Comparing Vinyl Vs Wood Fence Cost, Durability, Pro’s & Con’s
In this modern era vinyl fencing has become a popular, low maintenance alternative to traditional wood fencing. Initially, options for vinyl fencing were quite limited, however year on year the options for styles, types, colors, shapes and sizes of vinyl fences are increasing all the time. A mid-range vinyl fence costs between $21 – $22 per linear foot installed, which works out at approximately $3,400 – $3,600 for a 164 linear foot project. The cost for wood fence however differs slightly in that they start at much lower prices, with costs ranging from $12 – $22 per linear foot installed.
In this article, we are going to explore the pro’s and con’s of wood and vinyl fences as well as examining the cost differences, styles, maintenance and durability of the two types of yard fencing.
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A Concise Comparison of Vinyl Vs Wood Fence
There are a number of reasons to choose a vinyl fence over a wood fence, and vice versa. There are also cost, style, maintenance and durability differences between the two types of fence. The following table provides a concise overview of the main differences in terms of cost, durability and maintenance for the two fence types. However, we have also provided a full overview of fence project costs for each type at the bottom of this page.
|Vinyl Vs Wood Fence Comparison|
|Vinyl Fencing||Wood Fencing|
|Cost||$19 -38 per linear foot||$4 – $33 per linear foot|
|Easy of Installation||Easy||Medium / Hard|
|Durability||20-30 years||10-15 years|
|Aesthetics||Good Short Term||Good Long Term|
|Maintenance||Low – Every 2 Years||Medium – Yearly|
Vinyl Fence Types, Pro’s, Con’s, Maintenance and Costs
Vinyl fencing has become more popular over the last decade. Initially, this kind of fence was only available in very limited types (initially split rail or post and rail) and in limited colors (white). However, with the increasing popularity, in part due to the appeal of a low maintenance product, the options for vinyl fencing have increased significantly. There are now a wide range of vinyl fence types, as well as colors, styles, sizes and options to suit most needs.
Vinyl fences are a great alternative to wood and iron fences, but what types are available and what are the pro’s and con’s?
Types of Vinyl Fence
- Picket Vinyl Fencing – Picket fence is a traditional type of fence usually available in 4 f.t. and 3 f.t. heights and various widths. It is usually available in white only but there are various styles including scallop spade tops, scallop dog ear tops, straight spade tops and straight dog ear tops
- Private Vinyl Fencing – Complete privacy vinyl fencing is a type of fence which has no panel gaps to see through. It is often ornate in appearance and available in 4, 5 and 6 f.t. panels
- Semi-Private Vinyl Fencing – Semi-private vinyl fencing, unlike privacy fencing, has small gaps between the pickets, however these gaps are a lot smaller than with standard fence and provide some privacy
- Vinyl Split Rail Fencing – Split rail or ranch rail fencing are the most popular type of vinyl fencing and often used where there is a large expanse of fence required, so that the maintenance required over a large area is as low as possible. Owing to its popularity this type of fence is available in a wide range of colors and sizes
- Vinyl Pool Fencing – Vinyl pool fencing is available for use around swimming pools and as such needs to comply with certain building codes for use specifically around pools. They are often picket style and either white or black. To meet building code regulations they are at least 4 f.t. in height and spacing of pickets is less than 4 inches to prevent small children getting through the gap.
Pro’s of Vinyl Fence
There are many positives associated with vinyl fencing, and that’s why its popularity is continuing to increase. Some of the main positives include:
- Low-Maintenance – One of the biggest positives of vinyl fence, and major benefits over wood fencing, is that it requires very low maintenance. Rather than being painted, vinyl fencing often requires simple cleaning with water, and providing this is done yearly then the fence will remain aesthetically pleasing. Wood fence requires yearly painting, yearly repair and upkeep, whereas vinyl fencing just requires cleaning
- Strength and Flexibility – Vinyl fence is slated to be around 5-6 times stronger than wood fencing. It is not likely to be susceptible to moisture or rot damage.
- Easy of Installation – Vinyl fence is easy to install owing to the fact that kits will usually just slide, pop and lock into place with minimal effort. For this reason the cost of installation is often lower than when compared with the cost of installation for wood fencing
- Maintenance Cost – The cost of vinyl fencing in comparison to the cost of wood fencing is quite a bit higher, but vinyl fence is lower in terms of maintenance cost compared to wood fence, so overall vinyl fence is a more affordable option in the long term
- Aesthetically Pleasing Short Term – Aesthetically, vinyl fence is an attractive option as you can see from some of the images above
- Warranty – Most large companies which supply vinyl fencing will provide it with a lifetime warranty, whereas in comparison wood fences will not last as long and therefore this is reflected in their warranty. In our comparison of cedar vs pine wood fence, you’ll see that cedar usually lasts 20-25 years and pine 10-15 years.
Con’s of Vinyl Fence
Whilst there are many pro’s of vinyl fence when compared with wood fence, there are also several con’s. These include:
- Not Easy to Repair – One of the major disadvantages to vinyl fencing is that it can’t be easily repaired like wood fencing can. Whilst it is a stronger alternative to wood, this does depend on the environmental conditions within which it’s installed. Where vinyl fencing has been installed into very hot climates it is known to be become more brittle and split with impact
- May Not Age Well – Wood fencing usually gains a patina over time with a degree of attractiveness as it ages, whereas the same cannot be said of vinyl fence. If you don’t maintain vinyl fence properly over time it won’t age well and will loose it’s bright and sharp appearance within just a few short years
- It’s Not Eco-Friendly – Vinyl fencing is constructed from a plastic composite material and so as such it not eco-friendly. Wood fences are made from trees and trees can be re-planted and re-grown.
