Experimental investigation and Finite Element (FE) analysis of the load-deformation response of PVC fencing structures

Adeayo Sotayo, Sarah Margaret Green, Geoffrey John Turvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) posts and rails are increasingly being used as components of fencing structures because of their good mechanical properties, which include long service life, good chemical resistance, ability to be processed into complex geometry and good aesthetics. However, there has been no experimental or Finite Element (FE) study on the load-deformation response of PVC fencing structures. In addition, currently, no stiffness or structural load-bearing design standards exist for these types of fencing structures. Therefore, this study describes an investigation of the load-deformation response of a two-bay PVC post and rail fencing structure. The fencing structure was loaded experimentally at the top of the centre post and mid-bay points of the top rail. The load-deflection responses recorded during the tests on the fencing structure are presented and shown to be both linear and repeatable (i.e. three load-unload tests were carried out and showed identical responses). Based on the transverse deflection at the maximum applied load, the transverse stiffness of the two-bay PVC fencing structure was calculated to be 12.7–14 N/mm. A comparison of the transverse stiffness of the PVC fence with a similar timber fence showed the timber fence was approximately 262% stiffer than the PVC fence. Furthermore, FE modelling using a commercial software (ANSYS) was carried out on the PVC fencing structure to supplement the experimental work, and good agreement between the FE analyses and experimental test results was demonstrated. Hence, this paper provides initial knowledge and understanding of the linear elastic load-transverse deflection response of PVC fencing structures, and constitutes useful structural design guidance for what may be regarded as the in-service or practical deformation limit. The results of this study also provide useful benchmarks for future composite materials and components for fencing and other structural applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-435
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Cite this