With all of the choices that are available to you when you decide that you need a fence, choosing the correct building material for this fence can seem like an overwhelming task. Fences are necessary to divide property, provide privacy, protect from fires and winds, keep animals out, or even sometimes in. The building materials that are available are immense and each comes with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Some of the more popular fence building materials include: wood, vinyl, aluminum/metal, chain-link, concrete block and prefab concrete. In addition to all of the other benefits that were mentioned fences can add to the value of your home and increase resale value when you are looking to sell your home.
Asking a few questions will allow you to determine which materials would be best suited for your fence needs.
- How much do I value ease of maintenance?
- What is the fence’s primary purpose?
- Is aesthetics important for this fence?
- Does cost play an important role in this decision?
- Is longevity an important aspect of this fence?
- Will I sell my home in the future?
Once you understand the answers to these questions you can begin to look at the different materials and styles of fences that are available and narrow your selection down. Making sure that the proper permits and building requirements are met are important aspects for the contractor to comply with.
Wood is one of the most widely used materials for fences and come in a variety of styles such as: prefabricated fence panels, post and rail fences, and lattice panels. Wood fences are cost effective and can be easily built relatively sturdily to almost any height. People usually have to use metal poles for the posts as it will prevent the premature rotting where the wood is in contact with the ground. Because of the versatility of wood it is easy to mold and design elaborate patterns into the fence. Not all wood is created equal though and cedar is widely considered the go to wood for fences. Cedar is a long-lasting wood that is resistant to environmental rot and some people think that aging cedar improves the appearance. More common and less expensive woods that are used include spruce, pine and fir. There is a wide variety in quality and appearance with wood so be sure to seek additional information if you are thinking about putting up a wood fence.
- can be used for all fence applications
- can be molded into any shape
- can be stained to almost any color
- needs to be maintained every couple years to retain appearance
- needs to be replaced every 15 years
- can change color and shape over time
- can be more expensive over time
Vinyl fences are made out of polyvinyl (PVC) or what we commonly think of as plastic. Vinyl can mimic the appearance of wood or metal style fences without all of the maintenance that is associated. Fences made from vinyl possess great strength and flexibility and never have to be painted, decay, resist rust, or peel. In harsher climates the larger initial investment is quickly offset by the durability and reduced maintenance costs. They are often sold in kits and are ideal for light-duty boundaries or garden accents, but are not generally as sturdy as wooden fences, metal fences or concrete wall fences.
- durable and flexible
- impervious to termites and resistant to UV rays
- long lasting
- not very sturdy
- less cost effective
One of the most economical and virtually maintenance free fences is a chain-link or steel fence, if you can get past the cheap appearance. Most of the time these fences are made from galvanized steel but occasionally they can be made out of aluminum. Advances in metal fence technology have created a variety of materials and styles that can be as intricate or simple as your client desires.
- can be economical
- very sturdy
- can be very heavy
- rust and paint peeling can play a factor
- can get very expensive if large solid iron gates are used for aesthetics
Where maximum security, privacy and protection from the elements is concerned, a concrete wall fence is the best choice. Concrete fences are also surprisingly economical for a solid fence. A variety of accents and pigments can be used to match any design or layout. Concrete fences can also mix materials with metal or vinyl gates for electronic gate openers. The most consistent and highest quality is the precast variety that are manufactured off site and then easily assembled on site. With recent advances in precast concrete technologies the appearance is able to mimic almost every other building material including: wood, vinyl, metal, and brick.
- long-lasting and durable
- requires minimal maintenance
- most economical over time
- increases resale value
- easy installation
- can mix and match with other materials
- can mimic stone, brick, wood, metal
- slightly higher upfront cost
- more permanent fence solutions
There are situations where you need to use wood, metal, or vinyl fences but for most situations using concrete wall fences is the best choice. By taking the time to understand what you are looking for in a fence and weighing the options you can appreciate what each solution will provide for you or your clients. Also consider options where you mix materials and create unique styles. Stackwall team can assist you with that and advise you on the best solution.