Maintenance of Vinyl Fence
Vinyl fencing will require a lot less maintenance than wood fencing, however it will still require some maintenance in order to keep it looking clean and fresh. Usually you will need to complete maintenance tasks to your vinyl fence around once per year as white fencing in particular is susceptible to stains, algae, mildew and water marks. The best way to maintain vinyl fencing is to clean it with soap, water and a jet washer to remove any marks, dirt or stains. You will then need to apply a vinyl fence treatment to prevent mold and mildew returning. There are several articles on the web detailing how a vinyl fence should be cleaned.
Wood Fence Types, Pro’s, Con’s, Maintenance and Costs
Wood fencing is one of the most commonly used fencing materials and even though vinyl fencing is increasing in popularity, its use still hasn’t overtaken that of wood as a fencing material. In terms of the types of fences available in wood, pretty much all types can be brought in wood which also have a wide range of styles, sizes and options to suit your needs.
Types of Wood Fence
Wood fencing can be brought from most big DIY stores as well as being supplied by fencing contractors. The main types of wood fence include:
- Wood Split Rail Fence
- Wood Privacy Fence
- Wood Shadowbox Fence
- Wood Board Fence
- Wood Picket Fence
- Wood Trellis Fence
Pro’s of Wood Fence
There are several advantages of wood vs vinyl fence, these include:
- Wide Variety of Types – There are many different types of wood fences, more when compared with vinyl fence. There are also many different types of wood available, the most common ones being cedar and pine wood. Each type of wood has it’s own advantages and disadvantages
- Will Age Well – Wood fence tends to get better with age, it blends into the environment and gains a patina, particularly if it’s maintained well. Vinyl fence on the other hand will develop stains and marks over time. In extremely hot climates vinyl fence can become brittle and be prone to splitting
- Can Be Customized – Vinyl fence is how it is, it’s supplied in a color and style and you can’t change that. Wood fence on the other hand can be stained many different colors and shades
- Environmentally Friendly – Vinyl fencing is not environmentally friendly to produce, nor is it an environmentally friendly product. Wood fence comes from trees which can be regrown, and when it’s reached the end of its useful life it can be chopped down to sawdust and re purposed for packing, animal bedding, litter trays, stables etc
- Well Suited to Most Environment – Wood fence tends to fit into any environment regardless of the surroundings, there is usually a style and color to fit the area it’s been installed, whereas vinyl fencing doesn’t always fit well
- Can Be Repaired – Vinyl fence requires specialist fence repair, particularly if you want it to be a seamless repair, whereas wood is easy to repair yourself and even if the repair can be seen it will usually blend into the fence as it ages over time.
Con’s of Wood Fence
As well as advantages there are also a few disadvantages to wood fence when comparing it with vinyl fence:
- Can Rot Over Time – Wood fence will rot over a number of years, how quickly this happens will depend on the maintenance of the fence and the type of wood it’s made from (cedar rots more slowly than pine). The environment will also have an effect and fencing installed in wetter climates will usually rot faster, although most fences will carry a warranty of 10-25 years
- High Maintenance – Wood fence requires maintenance and quite a bit of it. You will need to treat and maintain a wood fence at least once a year to ensure it lasts as long as possible, and as outlined below there are quite a few maintenance jobs you’ll need to carry out. Vinyl fence on the other hand will require a wash and a clean every year or so, that’s all
- Harder to Install – Wood fence requires more skill to install, it will require the use of a hammer and nails or screws, in comparison to vinyl fence which usually slots and clips together.
Maintenance of Wood Fence
Wood fencing will require more maintenance than vinyl fencing. Common maintenance of wood fence includes:
- Looking for insect damage such as wood mites
- Checking for any warping, rotting and splitting of the wood over time and making necessary repairs and replacements to the damaged parts
- Looking for post rot which can happen over 5-10 years and quite often posts may require replacement
- Treatment with stain to either make the fence appear more aesthetically pleasing or to seal the wood and protect it from the elements.
Overall, the maintenance cost of wood fence in comparison to vinyl fence will be higher in terms of tools, material and time needed to make the fence last longer overall.
Vinyl Fence Cost vs Wood, Cost Per Foot
Vinyl fence costs and wood fence costs are comparable in the short term supply and installation, however the maintenance costs associated with wood fencing in comparison to vinyl fencing are much higher and more labor intensive. However, the overall look of wood fencing over time will usually improve as it gains patina, whereas vinyl doesn’t usually age in the same way.
|Fence Type||Cost of Materials||Installation Cost||Total Project Cost||Cost Per Linear Foot|
|Wood Fence||$1,312 – $2,788||$725 – $950||$2,037 – $3,738||$12.42 – $22.80|
|Vinyl Fence||$4253 – $4455||$1103 – $1155||$3150 – $3300||$21 – $22|
Vinyl Fence Vs Wood Fence Durability
Vinyl fence vs wood fence durability is a common question asked. Vinyl fence is more durable than wood fencing in that it’s less susceptible to splitting, cracking and warping, however it’s worth noting that this will vary depending on the environment and climate that the vinyl fence is installed in. It’s noted that vinyl fencing installed in areas with constant hot temperatures are susceptible to becoming brittle and with light impacts can break. Overall though, vinyl fence will be more durable than wood and will usually require less maintenance.
Overall vinyl fence is a good option to consider with many advantages over wood fencing. However vinyl fencing won’t be for everyone but we hope this article has helped you in making a decision by examining wood vs vinyl fence in some detail.