Frequently asked questions
You can find answers to many of your questions in the installation manual.
- Why aluminum?
Aluminum fences provide all the elegance and beauty of a classic wrought-iron fence. Wrought-iron fences, however, are susceptible to rust and are relatively high-maintenance. Ultra's aluminum fences, railings, and gates, with their powder-coated finish, are maintenance- and rust-free. This makes them particularly well suited for swimming pools and salt water areas.
Aluminum fences are also strong and highly durable. Depending on your specific application, you can choose increasing strengths from residential to commercial to industrial and, for the most-demanding situations, heavy industrial. All of Ultra's fences are 100% aluminum with welded gate construction and all-stainless-steel fasteners. The powder-coated finish comes with a lifetime warranty. Vinyl fences are also maintenance-free, but plastic lacks the sophistication and elegance of aluminum. Over time, vinyl fences will fade and crack because they are not impervious to ultra-violet light or extreme changes in temperature.
Wood can be an attractive product but it can be high maintenance. Wood fences require staining upkeep, can have rot issues and be an insect haven. Over time, wood fences become a costly investment.
- Why is Powercoat™ superior?
When applied, Powercoat™ is twice the thickness and hardness of a typical acrylic, baked enamel or "wet paint" finish, making it far more durable, fade resistant and scratch resistant than other coatings.
- How are the fences constructed, and how strong are they?
All Ultra components are extruded from 6005-T5 alloy with a minimum ultimate strength of 35,000 PSI. Every fence system is assembled with stainless steel, zinc-chromate-coated, corrosion-resistant screws with heads painted to match the finish of the fence. Posts come in a variety of wall thicknesses and are prepunched to accept the rails of the fence panels.
Accessories are of zinc die cast or cast aluminum. All accessories are fully powder-coated. Each fence panel is designed with Ultra's industry-exclusive Ultrarails™, which means they have internal ribbing to provide the maximum in strength and rigidity.
All Ultra gates are welded and powder-coated, so unsightly braces are not required.
- General installation concepts
As shown in this illustration, posts are prepunched with holes to accept the ends of the rails of a fence section, which are then held in place by a set screw in each rail end. The screws are painted the same color as the fence.
Here are the steps: Dig a hole; install the post; insert rail ends into post; dig next hole; install next post; etc.
Because the spacing between gate posts is critical, you should always install the end/gate posts first. When you order a 48” gate for example, the 48” refers to the size of the opening, not to the gate itself. The manufacturer always makes the gate a bit smaller than the opening to allow for a latch and hinges.
So, for a 48” gate, the opening from inside one gate post to the inside of the other gate post must be exactly 48”. You then follow the steps of fence panel, post, etc. You don’t install the actual gate until the cement holding the post is hardened.
Always hinge the gate on the railing side of the gate if you are using a freestanding post on the other side of the gate.
- What is the difference in types of posts?
It is important to understand the differences between end/gate, corner, and line posts. The posts have prerouted holes to accept rails from the fence sections. The position of the holes will determine the use of the post. There are also three-way and four-way posts that are punched on three or four sides when multiple fence runs meet at one post.
Here are definitions and descriptions for you:
End/gate post: Any post that ends a run of fence. A gate terminates a run for this purpose. So, an end and a gate post are the same thing. The fence may continue on the other side of a gate, and that post would also be an end post. An end post has holes on one side of the post only for rails to slide into. Only one section of fence is connected to that post. An end post can also be a gate post.
Line post: Any intermediate post that has fence connected to two opposite sides forming a straight, or 180-degree, line. These posts have holes on two sides of the post opposite each other. An easy way to determine the number of line posts required on a run of fence is to discern the total sections in the run and subtract one.
That is why it is necessary to know measurements on both sides of a gate. The gate breaks the total run into two distinct runs for these purposes. In some styles of fence, such as split rail, a line post may have holes bored completely through the post so rails can abut each other or overlap. Angles close to 180 degrees require the use of line posts. Depending on the style of fence, the holes may need to be widened to allow the rails to slide in.
Corner posts: Any post that is to be used on a 90-degree corner to join two runs of fence. The holes are on sides adjacent to each other. Corner posts can be used for odd angles between 45 and 90 degrees. An angle of 45 degrees might require a corner or line post.
