When it's time to replace your fence, you may be asking yourself what fence style is best for you and your property.
There are many different options, including wood fences, chain link fences, hybrid (wood + wire) fences and vinyl fences.
If vinyl has sparked your interest, there are some important considerations before making it your final choice. Check out these pros and cons when it comes to vinyl fencing.
Vinyl fences are constructed using plastic-based material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl fences require less maintenance than wood fences, as they won't warp, rot, or blister. They also will not attract insect damage as traditional wood fences do.
It's possible for algae, mold, or mildew to grow on a vinyl fence if the fence sits near a sprinkler line or other water source that keeps the area consistently damp. However, in those instances (or when your fence gets dirty), cleaning is easy. Vinyl is nonporous, which means when your fence gets dirty you can just spray it with a garden hose to clean it.
Vinyl fences can add aesthetic appeal to your property and are generally available in different colors. Vinyl fences can also be built with color schemes to mimic natural wood grains. Vinyl fences will stay true to their original color for long periods of time, as well. Whereas wood fences can require painting or staining to restore their look after weathering, vinyl colors will stay looking brand new for longer.
Vinyl is made from a very strong material, PVC, that is known for its durability. It will hold up well over the years and will never need to be painted. PVC can also stand up to different types of weather without getting damaged. A good vinyl fence can last decades, and just by keeping it clean it could last up to 30 years. In addition to being able to withstand wet conditions, vinyl fences can also endure the harsh sunlight.
Quality vinyl fencing has an ingredient called titanium dioxide which is used to deflect UV rays from the sun. This helps your fence stay true to its original color. Without this, UV rays could cause yellowing in lower quality vinyl fences.
Vinyl fences are thought to be fairly simple to install, especially certain styles like privacy fences that have one large panel between the posts instead of a lot of smaller fence panels to add one at a time. Some homeowners even attempt to DIY install their PVC fence and many are successful. This can save money on the overall cost of the fence but cost a bit in sweat and effort. Vinyl fences do require digging post holes, mixing concrete and setting posts up and attaching the rails and panels correctly. So a professional fence installation is worth considering.
Vinyl fences do not require treatment with harmful chemicals to keep insects from causing damage to your fence like a wooden fence does. Insects are not able to damage the PVC material that vinyl is made from the same way they can eat or chew through a wood fence. Termites eat through your fence as they build their colonies and carpenter ants do not eat the wood but chew through it to dig tunnels oftentimes leaving a pile of sawdust behind. With a vinyl fence, that is another thing you will not have to worry about!
Generally speaking, vinyl fences will have a more expensive initial cost than alternative fence materials. The average cost for a vinyl fence will vary from market to market and is dependent on size, height and current cost of materials. Labor costs will also vary from contractor to contractor.
If you notice some vinyl fence prices that are considerably lower than others, it could be a sign that the vinyl in question is of lesser quality. As opposed to premium vinyl which will be durable and long-lasting, thinner vinyl can easily be dented or otherwise damaged. Premium vinyl formulations will also contain Titanium Dioxide to protect your fence against UV rays. Also, premium vinyl will be thicker and less prone to impact damage. For that reason, we recommend not compromising on material quality just to save a few bucks during your initial installation.
Vinyl is not a natural material, which turns some people off of vinyl fences from the start. It is made from a type of plastic which is seen as not environmentally friendly by most people. Keep in mind though that you can recycle most vinyl fences, so it will not end up in a landfill like wooden fences that have been treated with harmful chemicals.
If you get a PVC fence in any other color than white you run the risk of the color fading over the years. Color will last longer in higher quality vinyl than low, and lighter colors will hold up better than darker colored vinyl. That is why most of the time vinyl is offered in white and other very light colors.
Although vinyl is made from a material known for a high degree of strength, it is not completely immune from damage due to weather conditions. Vinyl will expand and contract based on the temperature. In warmer weather, it will expand slightly, and in cooler temperatures it will contract. If you had your fence installed in the winter and used very precise measurements for installation, the heat of summer might compromise the structural integrity of your fence. That is why it is best to have vinyl fences installed in spring or fall, then the temperature differences and their impacts on the vinyl will be minimized.
Unlike a wooden fence, when one panel gets damaged and you can just replace that single panel, a vinyl fence has less options for repair. If a vinyl fence gets cracked or broken due to impact the entire section may need to be replaced, rather than repaired. However, most of the things that cause damage to a wooden fence that cause it to need to be repaired are not things that would damage a vinyl fence.
