Choosing the Right Type of Fencing
Choosing the right fence for your home can be distressing especially you have to factor in the up front cost, maintenance cost, property bylaws, security, aesthetic, and all the different type of materials available in the market. This article is here to ease some of that stress by giving you some insight on what is out there.
Cost is a big factor in choosing materials, of course. But consider strength and maintenance, too. Repainting a fence every few summers is a headache. Wood is popular because it's handsome and often less expensive than other materials. But the increasingly attractive fencing materials out there today may make wood seem like a product of the past.
Here's a rundown of pros, cons and installed costs for a basic 6-foot-tall fence of several popular materials.
Pros: Beautiful and versatile. Wood is great for privacy fences because slats can be placed tightly side by side.
Cons: Most wood, even if treated, requires protection with a stain or paint.
Maintenance: Frequency depends on where you live and the wood type, but you will probably want to stain, paint and clear-coat wood every so often in order to protect it. First, though, let wood dry three to six months, depending on the humidity of your climate.
Cost: For a no-frills 6-foot-tall fence starts at around $22/linear ft. But price may dramatically increase if you want to add in lattice or better quality material. Then you can be looking at $30-$40 per linear foot.
Pros: Durable and can withstand the test of time. Traditionally, concrete fencing was too big for private residential. However, there have been revolutionary changes in recent years, and now we have concrete fencing at basically the same dimensions as any privacy fences. Strong and beautiful, concrete fence can take lots of abuse and provides better security than most other fences. Concrete fence also adds sound abatement qualities to provide peace of mind at home.
Cons: Up front cost for concrete fence tends to be higher than other fences, but in the long run, the money saved from maintenance may prove concrete to be a more affordable solution. Furthermore, styles are limited to what manufacturers offer.
Maintenance: None. Most manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranty on their products. Check with them for further details.
Cost: Starting at roughly $40 per linear foot for material and $20-30 per linear foot for installation.
Pros: Steel is much stronger than aluminum. Higher-end, prefabricated steel fencing is "rackable," meaning that on uneven or sloping terrain, an installer can adjust the bottom of each panel to fit the contour of the land, rather than stair-stepping them.
Cons: Styles are limited to what manufacturers offer. Steel is not an option for a privacy fence.
Maintenance: Higher-end steel fencing has a no-maintenance 20-year warranty if installed 10 miles or more inland from saltwater. Closer to saltwater, warranties are limited. After the warranty expires, the fence can be sanded and repainted, as you would with wrought iron.
Cost: Starting at roughly $23 to $27 per linear foot for material.
Pros: No maintenance and relatively low cost. Like steel, the higher-end, prefab aluminum fence products are rackable. Aluminum is a good choice for an ornamental fence that won't receive much punishment; it won't rust and requires no repainting.
Cons: Lightweight and weak. Not recommended for a high-crime area because pickets are easy to bend. Not appropriate for privacy fences.
Maintenance: None. Coated-aluminum fencing comes with a lifetime warranty.
Cost: Coated aluminum costs roughly the same as steel or slightly less. Decorative elements add to the cost.
Pros: Wrought iron is strong and beautiful. It is usually the only choice for historic restorations. It can be shaped into custom creations in ornate and creative styles.
Cons: Maintenance and cost. Wrought-iron fences are not mass-produced; they're a custom product. Not useful for privacy fences.
Maintenance: Constant upkeep is required. Depending on where you live, you must sand and repaint these fences every two or three years. An expensive powder coating applied before installation extends longevity somewhat.
Cost: Starting at roughly $37 to $45 per linear foot for material.
Pros: Economical and relatively easy to install. Parts snap together, requiring few tools. Vinyl slats can be installed tightly together, making it excellent for privacy fences.
Cons: Cost, limited styles and vinyl won't hold up to hard abuse. DIY products in lumber and hardware stores are mostly limited to white. Fence-installation companies offer more color choices.
Maintenance: 20-year to lifetime warranties from peeling and cracking. No painting required. It needs just an occasional washing, depending on conditions.
Cost: Starting at $30 to $50 a linear foot.
Pros: Strong, affordable and easy to assemble.
Cons: Galvanized steel rusts within 10 years. The best choice: U.S.-made black-vinyl-coated chain-link fencing is more attractive and has a 15-year warranty. "Privacy" slats, purchased separately, can be inserted vertically or diagonally to give privacy and upgrade appearance.
Cost: A galvanized chain fence runs about $11.50+ a linear foot; black-vinyl-coated fencing starts at about $12.70+ a linear foot.