Blank post: A post with no holes. These are commonly used as a gate post where no fence is to be attached to the post (therefore, a gate post can be a blank post). For example, your mailbox post is probably a blank post. Avoid using blank posts as hinge posts. The fact that a fence is attached to the gate post makes it stronger, and a lot of sagging gate problems can be traced to leaning blank posts.
Every manufacturer and installer uses different descriptions or different terminology, and it's important for you to know what you're getting. Knowing the differences in posts will increase your odds of getting the correct response by asking for the proper type.
- How do I install fence on slopes and rises?
When the grade of a property follows a slope, the preferred method of installation is to use rackable panels. A racked panel can be shifted out of square to accommodate changes in the grade. Different degrees of racking are available. A standard punched rail will allow for approximately 6” over a 6’ panel. A rackable punched rail will allow for up to 20” over a 6' panel, and a heavy rackable punched rail will allow up to 36” over a 6’ panel.
Rackable panels must be specified when ordering. This preferred method is used in order to keep a uniform small space under the fence, so the family pet can't get out. Standard line posts can be used with rackable panels.
Racked panels can possibly be used for stair angles of about 30 degrees or less, as shown at left:
For steeper angles, the "walking the stairs" method provides an attractive alternative, as shown below:
- Can I attach fence panels to columns/walls?
To attach fence panels to existing walls, columns or posts, you need to use rail end brackets. These are screwed to the mounting surface and the rail end of the panel is inserted.
If you are installing a UAB 200 pool fence, you must cut the top "ear" off the rail end bracket for the mid-rail because the spacing between the top rail and mid-rail (2") is too small to accommodate two full brackets.
- How do I mount a gate between columns/walls?
You can hang a gate between existing columns or between existing walls, as in a walkway/breezeway, in three ways. Because most hinges and all latches are primarily designed to fit a corner of a post, posts are often used inside of the opening and lag-bolted directly to the existing structure to allow the gate to be centered in the columns.
It is possible to hang the gate without posts, but the gate needs to be surface mounted, either to the inside edge of the column or to the outside edge of the column.
If you wish to center the gate in the middle of the columns, you need to use at least one blank post for the latch. Ultra offers TruClose® hinges that can mount flat against the column or wall. This reduces the size of the opening by the size of the post. For example, a 48" opening using one 2" post would reduce the opening to 46". This is critical because gates are ordered by the size of the opening, not the size of the actual gate. The gate itself is always made to a size that will fit the opening, allowing for the hinges and latch.
Often a more-balanced look is desired, so two posts can be used, one for the hinges and one for the latch. In this case, the opening size is reduced by the combined size of the posts, so a 48" opening with two 2” posts would be reduced to 44".
- How do I mount posts on concrete/decks?
When you want to mount the fence atop a concrete pool apron, for example, you can use floor flanges on the posts. These are bolted down using lag bolts and anchors, which are available at any hardware store. You’ll need four 3/8" x 2" bolts per post.
- What if I have odd angles, curves, ovals, etc.?
It is not unusual to have an angle other than a 90-degree corner. You can use a corner post or a line post, depending on the angle. For anything wider than 90 degrees, use a line post. For a degree less than 90, use a corner post.
To better understand the use of a line post versus a corner post, study the drawing below. If you're not sure, you should order a blank post (one with no holes) or an end post with the intention of cutting the other holes on site, when you can better assess which is best.
Using lines and corners in this way will allow you to create almost any contour you want, including ovals and near-circles
- What tools will I need?
- Hand diggers and power digger
- 100' tape measure
- Tin snips
- String Line
- Screw gun and Phillips head tips
- Rubber mallet
- What are the steps to installing a fence?
- To begin installation, hammer stakes into place of actual fence placement.
Your “on center” distances between posts will be 72-½” for a 6’-wide panel with 2” posts in the residential grade, 73” for a 6’-wide panel with 2-1/2” posts in the commercial grade, and 72-1/2” for a 6’-wide panel with 2-1/2” posts in the industrial grade.
Use your string, run from stake to stake, and your level to make sure the line is straight.
*If you are not using one of the panel/post size combinations listed above, please call for on-center measurements before you begin installation.