There is a wide variety of vinyl fence styles from which to choose and each style has it's pros and cons.
This style is traditional and will offer the most privacy for your property. Typically, solid white privacy fences will have 7/8'' x 6'' Tongue & Groove Boards and 5''x5'' Posts. The tongue and groove pickets will ensure no gaps are present in your fence, which is ideal for keeping animals or small children inside your yard. This fence style, while great if you want privacy, has the potential downside of entirely blocking your view beyond your property line.
If you're looking to add something extra to your privacy fence, a lattice can be a great option. There are different lattice types, like diagonal (top) or piano key (bottom). The lattice can add a bit more visibility to the top of your fence line, versus the complete coverage you would get from a privacy fence without a lattice. Adding a lattice will also be an extra cost to your fence project. In addition to lattices, there are other vinyl fence toppers that can add style to your fence!
If you desire the traditional look of the "white picket fence," then a vinyl closed picket style is perfect for you. This style has 7/8'' x 3'' pickets, 4''x4'' posts with caps, top and bottom 2'' x 3.5'' rails and a metal bottom rail stiffener. The small gaps between the pickets allow you to enjoy visibility through the fence, but are too small for animals or children to pass through.
Ranch style vinyl fences will have horizontal pickets, 5''x5'' posts with caps and 1.5'' x 5.5'' rails. This style is optimal if you don't want to obstruct the view on your property line. However, it offers virtually no privacy and won't be effective in keeping animals in or out of your yard.
When it comes down to it, the type of fence you select should reflect your personal style and needs. Whether you decide to opt for vinyl or a different material for your fence, installing a fence is a wise investment. A well-built fence will last you and your family many years and will allow you to fully enjoy your property.
If you are looking for the highest quality vinyl fence to have installed at your home, there are a few things to keep in mind as you start looking at products:
The first is the quality of the vinyl itself. The thinness of the vinyl is an important thing to ask about. Many in-stock and DIY vinyl fences are made of a thinner vinyl than vinyl that is available to the pros. Thinner vinyl will more easily be damaged, for example getting cracked or dented.
As far as coloring of the vinyl, make sure that it has titanium dioxide added to it which prevents damage from UV rays including discoloration and can weaken the fence. White and other lighter colors will hold up better over time than darker colors.
Deciding what is the best style of vinyl fence depends on what you intend to use the fence for and what height regulations exist. A shorter, picket fence would be great for keeping children in the yard but would not work to keep smaller dogs in the yard or help with privacy. On the other hand, if the view is great you might not want to put up a six foot privacy fence! You can also select a style of vinyl fence that will compliment a vinyl gate that you may need for your property.
There are a few downsides to vinyl fences that are good to be aware of when making your decision about what type of fence you want to have installed:
Vinyl is a great option for fence material but does have some drawbacks that are good to be aware of when you make a decision about which material to use for your new fence. Although it is a durable material, it is not as strong as a wooden fence or a chain link fence.
The initial cost of a vinyl fence will be higher than a wooden fence or chain link fence. So if you are on a budget, and the upfront cost needs to be lower than it may not be the best option for you. The average cost of a four foot and six foot tall vinyl fence is from $10-$40 per linear foot, or about $4,000. A wooden fence on the other hand averages around $3,500 and a chain link fence averages around $2,500.
A vinyl fence is harder to have repaired if it gets damaged than other types of fences in most cases. This is dependent on the fence style and the fencing company’s warranty.
Vinyl fences have a longer life than wooden fences - they can easily last for decades. Unlike wooden fences, vinyl fences will not splinter or rot. The average lifespan of a vinyl fence is between 20-30 years with almost no maintenance. All you have to do is spray it down with a hose if it gets dirty.
Whether vinyl fencing is better than wood for your next home improvement project depends on what your intended use is for your new fence. If durability and a long lifetime with very little maintenance sounds great for you, vinyl fencing is a good choice. It will last for decades and does not require the type of maintenance that a wooden fence does like treating and staining. However, if fencing cost is something you have to keep in mind, a wooden fence will be less expensive up front than a vinyl fence.
Choosing the right fence for you depends on a number of factors. Hopefully the information in this post has helped you better understand the pros and cons of a vinyl fence.