Fences serve many purposes, including providing privacy, enclosing areas, confining animals and providing protection. They are made from a wide variety of materials like stacked stone, chain link, wood panel, wood post and rail and metal, including wrought and cast iron. Iron fencing offers multiple benefits of beauty, strength, durability, security and visibility. In addition to wrought and cast iron, metal fencing is available that looks like iron but is lighter and less expensive, providing the ornamental aspects at a lower price.
Most people think of a picket fence as white wood slats with pointed tips, but picket fences can be made of iron. Iron picket fences resemble upright spears connected by two or three horizontal rails. The pointed tips, or finials, can be plain or decorative and sometimes have rounded tips. Variations of the picket style have horizontal borders along the top, just under the picket tips. Borders consist of two horizontal rails with circles, scrolls or leaf work in between. Wrought iron scroll work atop shortened pickets can be set into concrete at the top of solid brick, stone or cement fences. Iron picket fencing is made from wrought iron, iron that is heated and shaped and formed manually.
Hairpin fence style is named for its resemblance to open hairpins set upright on their tips, with the curved end serving as the top of the fence. The sections are connected by two horizontal rails. The iron rods used to form fence panels from hairpin pieces are rounded, square, rectangular, hexagonal or octagonal in shape. This is a plain style of wrought iron fencing and was a popular cemetery fence style along with picket.
Hairpin and picket is a combination wrought iron fence style incorporating alternating hairpin and pickets connected by two horizontal rails to complete the fence panels.
Bow and picket is another variation combining two styles. The pickets are contained under an arched piece, the bow, connected by horizontal rails, to form a decorative effect.
The bow and hairpin style encloses a hairpin piece inside a bow for a double arch effect.
Cast iron is melted iron ore poured into moulds and forms. Cast iron fence panels and porch railings can be made in an almost infinite variety of decorative designs. Intricate, lacelike latticework, flowers, leaves and fruit, swirls, circles and even animals and other figures can be worked into fresco-styled designs. Cast iron designs for fences include Italian and French influences and are used for decorative aspects like finials, crests, medallions, sceptres and front pieces for locks and latches.
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- "The Fence Bible: How to plan, install, and build fences and gates to meet every home style and property need, no matter what size your yard"; Jeff Beneke; 2005
- "Black & Decker Fences, Gates & Garden Walls: Includes New Vinyl Fencing Styles"; David Griffin; 2006
- "An Ornament to the City: Old Mobile Ironwork"; John S. Sledge; 2006
- Chicora Foundation: Cemetery Ironwork