- Use string to lay out your fence line. This will be your straight edge.
- Mark the location of holes. (See “Digging holes for an aluminum gate?” for more on holes for the gates). Mark the holes on center. The key to running a good fence is for the holes to line up with the string.
- Dig your holes 36" to 42" deep (the heavier the frost, the deeper the hole) and 6" wide.
- Start by attaching one section of fence to the post. Slide the panel into the notched end of the post and put a 1" self-tapping screw into the predrilled pilot hole.
- Level the post and pour your mixed concrete into the hole. The post should always be leveled off your string line. Leave the concrete 3" short at the top of the hole, then kick dirt on top of hole and pack it tightly. This will help hold the fence level. Keep a 2" block under the fence to hold the grade heights.
- Now that you've completed the line, go back and level it. If you are following the grade, stand back along the fence and adjust the fence up or down to match the grade.
- If your line ended with a corner, the next panel must be notched to fit the post.
- After installing all fence panels, leveling your gate posts, and making sure the gate post cement is hardened, it’s time to hang the gates.
- To begin installation, hammer stakes into place of actual fence placement.
- How do I hang an aluminum gate?
- Make sure the posts are level and the cement is hard.
- Double-check the gate swing.
- Install hinges on the cemented gate posts first (if it’s a braced gate, the low side of the diagonal brace of the gate is the side the hinges go on), using 1" self-tapping screws.
- Now bring in the gate. Center the gate in the opening and put one screw in each hinge. This is for the final adjustment reasons.
- Attach the latch.
- Adjust tension in hinges for proper swing of gate.
- Assuming the gate swings well, put the remaining screws in the hinges.
- How do I dig holes for an aluminum fence?
Locate the position of the posts to prepare for digging.
First, make sure you determine which way the gate will swing and that it has the necessary clearance. The "opening size" of your gate is the distance between the inside of the gate posts. The gate finish size will be smaller to allow for the hinges and latch.
Since the hinges and latch types may vary, the space allowed for them will vary. The only measurement you can trust is the opening size. Use this measurement to space the two gate posts. Measure across your opening on the ground and mark the ground indicating the edge of each post. A 16' opening gate would have two marks 16' apart. Now, to better visualize where the post must go, draw the post on the ground. A 2" square post would require that you draw a 2" square with the edge of the post on your opening size mark. See the sketch below.
Draw a circle around the gate post marks.
The size of the circle, which represents the area to be excavated, should be larger than the post to allow for the proper amount of concrete. Multiply the diameter of the post at its widest point (diagonal on a square) by three and draw a circle with the post as the center using that calculation.
If you are going to drill with an auger, simply mark the center of the drawn post marks to indicate the center of your auger. Now you have located the position of the holes to be dug.
Dig the holes.
Dig your post holes straight down to a minimum of 18" and a maximum of 48". The depth required depends on the frost line depth in your area. For gates, you normally want deeper holes to avoid having leaning posts and sagging gates. Use the 48" depth for wide gates over 96" wide or for heavy gates over 100 lbs.
A 42" depth works for nearly any gate in most areas. If you are not sure, dig deeper. You'll have to dig the holes only one time -- if you do it right.
The diameter of the hole should be about 2-3 times the diagonal width of a post. For example, a 2” post is 3” across the diagonal, so your hole should be between 6” and 9” in diameter.
On small-diameter holes, 6"-9", you could be limited to a depth of 36", because you can't get tools into the hole to clean it out. That is fine, if you followed the guidelines so far. The post will be shorter than the depth of the hole; so, for example, you need a 36" deep hole with 24" of the post in it. This is not unusual because the post does not need to extend the full depth of the hole.
A common error is to assume the hole needs to extend only the length of the post. Make the shape of the hole so that the diameter at the bottom of the hole is wider than the top. This is called "belling" because the shape of the hole resembles the shape of a bell. Under no circumstances should your hole resemble a carrot shape where the top of the hole is larger in diameter than the bottom.
Remember, these are only guidelines.
Be sure that the concrete extends below your local frost line to prevent post heaving.
Fence height Post depth 36”, 42”, or 48” 18”-24” 54” or 60” 24”-28" 72” 30”-36”