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Asked Questions

Check here for answers to some commonly asked questions about fencing. If your questions couldn’t be answered here, feel free to visit us personally or contact us via phone.

What is vinyl made of?

Crude oil, natural gas and salt are the raw materials used in the production of poly vinyl chloride (PVC) resin. It is formulated from these premium grade raw materials and additives, including UV inhibitors, impact modifiers, stabilizers and toners.

How is PVC manufactured?

The PVC manufacturing process: Ethylene and chlorine, nature-derived materials, are the basic chemicals utilized in manufacturing PVC. Ethylene is made from crude oil and natural gas; chlorine is made from salt. These gasses are chemically reacted to form ethylene dichloride (EDC). The EDC is heated (or cracked) to produce two gasses: hydrogen chloride (HCl) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Vinyl chloride monomer is the basic building block used to manufacture poly vinyl chloride. The term poly means many. This polymer is formed when simple molecules, called monomers, are chained together to form a more complex molecule or polymer. Polymerization is the chemical reaction used to convert VCM into PVC resin. The PVC resin is blended with additives (such as stabilizers, pigments, processing aids, UV inhibitors and plasticizers) to produce powder- and pellet-form compounds from rigid PVC pipe (having no plasticizers) to very flexible products, like upholstery and wall coverings. [PVC and Fire, Vinyl Council of Canada.]

How is vinyl fencing made?

This can be explained via profiles and fabrication. Profiles: Vinyl fencing originates as a PVC powder-form resin. When blended with the required compounds, this formulation is fed into an extruder where it is formed into a malleable vinyl. This malleable vinyl is then fed through a die into the shape of the finished profile. While using vacuum technology to retain the malleable vinyl’s proper shape, water is introduced to cool the vinyl to its desired and final rigid state. [See Engineering/Technology.] Fabrication: After profiling, Capitol cuts a chosen profile to the proper length for the specific fence. Holes are then routed into the appropriate fence components (rails, posts, pickets) and assembled into fence sections or left unassembled for distribution.

How is a vinyl fence put together?

Most assembly of vinyl fencing is accomplished by snapping the rails into the posts, using rails that are tabbed with special tabbing (or notching) tool. Different fasteners may be used, depending on the styles of fence. Vinyl channels-often used in the fabrication of Privacy and Semi-Privacy styles-are attached using rivets or screws.

How does the cost of vinyl fencing compare with traditional wood fences?

The initial cost of vinyl compared to wood is slightly higher for material costs in most regions of the country. However, with the ever-increasing cost of wood, this difference is shrinking in some areas. Many factors show that wood fencing is ultimately not as cost effective as vinyl, including the need to replace wood fencing in 5 to 15 years, the regular maintenance costs of labor, paint, replacement boards, etc. Also, consider the harmful effects on the environment from the arsenic and other toxic chemicals traditionally used in the treatment and maintenance of wood fences. Vinyl becomes the sound and viable investment in the future of your home.

What is virgin vinyl?

Virgin vinyl is the term for vinyl products that do not contain PVC from regrind or recycled products. These recycled products, which may contain impurities or lower-grade vinyl, could be imported into an extrusion plant and seriously affect the resilience, impact resistance, and UV-inhibiting properties of the final finished product.

Why is the vinyl fence available at the Big Box store so much cheaper than yours?

That is the question that haunts dealers and consumers, many of whom lack an understanding of vinyl. Resin prices are set at commodity levels (supply and demand strictly dictate pricing). Additive prices are set in a similar way. Competition is intense, with over 20 extruders in North America competing in the same market. In order to capture market share, some new manufacturers establish a low price, which they raise later. Others decide to make an ‘economy’ product which is thinner and may not conform to industry standards or building codes. Another way to keep the price low is by using recycled materials, which often change the dynamics of the product itself [See Co-extrusion with Regrind in the Engineering/ Technology section]. A manufacturer may also choose to fabricate the product using less expensive, high-volume and, sometimes, inferior methods such as gluing the pickets to the rails, or using brackets to attach the rails to the posts with screws.

What differences should I look for that may indicate an inferior product?

That is the question that haunts dealers and consumers, many of whom lack an understanding the most apparent differences in product quality are:

  • Striation lines along the face of the profiles (look for drag lines all along the length of the profile)

  • Low gloss (possibly indicating inferior additives in the cap stock)

  • Corner radius measurements that show inequalities from one side of the profile to the other, or from one profile to another, indicating lower quality control procedures

  • Grey back (dark grey or brown inside usually indicates a high content of recycled materials used)

  • Thin cap stock (the cap stock thickness may be so thin that it looks like it was painted on or is very irregular)

  • Fasteners for joining the profiles to each other that appear to be flimsy or weak, possibly due to high-volume production and/or inferior quality control procedures


A friend of mine had a vinyl fence installed. It looked great when it was first put in, but after a while it began to deteriorate. What happened?

There are several reasons why some products begin to lose luster over time. One reason may be that titanium dioxide levels may be significantly low, resulting in a degradation (yellowing, cracking, low impact resistance) of the product under UV exposure. Another reason for deterioration may be inferior impact modifiers, resulting in low impact cracking or fragmenting. Products manufactured under lowered standards usually come with a greatly reduced warranty period and coverage.
Note: This information from Westech Building Products is intended to make the consumer aware of the possible differences in manufacturing standards for vinyl fencing. Budget or logistic constraints create niche markets for all levels of product quality. This is not to say a consumer cannot get a premium brand at a Big Box store. Some regional branches of Big Box have decided to supplement their do-it-yourself business with a furnish-and-install program. These programs will be using higher quality products such as those found at Westech.