vinyl vs wood fence

Wood Fences

Wood fences have existed for centuries. They have a classic, timeless look that compliments almost any style of home.

Wood fences come in a variety of heights, styles and designs. Taller wooden fences are great for privacy, while shorter picket-style fences are more decorative. Choose among a wide variety of wood species, including spruce, oak pine, fir, cedar and redwood. Stain the fence to show off the natural tone of the wood, or paint it.

How Much Does a Wood Fence Cost?

Wood fences usually cost anywhere from $10 to $30 per linear foot installed. If you need 150 linear feet of fencing – which is fairly typically for a residential backyard – that works out to a total of $1,500 to $4,500.

A 4-foot fence might fall on the lower end of that price range, while a 6-foot privacy fence would likely fall on the higher end. Not surprisingly, higher-quality woods cost more than lower-quality species. Sturdy, robust woods such as cedar or oak will cost more than weaker species such as pine.

  • Sometimes gates are included in the purchase price; other times they are sold separately. Sold separately, they range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on size and quality.
  • Decorative features like a scalloped top might add $2 per linear foot.
  • Removal of an old fence usually adds about $3 to $6 per linear foot, or an extra $450 to $900 for 150 linear feet.

DIY installation can save a considerable amount of money – as much as 50 percent – but it is difficult and time consuming work. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you risk building a fence that collapses. But if you’re a skilled handyman, go for it.

Wood Fence Maintenance

A wood fence requires a significant amount of maintenance, particularly if you want it to last for decades:

  • Inspect the fence at least once a year to make sure the boards are in place and free of rot. Hammer in any loose nails and replace any rotten boards.
  • Clean the fence at least once a year, too. Scrub it with soap and water to remove dirt, grime and mildew, then rinse it with the hose.
  • Every three years or so, you’ll need to repaint or re-stain the fence. Be sure to clean and sand the fence prior to applying paint or stain. And choose a high-quality paint or stain that is designed to withstand the elements.

Wood Fence Pros

  • Natural – Some people prefer wood simply because it is natural, not a synthetic material that is created in a factory.
  • Less expensive – Wooden fences generally cost less than comparable vinyl fences.
  • Lots of color options – You can paint a wooden fence any color you choose. If you change your mind, you can repaint it. Vinyl fences, by contrast, won’t hold paint.
  • Compatible with plant hangers – You can easily nail a plant hanger or flower box to a wooden fence. Not so with a vinyl fence.

Wood Fence Cons

  • High maintenance – Wooden fences require a significant amount of maintenance, including regular painting or staining. You’ll have to do a touch up every few years to keep the fence looking new.
  • Attract pests – Termites can infest a wooden fence, damaging it or even destroying it.
  • Can rot or warp – Wood is always susceptible to rotting and warping, and fences are no exception.

Vinyl Fences

As a fencing material, vinyl is relatively new to the market. The first vinyl fences were sold in the 1980s, but they have exploded in popularity over the last couple decades.

Vinyl fences are made of a sturdy plastic known as Polyvinyl Chloride. They require little maintenance, they resist corrosion, and they are easy to install.

Vinyl fencing is available in many colors, but your choices are more limited than with a wooden fence because colors are applied in the factory and vinyl fences cannot be painted. Vinyl fences are available in a wide variety of styles – including picket, privacy and ornamental – and many sizes.

How Much Does a Vinyl Fence Cost?

Vinyl fences are more expensive than wooden fences, generally ranging in price from $25 to $40 per linear foot installed, or $3,750 to $6,000 for 150 linear feet. However, vinyl fences have a longer lifespan and are sold with longer warranties.

As with wooden fences, gates are sometimes included in the price and sometimes not. Decorative features like scalloped edges might add $2 per linear foot, while removal of an old fence usually adds $3 to $6 per linear foot.

DIY installation can save you as much as 50 percent with vinyl fences, too. And vinyl fences are much easier to install because they are lightweight.

Vinyl Fence Maintenance

Vinyl fences are fairly easy to maintain. You’ll need to wash the fence from time to time to remove dirt, grass stains and scuffs. Use a mild detergent such as dish soap, warm water and a scrub brush for routine cleaning. When you’re finished, rinse the fence with the hose. For tougher stains, use a diluted bleach solution. However, it’s always a good idea to first test the bleach solution on a portion of the fence that is not very visible to check for discoloration.

Vinyl Fence Pros

  • Low maintenance – Vinyl fences never require repainting. They won’t grow fungus or rot. And they’re impervious to termites.
  • Simple to install – Vinyl fences are lightweight and easy to install. They make for a simpler do-it-yourself project than wooden fences.
  • Easy to clean – A vinyl fence doesn’t collect a lot of dirt. Even when it does get dirty, the cleaning process is fairly simple.

Vinyl Fence Cons

  • Limited color choices – Vinyl fences get their color in the factory. Thus, you have a limited number of colors from which to choose. They can’t be painted if you grow tired of the color.
  • Price – Despite the money you’ll save on future maintenance costs, vinyl fences are more expensive upfront than wooden fences.
  • Sensitive to extreme temperatures – In the extreme heat or cold, vinyl is known to expand or bend.
  • More difficult to repair – Repairing a damaged board usually requires replacing the entire section. With a wooden fence, you can replace a single board.

Author: Ashley Smith


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