Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Why Do Timbers Split and Crack?
The splits and cracks happen because timber is a natural product and is a living material, and through the year, the wood expands and contracts, often meaning quite large cracks appear in hot, dry weather and then close up in the wetter winter months.


What causes cracks?
Pressure and moisture are the big crack culprits. New wood is wetter inside than many homeowners realize. Not only is there natural moisture, but lumber is often treated with chemicals to prevent rot. As the sun dries your new wood fence, it sucks out moisture, putting pressure on wood fibres. Little cracks start to appear where the moisture used to be. Poorly installed fence hardware also creates tension. The thinner your wood, the more severe the cracks will be. It usually pays off to invest in higher-grade wood.


What to expect with wood?
Customers often notice splits and cracks in their fence posts first because they’re concerned about the structural integrity of their project. Fortunately, it’s rarely an issue. In fact, it’s not unusual for them to be there from the day of installation. The cracks are as natural as the wood itself.


How Twisting and Warping Occurs?
First off, there’s no way to completely prevent twisting and warping in lumber, even if you do everything right. Wood acts as a sponge, expanding as it takes in moisture from an environment with high humidity. And then it shrinks and hardens as it drys out while acclimating to a lower humidity. This causes twisting and warping to varying degrees.



Are building permits required?
You should always check with your local building office to determine what permits are required for your particular project. In Sarnia, a deck permit is required if the deck is more than 2 ft. off grade. Generally a fence does not need a permit unless it is for a pool.

What is the maximum height I can build a fence?
It depends on where you live. Each city has its own fence by-law that you must obey. In Sarnia are 8.2' high. Be aware that corner lots have more restrictions.


Are there any rules about who gets the "nice side"?
No, not really. The only time that it matters who gets the "nice side" is when there is a pool involved.

How deep do fence posts get installed?
Ferrera Fences and Decks sets fence posts 42"-48" deep to get below the frost line. After digging a hole to that depth, we generally put a base of concrete at the bottom and rest the actual post on that foundation. Therefore the post is installed about 36" in the ground.

How is it determined where on the property line a fence is installed?
This is usually determined before Ferrera Fences and Decks shows up. It all comes down to ownership. If a fence is installed completely on your property (generally a few inches in from the property line), it is your fence. Your neighbour should have no claim to it. If the fence is installed on the property line, then it would be considered shared. All we need from you is a property survey and instructions on where you want the fence located.

Are there special requirements for wheelchair ramps?
Wheelchair ramps require permits and specific design considerations. The fence (or deck) is being built on my own property.


Why should I call the local utility before I dig in my posts or piles?
Many urban homes, in particular, have lines (gas or electric) that transit under their property. In most instances, these lines are providing service to your own home. Failure to "call before you dig" may rupture the lines, causing serious injury to people or damage, for which you may be liable.


Who calls the local utilities for locates?
If Ferrera Fence and deck are contracted to install a fence or a deck, we call for location of the service lines from the lot line to the house. Ferrera Fence and Deck is not responsible for any secondary underground services (Hydro to a detached garage, swimming pool, sprinkle system…) it is up to the owner to determine their locations.




What are the terms of payment?
Down payments are required at the time the contract is signed and full payment is required at the completion of the project.


What is your warranty?
Many of our manufacturers have a lifetime warranty. We will go over the warranty information with you once you have decided on the fence type that you want.



How long will a fence or deck last?
We believe a well-built fence will last 15 to 20 years


What is the difference between "board on board" and "shadow box" fencing?
They are the same thing. Like "pop" and "soda," it comes down to where you are from. Both terms describe the type of fencing that you can see through from an angle, but can't see through when looking straight on. Some people call this a "good neighbour fence," because both sides of the fence look the same.


Why does my pressure treated wood split and crack?
This is a normal process for wood. Because pressure treated lumber has a certain amount of moisture in it, as it goes through various drying and saturation cycles cracks and splits do tend to appear. This does not affect the structural strength of the final product and adds to the natural look of the wood.


Is it better to nail or screw your fence boards on?
It depends. We use air nailers or air guns. This tool installs nails with a lot of force for a very strong and secure finish. They also allow us to install a durable, built-to-last fence quickly. On the flip side, if you're building your own fence and don't have access to an air nailer, we recommend using screws for a longer lasting structure.


Why is pre-staining better than staining after construction?
With pre-staining every piece of lumber has been treated on all sides/faces, in a controlled (low dust) setting. On site adds wind, dust, and points of no access - that never get treated.


What causes black marks around the nails in a wood fence?
Black stains are caused by natural wood extracts interacting with the metal. Moist wood increases the likelihood of this interaction.


Why do knots sometimes fall out of the fence boards?
Knots and the surrounding wood have different densities. Since knots are more dense, they expand and contract less than the surrounding wood, loosening the bond. For customers concerned about this, we recommend Western Red Cedar, or Select Grade Cedar. The knots will be smaller and tighter. The cost is slightly more, but your fence will have a longer serviceable life.


Does it matter if a wood fence touches the ground?
Wood fences are best installed at least 2" above ground level. Wood that is touching
the ground will rot at an accelerated rate and may cause the entire fence to heave
with frost.


How long should I expect until I have to stain again?
If done right, and under typical conditions, Fences and Railings will typically need a re-coat every five years. Decks however need to be stained every year due to the wear and tear of foot traffic and the damage caused by laying out in direct contact with the sun.


Do you recommend staining?
YES. Although Western Red Cedar will weather over time to a silver gray colour that might be appealing for some, we believe that applying some kind of protective finish provides the best long-term results both from an aesthetic and performance point of view.


My last fence gate sagged and shifted every winter and spring. Why does this happen, and what can I do to prevent it?
Frost heave is a common experience in the soft, wet soil that freezes and thaws. This problem can be addressed in several ways, including proper setting of the support posts, design of gate hardware, and structural integrity of the gate and adjoining fence.


I want to build a fire pit in my back yard. What should I know about its location?
The Fire Regulations require that fire pits be at least 3 meters away from any flammable materials, including trees, decks, walls, garages and wood or combustible fences.


Can I put a barbecue on my wood deck?
Apartments and condominium complexes require that barbecues not be used where the deck or canopy is constructed of flammable materials. This regulation is in effect in many jurisdictions across Canada. However, the primary consideration for private homeowners is the limitation or rider placed on such uses as they relate to your homeowner insurance coverage


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