One of the most important elements in your home's overall security plan is a security fence.
A security fence is both a major psychological deterrent and a physical obstacle. First, it signals to intruders that entering your property might be more trouble than it's worth. Second, the fence provides a serious physical obstacle if they should decide to intrude.
Not all security fences are the same. Some fences that appear to be effective deterrents not only invite intruders but give them a welcoming environment for breaking into your home.
Why You Might Need a Security Fence
A security fence keeps your home and property safe by deterring or delaying intruders. No security fence can keep out all intruders. With enough time, patience, and the right tools, an intruder can bypass even the toughest fence, so the idea behind a security fence is to delay the intruder for as long as possible.
If your home has been burglarized or if you live in an area with a high crime rate, installing an effective security fence can keep you, your family, and your property safer.
7 Qualities of an Effective Security Fence
Fence height alone is a good deterrent for intruders. While an 8-foot fence or higher is ideal, zoning restrictions in most incorporated areas limit fences to 6 feet high. Consult with your permitting authority about how high you can build your security fence and max it out at that height.
If an intruder manages to scale a solid fence, the fence provides invisibility from the street, making it easier to go unnoticed while breaking into your house. An effective security fence has visibility and clear sightlines between the street and the house.
No Hiding Places
A clear, open security fence is one way to expose intruders. Another way is to eliminate obstacles around the fence that act as hiding places: bushes, rocks, signs, hillocks, and berms.
Obstacles on Top
No matter how high the security fence is, if it's flat on top, it can be easily scaled. From an aesthetic and zoning standpoint, barbed or razor wire isn't usually allowable or desirable on residential fences. Blunt spikes are sharp enough to make climbing uncomfortable.
No Bypasses or Easy Entry Points
If sections of the fences have open sections, intruders can probably force their way through. Any perimeter security fence must be solid all the way around. Gates and other planned access points should be locked and should be located in visible areas.
Difficult to Cut or Bend
Given enough time, nearly any fence material can be cut or bent. The longer you can deter an intruder, the better, so, make sure that the material is difficult to bend or cut.
Limited or Difficult Steps
Most of the fence materials should be vertically oriented. Structurally, some horizontal pieces will be necessary. But these pieces should be limited or difficult to access so they don't act as ladder rungs for the intruder to scale the fence.
Best Security Fence Materials
Steel Palisade Fence
Zoning permitting, steel palisade fencing, with its pales (vertical slats) that curve outward at the top, is a strong deterrent for would-be intruders. The high-tensile steel requires special tools to cut.
Welded Wire Steel Fence
For this type of fence, tough 6-gauge or more wire mesh is welded together into 2-inch-wide by 4- to 6-inch-high rectangles throughout the fencing. The 2-inch-width makes it difficult for shoes to gain a toe-hold. Because the mesh is open, visibility is clear.
Ornamental Wrought Iron Fence
For many homeowners, neighborhood associations, and permitting agencies, ornamental wrought iron represents the sweet spot for security fencing: tough and intruder-resistant yet attractive.
Chain Link Fence
Chain link fence is a moderately effective delay device against intruders. Chain link fences only delay intruders between three to 20 seconds.
Chain link's diamond-shaped holes are nearly 3 inches wide, permitting an easy toe-hold for most shoes. The 9- or 11-gauge steel wire can be cut with a hacksaw, bolt cutter, or even garden loppers.
Chain link's open visibility is a plus, though. For many homeowners with a tight budget, chain link fencing may be the best option due to its low cost.
Wood fences are poor choices for security fencing. Wood is easily cut or pried loose. A wood fence also also provides cover for intruders to break into your home.
Assessing Your Property for a Security Fence
- Calculate the total perimeter of the security fence and which areas need to be enclosed.
- Look for natural features near the intended fence that may help intruders scale the fence.
- Assess the ground for solidity. Security fences must be firmly secured in concrete.
- Check your fence design against local zoning restrictions and stay within the limitations. You might be required to change or remove the fence if it does not comply with local zoning.
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Fencing Intruders Out. Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy.