer of galvanizing is important, but not sufficient.

  • Chestnut

Due to its natural resistance to humidity and its high tannin content which gives it great resistance to various attacks: fungi, insects and other natural elements, chestnut is a very popular material for the construction of coastal fences: such as the Ganivelle or Barrière Girondine.

Chestnut is a wood of class 4 outdoor use (out of contact with the ground and purged of sapwood) with a very long lifespan and which does not require preventive treatment against fungi, mold and attacks of dry wood insects.

Contact True Built Fencing, a fence contractor in Austin TX, and let professionals build your perfect fence.

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