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Beyond the basics: Artful fences

Pets and privacy. For most homeowners, a fence serves the dual purpose of keeping Fido safe in the yard and carving out space away from the outside world. Practical, yes, but functional doesn’t have to mean bland.

Charlie Reid of Picket Fence and Exteriors in East Amherst said most of his customers look to find a balance between affordability and curb appeal. Beyond material (wood, vinyl, iron), lot size plays a significant role in price.

“If you get into Clarence, you may buy a property where you’ve got to fence in 300 feet,” he said. “Then you see properties in the city where you might only have to do 75 feet.”

That extra 225 feet can come with a significant price tag.

Artful fences | Buffalo Magazine

Andy Chambers hand-forged each six-foot panel of this 460-foot fence in his Kaisertown shop. It’s made of forged steel and is galvanized/darkened with an acid-etched patina, then finished with a clear coat.

Joe Smith, owner of Woodsmith Fence in Lockport, said most of his Buffalo residential customers opt for economy, such as wood stockade pressure-treated pine style, which can cost five times less than higher-end options.

Vinyl is also a popular option. While it can cost more than wood upfront, the low maintenance can save homeowners money (and frustration) in the long run. Reid also says aluminum ornamental fences, which resemble wrought iron fences but are much more affordable, are growing in popularity.

That’s not to say there aren’t occasional outliers.

“I had a guy who wanted an exotic Brazilian teak wood fence, so we put it in for him,” Smith said. “It was $15,000 for 100 feet, but he wanted it to be beautiful, to be a work of art.”

Artful fences | Buffalo Magazine

A decorative top adds interest to this wooden privacy fence by Picket Fence and Exteriors of East Amherst.

Blacksmith Andy Chambers also specializes in custom designs, pounding and shaping every piece by hand at his metalworking shop in Buffalo’s Kaisertown neighborhood.

“My business is based on being able to build whatever someone wants, and really, to build what other people can’t build,” said Chambers, owner of Arc Iron Creations.

While there isn’t a huge market for custom wrought-iron fences in Buffalo, Chambers said he has a loyal following.

“I just created a very big fence that was installed last year,” he said. “And it’s a house where I’ve been working for the last five years, so I’ve done all kinds of projects for them.”

Another of Chambers’ recent projects was a fence to enclose a pool.

“I built it in six-foot panels, and each panel is curved by hand to follow a wall that’s built around the pool area,” he said.

Chambers said when he makes a fence, it begins with a visit to the client’s house.

“We talk about what they’re looking for, but I also want to see the style of their house so I can put together some custom drawings,” he said. “Then I build it here in the shop, assemble it and ultimately it’s installed on the property.”

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