Wood and vinyl are two of the most popular fence options.
Both fence types are customizable and easy to install.
Wood requires more maintenance, and vinyl is a more expensive material.
If you’re shopping around for fence options, you’re likely looking to enclose your yard to keep your kids and pet safe or create more privacy from your neighbors. Or maybe you want to add a fence to improve your home’s curb appeal. Regardless of your reasoning, finding a sturdy, reliable fence that looks attractive and matches your budget requires some comparison shopping.
With wood and vinyl being two of the most popular fence options on the market, you’ll want to understand the difference between wood and vinyl fences to find the best choice for you. Let’s take a look at both of these fence options to find a winner for you.
The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Fences
Vinyl, which consists of plastic known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), has many benefits to homeowners when used as a fence material. Vinyl fences are sturdy and require little care.
Considering installing a vinyl fence? Check out these benefits.
Low maintenance: Vinyl is one of the best types of fences because it is easy to keep in good shape, especially since it’s pest- and rot-resistant. Keep it clean by wiping it down or spraying it with a hose.
Creates strong privacy: When the vinyl fence panels are installed close together, this material is effective at blocking wind or sounds from noisy neighbors.
Customizable: Another benefit to vinyl is that it is incredibly customizable with different colors, shapes, and textures.
Weigh these cons of vinyl fences before moving forward with your fence installation plans.
Not sustainable: Since vinyl is made with plastic, it’s not considered an environmentally friendly fence material.
More expensive: This fence material is more expensive than other options, like wood. You can expect to pay between $3,000 to $7,000 for a vinyl fence.
Sun damage: Over time, exposure to high heat and sunlight may cause vinyl to become brittle and impact the life span of a vinyl fence.
The Pros and Cons of Wood Fences
Wood fences have been around for hundreds of years, and it’s no wonder they are still popular today. Here are the pros and cons to consider when fence shopping.
Check out these benefits of installing a wood fence in your yard.
Versatility: Wood can offer charm or a modern touch, depending on the style and stain. With many different types of wood, plus various stains, paints, and sealants, wood has plenty of options to suit your home’s aesthetic.
Less expensive: Wood fences are less expensive to build than vinyl fences. A wood fence typically costs between $1,600 and $4,115.
Sustainability: Wood is a biodegradable material, meaning it’s a more environmentally friendly option than plastic materials.
While wood has its pros, it does have some vulnerabilities. Consider these drawbacks before installing a wood fence.
Weathers quickly: The wood material is susceptible to decay, rot, and warping due to weather damage. You can apply a sealant to your wood fence to minimize the weathering risks.
Requires annual maintenance: To keep a wood fence looking clean and fresh, you’ll need to perform regular upkeep, including washing the fence.
Short lifespan: Wood fences have a relatively short lifespan of around 15 years.
Vinyl vs. Wood Fencing
Wood and vinyl fencing have several differences that impact which option is best for your yard. Luckily, you can use this side-by-side comparison to determine the right fence material for you.
Both wood and vinyl fencing can look sleek, modern, rustic, or anything in between. Both types of fencing are available in a range of tones and textures to suit your style. If you want a more natural look, you might opt for wood. Vinyl fencing may work better for a modern aesthetic.
Most attractive fence: Tie
Options and Customizations
Some of the most popular woods for fences include cedar, pine, redwood, spruce, fir, and wood fences, which can be stained or painted. They can also be arranged a number of ways, both vertically and horizontally, to achieve a certain look or provide more privacy.
While wood has a lot of custom options, vinyl is even more versatile. This material is manufactured in many different shades, shapes, and textures. You can even find vinyl fences that resemble wood, iron, stone, or other materials.
Best option for customization: Vinyl
If you want a fence that can stand up to the outdoor elements, opt for vinyl. Wood requires more upkeep to help it withstand fading from harsh sunlight or warping from wet conditions. On the other hand, vinyl fencing is designed to prevent rotting, warping, decaying, chipping, and fading without any additional upkeep.
Most durable: Vinyl
Wood fences cost about $11 to $45 per linear foot for professional installation. The cost to install vinyl fences professionally is about $15 to $40 per linear foot.
For DIY installation, wood is a less expensive material at $1 to $10 per linear foot, while vinyl costs about $10 to $30 per linear foot. Vinyl fences may have a higher upfront cost, but this material offers a longer lifespan.
Best price: Wood
Ease of Installation
Both options can be installed by homeowners with some DIY experience, although it’s best to hire a fence installation pro to ensure your fence is installed securely in the ground and the panels are even.
You can purchase vinyl fences in kits for easy installation, but they require more care to ensure each piece is aligned. Misaligned panels are easier to spot with a vinyl fence compared to a natural material, like wood.
Easiest to install: Tie
Ease of Repair
Both vinyl and wood fences will need repairs over time, but neither material should be too difficult to fix. It’s simple to replace a single board in a wood fence, and a loose piece of vinyl fencing may snap right back into place. But you can expect to make more repairs with wood fences since this material is susceptible to weather damage.
Easiest to repair: Vinyl
Vinyl is a popular fence option because of how easy it is to maintain. With wood, you may want to add a sealant every few years to slow weather damage. Wood fences with stain or paint will also need fresh coats of paint every few years to look their best. Vinyl is extremely easy to take care of—you can spray it down with the garden hose when it looks dirty.
Easiest to maintain: Vinyl
Length of Life
Even a high-quality, well-maintained wood fence will likely not outlive a vinyl fence. Vinyl fences can last decades with proper care. Without maintenance, a wood fence may last only five years. With excellent upkeep, wood fences will last about 15 to 20 years.
Longest life span: Vinyl
When it comes to sustainability, wood is the clear choice. So long as it isn’t treated with a pest- or rot-resistant coating, wood is naturally biodegradable. Although vinyl fences may last longer, the manufacturing process produces dioxins, an environmental pollutant, and this material can leach chemicals into the environment.
The most sustainable: Wood