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A Comparison of Fencing Materials

Compare the pros and cons, cost, style & durability of wood, vinyl, iron & more

There are a wide variety of material choices for residential fences. Your climate, the style of your home and the purpose of the fence will all play a role in selecting the best material. Whether you choose wood, vinyl, wrought iron or another fencing material, you’ll want to understand the basics of fence installation so you can ensure it is designed and built correctly. With quality materials and proper construction your new fence will last for years to come.

Seattle, WA
  • Can be used to create curves
  • Natural appearance
  • Can be finished with stain or paint
  • May rot & have problems with pests
  • Costs of lumber are rising making manufactured products more considerable
Between $13-$19 per linear foot Versatile - many design & style options Depends on
-Type of post
-Type of lumber
  • Reliable products known to last for 10+ years without fading
  • Adaptable to many architectural styles
  • Color is limited to white, light tan and dark tan
  • For wide gated areas reinforcement is needed to prevent sagging
  • About $25 per linear foot
  • No-care vinyl installation costs the same as wood fencing with less maintenance issues
Natural stone varies by color and style but it’s important to match the stone on existing architecture Low grade vinyl is vulnerable to degradation from exposure to high UV light and extreme temperatures
Iron Fence Shop
Iron Fence Shop
  • Today mainly made of modern steel which is better than cast and is much more flexible
  • Less expensive than traditional wrought iron
Iron is the traditional product due to its strength, however rusts quickly if scratched
  • Residential grade at 6' height runs $22 per linear foot
  • Residential grade at 3' height runs $14 per linear foot
Wrought iron is typically used in traditional homes such as colonial or Victorian Forms have to be precise to reduce chances of a wave or a bulge
Lattice Fence, Fence On Wall
Pacific Sunscapes
San Diego, CA
  • Strong
  • Long lasting
  • Visually diverse & widely available
Doesn't rust but is not as strong as iron Between $24-$32 per linear foot
  • Modern architecture
  • Ideal for straight lines


Some aluminum fencing is more durable than steel, but not as stiff
Bamboo, Fence, Panels
Bamboo Fencer
Cambridge, MA
  • Perfect for decorative screens and privacy fencing
  • Easy installation
  • Environmentally friendly
  • May rot
  • Expensive compared to other fencing options
  • Needs occasional maintenance to keep tidy
Between $9-$11 per linear foot
  • Asian inspired gardens
  • Urban or city rooftop gardens
Some are carbonized for richer color, others are burned to give a light and dark tortoise shell effect
Chain Link Fabric
Hoover Fence Co.
  • Strong
  • Long Lasting
  • Great for sports courts
  • Not the most attractive looking fencing type
  • Mesh or slats must be added for privacy
Between $12-$14 per linear foot Used in gardens with sport courts, dog areas, or any area needing a temporary fence or boundary fence A thicker galvanization means a stronger fence overall which is more resistant to rust and corrosion
White, Fence
Landscaping Network
Calimesa, CA
  • Now offered in vinyl, picket fencing is a long lasting alternative
  • Vinyl means long lasting, low maintenance, and money-saving
Wood picket fencing has problems with the contact of the wood with the earth, and usually needs to be replaced after a short time Between $11-$14 per linear foot Colonial, traditional, rustic and country style homes can be accented with a picket fence
  • Depends on the material of wood or vinyl
  • Vinyl will last much longer, but will be a little more costly in the beginning

Contributing Author:

Maureen Gilmer, contributing writer for Landscaping Network, author and syndicated columnist

Related Reading:

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