Fence Quote Breakdown: Understanding the Costs and Materials Involved

Getting a fence quote can be daunting. Know the cost breakdown to assess value & choose wisely. From chain link to wood, this article guides you confidently.
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
January 11, 2023

Are you researching styles and designs of new fences for your upcoming home improvement project? Have you noticed that prices can vary greatly from one fence design to another, but are not quite sure what the reasons are for the cost differences? 

Sometimes the average price difference can be large, so it's important to know what's driving up the fence cost in order to make the most informed decision about the type of fence you want.

The cost of a fence can differ depending on many factors, but some of the biggest include type of fence and fence material, fence specifications, property terrain, and any obstructions that could affect fence installation.

Type of Fence

There are many choices of fence styles out there, and each comes with its own price point. Along with that, material costs and installation costs vary by location, so if you want to compare the overall costs of any particular fence style, you can get a free custom quote on our website.


For many of us, the picket fence is the most classic style of fence out there and is distinguished by its evenly spaced vertical boards. While not great for privacy, a picket fence will keep your children or pets inside the yard, and effectively mark your property lines. 

Nail Up 

Another type of fence is the nail up, or dog ear, fence. This is a traditional backyard fence featuring non-overlapping boards on one side and the frame on the other side. While the picket fence is more decorative, the nail up fence is functional and great for privacy. This type of fence, along with the picket fence, costs less than others because it is a fairly straightforward process: construct the frame and nail up the pickets or boards.

Picture Frame 

Picture frame fences are similar to the nail up fence, however the rails are located at the top and bottom of the fence. Additionally, horizontal boards are placed length-wise on the outside edge of both rails, giving the fence the "picture frame" look. 


If vertical boards aren't your thing, there is an option out there for you! The horizontal fence takes a nail up and turns the fence panels on their side. It's made up of horizontal slats that can be spaced, or not, and offers excellent curb appeal. Horizontal fences and picture frame fences call for more specialized laborers as well as additional types of lumber and decorations, like lattice or caps and trims, so these fences will usually have a higher cost.

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Type of Fence Material

The type of material you choose for your fence, like the style of the fence itself, can have an impact on the total cost. This choice can also affect the fence's lifespan, your maintenance and upkeep. 


A wooden fence is a cost-effective choice, depending on the type of wood you choose. Some of the most common woods used for fences are pine, cedar, and redwood. While pine and cedar are more commonly used, redwood is preferred in the western U.S. and California.

The quality and grade of your lumber will greatly affect the pricing. Pressure treated lumber, like cedar and pine, will cost more than untreated but won't last as long outdoors.

Even within cedar, there are different grades. For example, western cedar is a higher grade and will be more costly than Japanese cedar.

You can learn more and get an in-depth look at wood fence costs on our fence cost guide.

Whether your focus is aesthetic appeal, durability or cost there is a type of wood that will be perfect for your fence project. 


Vinyl fencing is great for the industry because of its durability. It also doesn't require as much upkeep as a wood fence, which needs occasional painting or staining because of sun and water damage over time. With a vinyl fence, all you need to do is spray it with a hose from time to time, or at most, take some of your dish soap outside to clean up anything you couldn't spray off. 

A vinyl fence is more expensive than wood when you look at the cost per linear foot. However, there is a cost-saving potential when looking long-term and considering the additional upkeep costs for a wood fence. It can come in a variety of colors that won't fade over time which means this type of material has major curb appeal. 

Chain Link or Hybrid

For the least expensive option, there is the standard chain link fence composed of interlocking metal wires. This material is great for commercial properties, and is usually composed of galvanized aluminum coated with vinyl. 

Chain link fences can also be used as temporary fencing. Or, when you put in privacy slats, chain link fences are also perfect for residential use and can offer some privacy.

Hybrid fences are becoming increasingly popular and are also a cost-effective choice for homeowners. A hybrid, or box wire, fence has wooden frames with wire fencing inside the frames. They are perfect for your fencing project if you want to keep children or pets inside while not obstructing a beautiful view. Because they require less wood, they are stylish while remaining less expensive than an all-wood fence.

Fence Specifications

After you've decided what type of materials you'd like to use in your new fence, the next big factor in your fence installation cost are the specifications. How big is it, in a nutshell? You'll want to think about both height and length. 


The total cost of your fence will depend partly on the actual height of the fence. A front yard fence rarely reaches higher than three feet, while most back yard fences are around six feet high. Since many average cost estimates are based on materials and linear feet, it may be surprising to learn how much fence height plays into the fence price. For example, increasing a 6-foot fence to an 8-foot fence could raise the price by around 25 percent!

Linear Feet

The linear feet of a fence refers to how long your fence will be. That means the total distance of your property line or of the existing fence that you want to replace. You'll need to measure that in order to estimate the cost of your fencing project.

Property Terrain

Yard terrain can impact the complexity of fence installation and these factors can cause your fence contractor to increase the cost. Anything that makes it more difficult for them to transport the materials, and workers, to your property will make it more expensive. Also, aspects of the property itself can increase costs, such as slopes or obstructions. 

Sloped Properties

Anything other than a flat surface will likely cost you more for fence construction. And in some cases, you may want to level your yard as a first step if the grade is too steep. If your property is on a slope, you will have to consider fence design as well. A horizontal fence, instead of a nail up or picket fence, is a great choice for slopes.

High on a Hill

The total cost of a fence is impacted not only by the materials and the length of the fence, but also the labor to install it. If your project is in a location that is hard to reach, like on top of a hill, that will impact the complexity of transporting materials as well as installing the fence. Both of those factors could lead to higher prices.

Rocky or Sandy Soil

Soil type plays into the cost of fence installation in a couple of ways. If your soil is rocky, it will be more difficult to dig the holes for the supports. As the installers dig, they will keep running into solid pieces of rock. That will likely increase the hours of labor that go into installing your fence. However, once the posts are placed, the rocky soil will provide great stability. 

On the other hand, if your soil is sandy, the holes can easily collapse as they are dug. Wetting the soil could help with this problem, as well as digging a bigger hole than needed in order to account for some caving.  

Other Factors

Any time there are obstructions in the soil, your time for installing the fence will increase. If you're paying someone to install it as opposed to making it a diy project, that means labor costs and your overall cost will go up. 

In addition to rocky soil where you will constantly be striking solid pieces of rock, there are obstructions like vegetation and roots that can make digging harder. This may be more difficult to predict than rocky soil and might be something you only know is there once you hit it.

If you have an old fence that the contractor has to remove before they install the new fence, that will increase the labor costs. If there are any above-ground obstructions that need to be removed to make a clear path for the workers, that will increase the time they spend and the overall cost. 

Finally, the time of year can impact your quote. Spring and summer are generally busy times for contractors so prices will be at their highest. 


Installing a new fence can transform your outdoor space and add privacy to your yard. While fence materials and linear feet are often looked at as the main drivers of cost, as this article shows there are many other factors at play. Being aware of those can help you design the perfect fence for your budget.

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