Different Styles of Fencing- An Overview

So you’ve decided to build a fence on your property. The problem is, there’s such a huge variety of styles, it can be daunting to make a choice. From traditional wood material such as cedar, to modern materials such as vinyl and aluminum, there are many materials to choose from. Once a material is chosen, there remains the decision of how the fence should be styled. We’ve put together some information that can help you narrow down your choices and find what you’re looking for in a fence.

First of all, choosing a material is a primary goal.  The main ones are wood, vinyl or aluminum.  Surprisingly, the difference in pricing is relatively small, varying only by a couple dollars per foot.  Wood fences tend to be slightly cheaper, followed by aluminum, and finally leaving vinyl as the more expensive option on average. 

Cedar is the most common material used for wooden fences, as the wood is naturally more resistant to rot and wear.  The main benefit to cedar is that it is highly customizable, and easy to repair. It can be built to varying heights with ease and it can be stained or painted different colors.  A basic privacy fence is simple, more affordable and quick to build. Or you can choose to build what’s called a modified panel fence, which includes a top rail and trim boards for a more finished and sleek look.  Boards can be installed vertically, or horizontal. Additionally, many people are fans of the traditional look of a wood fence. The downside is wood fences typically require more maintenance than the other materials. 

Aluminum is another option, and it comes with some unique benefits. Obviously, it is highly durable and long-lasting, and it is the strongest material on our list.  It is an excellent choice for containing large dogs, and it is also more likely to stand up to falling branches and other aspects of harsh weather. It comes in a large variety of colors and textures, so it’s easy to pick a style that matches your vision for your property. However, it’s important to note that aluminum fences do not provide privacy, as the pickets are thin and there are no boards to fill in the gaps of the fence. 

Finally, vinyl fences are becoming more and more popular in the last several years.  They offer a middle ground between aluminum and wood; although not as strong as aluminum, vinyl is highly durable and won’t wear, and is also almost as customizable as wood. They come in open picket styles like the aluminum fences do, or you can buy solid panels that offer more privacy. It is still not as adjustable as wood, but there is a growing amount of styles to choose from.  Something to keep in mind, is that vinyl fences typically come in prefabricated panels that are assembled together. This means that if any damage occurs, you will likely have to replace the entire panel instead of just replacing a board.  

To sum it up, each material has their strengths and weaknesses. If you want a fence that will be highly durable, strong and long-lasting, aluminum is an excellent choice. If you want a beautiful custom fence that gives you privacy and can be adjusted to your exact specifications, wood is the way to go. If you want something in between, vinyl is a great option.  With the plethora of choices available, we hope we’ve been able to give you useful information in your journey toward picking the perfect fence for your home!

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Written by Jeremiah Oropeza, Crew Lead, PHM

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home improvement tips specific to Pacific Northwest homeowners