Gone are the days when every garden fence was a simple picket fence made of timber and modern residential fencing is available in an enormous variety of materials. However, when it comes to choosing a fence material that provides strength, longevity and security in equal measure, it's hard to beat the raw durability of steel fencing.
Unfortunately, unprotected steel fencing does possess one glaring weakness — rust. Even in the driest of climates, occasional rains and the moisture present in the atmosphere can leave a steel fence riddled with damaging and unsightly rust. Having your fence coated with a rustproof coating (or purchasing pre-coated fencing supplies) will do a great deal to maximise the longevity of your fence. A number of rustproofing options are available for your fencing, so take care to familiarise yourself with their individual pros and cons before choosing the best fence coating for your needs.
These coatings consist of an extremely thin layer of zinc, which is chemically bonded to the surface of your steel fencing. Despite the wafer-thinness of the coatings, they provide excellent resistance against rust, essentially 'sacrificing' themselves by reacting with moisture so the steel beneath does not, a process known as preferential corrosion.
These coatings are relatively cheap and can be applied quickly by fabrication workshops and other metal coating services, making them an excellent choice for protecting larger fences quickly without breaking the bank. Because the fence is immersed fully in a chemical solution to apply the coating, you can also rest assured that your fence is totally protected from the elements, with no unprotected nooks and crannies that can form havens for hidden corrosion.
Unfortunately, the lifespan of these coatings is somewhat limited, especially in coastal areas where high levels of ambient salinity can cause the zinc to corrode alarmingly quickly. Galvanised coatings are also somewhat rough-and-ready in appearance and do not offer any colour options.
Paints used to protect metal fences from rust bear little resemblance to the emulsion you slap onto your living room walls and contain powerful rustproofing compounds to maximise the protection they convey.
Rustproof paints are one of the most affordable fence-coating options out there and are available in an enormous range of colours to satisfy even the most discerning aesthete. Sadly, you get what you pay for, and paints will not last as long as other rustproofing options — when they do begin to fail, they often begin to crack and peel, making your fence look unsightly. They can also be somewhat labour-intensive to apply.
These coatings are superficially similar to painted coatings, but are functionally quite difference. Instead of being applied in liquid form, powder coatings are applied to the fencing in solid powder form and 'baked' onto the surface of your fencing inside powerful kilns.
These coatings provide far more durability and longevity. They come in a range of colours and shades that rivals the versatility of paints and do not have a tendency to peel or crack. Barring extreme weather conditions, these coatings can be expected to last for years or even decades.
However, the phrase 'you get what you pay for' cuts both ways, and powder coatings can be considerably more expensive to apply than other coating options. Due to the limited capacities of the kilns used to cure powder coatings, coating large fence panels and poles may also be impractical or prohibitively expensive.