There are several common fencing materials — chain link, wood, vinyl, metal and composite — that have distinct advantages and disadvantages.
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Wood fences have a traditional look but require ongoing maintenance. You may need to paint or stain them every few years. There are several types you can choose based on your preferences.
- Wood panel fencing, sometimes called stockade fencing, improves privacy and security, and it’s a good choice for setting boundaries for children and pets. Individual components (boards and rails) and prebuilt panels come in sections 4 to 6 feet tall and 6 or 8 feet long. There are two basic types of panel fence styles: a solid panel fence, which is good for concealing unattractive areas or hiding a roadway from view, or shadowbox panels that use alternating boards on each side of the fence rail to give the fence the same look on both sides. Shadowbox panels also allow air circulation and provide partial views.
- Picket fencing adds a decorative element and is best for large pets since little ones could slip through the wide gaps. These fences have spaced boards or pickets running along one side of the fence rail and are generally a maximum of 4 feet tall. They’re available in preassembled panels up to 8 feet in length and as individual components.
- Split-rail fencing, also known as post-and-rail fencing, adds a rustic look to a landscape. Use this type of fence to define specific areas in your yard or provide an easily visible separation along property lines. The horizontal rails are available either split or round in lengths from 8 to 11 feet.
Depending on the region and style, wood fencing is available in cedar, pine, redwood, or spruce. Cedar and redwood are naturally resistant to decay and insects, while spruce and pine are typically pressure-treated to deter insects and decay.
Pressure-treated fence materials require hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel fasteners and hardware. Check the packaging for the fasteners and hardware to make sure they’re labeled for use with pressure-treated materials.
Vinyl fencing is both attractive and low maintenance. The materials require an occasional rinsing but typically don’t rot, fade or suffer from other effects of weather and time. One advantage is the availability of pre-made panels, which can help with vinyl fence costs.
Vinyl fencing is available in styles like wood panel, picket, and rail fencing. Like wood fencing, vinyl fencing is also available in solid panels to create boundaries and privacy, or shadowbox panels that create visual interest and durability. Picket panels add a decorative look and work well for boundaries and containing pets. Vinyl rail fencing is made to mimic wooden boards and is a durable choice for defining boundaries and other areas of the landscape.
Typical panels can be 4 to 6 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide. Some panels allow limited racking, but others need to be stair-stepped. Vinyl rails range from 8 to 16 feet long.
Chain link fencing is one of the most affordable, low-maintenance, and durable fencing materials. These fences, sometimes called hurricane fences, can help keep children and pets in and keep nuisance animals — like raccoons, coyotes, and foxes — out. Higher chain link fencing can also improve security. Made from galvanized steel wire, the weather-resistant material is referred to as fabric and is available from 3 to 12 feet in height and in 10- or 50-foot rolls. Chain link fabric comes in different mesh sizes and wire thicknesses or gauges. The smaller the gauge number, the heavier the wire.