For many decades, a wood fence was the classic go-to choice for homeowners wanting to build a privacy fence. But nowadays, homeowners have a wide array of fencing possibilities to choose from.
Technology and innovation have brought about plenty of new fencing material options, and while a traditional wood fence still stands as one of the most popular types of fences, now you can construct a fence made of vinyl, wrought iron, aluminum, or composite materials.
A word to the wise, though. Before you opt for a non-wood fence, it is important to do your research. Just because different fencing materials are available, that does not mean they will meet your needs and expectations.
Let’s discuss the primary differences between a wood fence, a metal fence, and a plastic fence.
Natural Wood Fence
A natural wood fence brightens and beautifies any home, but there is a major difference between wood fences and other fencing materials – the suggested maintenance. For the entire lifespan of a wood fence, it will need regular upkeep to protect the wood.
In the beginning, many types of wood, such as cedar wood, produce oils that safeguard the surface of the fence. Unfortunately, that protection only lasts so long. As the oils dry up, the wood becomes vulnerable to moisture rot, fungus overgrowth, UV ray damage, and insect infestations. That’s why a wood fence needs to be sealed, painted, or stained approximately every two years to withstand the negative effects of water, weather, bugs, and the sun.
For example, raw wood begins to break down with repeated water exposure. Eventually, water damage leads to fungus overgrowth, and fungus overgrowth turns into rotted and decayed wood. Once the cycle begins, your fence has permanent damage that no stain or paint application can undo.
The key to a long-lasting wood fence is protecting the wood before any damage occurs. Knowing this, homeowners should be prepared to invest the time, money, and energy that is needed to properly maintain a wood fence.
When it comes to metal fences, they do not provide the privacy that comes with a wood fence. The rails are spaced close enough together to secure children and pets within a yard, but too far apart to block out the view of bypassers. On the flip side, it does allow you to continue to enjoy the view beyond the fence. If you want a fence that completely restricts others from seeing in, a metal fence is not the answer.
Aluminum, wrought iron, and galvanized steel are the most common kinds of metal fences. Each type varies in strength, durability, and quality. Plus, the suggested maintenance is not the same for each metal fencing option.
Wrought iron fencing is known to rust, and aluminum is rust-resistant. What does that mean for homeowners? Aluminum is essentially maintenance-free, while a fence made of wrought iron comes with suggested upkeep.
Rust is to a wrought iron fence is like rot is to a wood fence – these natural processes harm a fence and lead to a less-than-optimal fence. To maintain the integrity of a wrought iron fence, homeowners can apply a coat of wax, linseed oil, or paint.
The oily finish helps to repel water, preserve the finish, and fight off rust. But before a product is applied, it is important to remove any rust and clean away accumulated dirt and grime from the fence. This extensive cleaning process is one of the downsides of upkeeping a wrought iron fence.
A plastic fence is composed of synthetic materials. Vinyl fencing, also referred to as PVC fencing, is made of formed, plastic panels. Compared to a fence built board by board, a fence constructed with solid panels comes with some drawbacks.
Consider the hefty wind storms or strong snowfalls that frequent Colorado. A fence made of boards allows the wind to move through the fence, while a panel is like a solid wall asking to be knocked down by a gusty punch. What does this mean for repairs? Yep, entire panels will need replacing compared to a single fence board or two.
Composite fencing combines both natural and synthetic materials, and this unique blend of natural wood and plastic fillers makes composite fencing stronger and denser than vinyl fencing. As for maintenance, no paint, stain, seal, oil, or wax applications are needed to protect the surface of a composite fence. It is naturally resistant to the elements but it often more expensive to install.
Which Option is Right For You?
Choosing between wood, metal, vinyl, or composite fencing can be a tough choice. There is not one right answer because what works for one household might not be the best for another.
When selecting a fencing material, consider what you hope to have your fence accomplish. Do you need the ultimate amount of privacy? Do you want a low-maintenance fence, even if that comes with a more expensive price tag upfront? Is the look of your fence really important to you? Do you want to incorporate certain design elements, such as trim work or fencing lattice? How long do you want your fence to last?
Answering these kinds of questions can help you determine the right type of fencing material. Every option comes with some pros and cons, but only you can decide what will be right for you.