After you decide where your fence will go, and the fence style you like, it's time to review material options. As you compare fence costs, you need to include not just materials but also installation and ongoing maintenance costs. Many homeowners pick a wood fence because it's cheaper but when you look at costs over 10 to 20 years, the cost of maintaining a wood fence might exceed the cost of vinyl.
Here we'll share relative fence costs from chain link fencing to ornamental wrought iron and walls constructed of stone or brick. Living walls are an option depending on how you plan to use your fence and in some areas, adobe fencing is used.
Chain Link Fencing
Chain link fences are one of the cheapest fences to install providing medium to high security with the rugged fence fabric. Beyond digging the post holes common to most fences, the chain link fabric is secured to the posts with an assortment of chain link hardware. Chain link is available in green, brown, black, the traditional silver color or you can paint it. Decisions you'll need to make include where to put the gates, fence height (4 or 6 ft), weight and diameter of vertical line posts and top rails, and the weight of the mesh fabric.
Wood Fencing For Any Budget
Wood fencing comes in a wide range of colors, sizes, styles (read Picking Your Fence Style) and quality (wood comes in grades from A which is clear, B has tight knots and C has larger, open knots) . Take time learning what is available locally, will work well with your home and fit within your budget. Consider ongoing maintenance and replacement costs when comparing different types of wood.
At the low end is pressure treated pine which is treated to resist insects and wood rot. Most wood fences are made from softwoods including pine (white, yellow or red with slight differences in hardness), cedar (white or red and doesn't have chemicals added due to it's natural resistance to insects), cypress (mildew prevention chemicals which are not dangerous to kids or pets) or redwood. Hardwoods last longer and are therefore more expensive. They include locust, oak, hemlock, ipe and more depending on local availability.
Vinyl and Composite Fences
Vinyl fencing simplifies ongoing maintenance. You'll simply want to wash the fence occasionally and scrub any stains or mold from nearby shrubs. There are plenty of vinyl fence manufacturers so your big decisions are:
- Will you install the fencing yourself or hire a fence company, which generally means they provide the materials?
- Do you want to buy the materials locally or order them online but if you do, check on warranties and be sure to check all parts immediately after delivery as over-sized products get damaged easily during shipping?
If you're not happy with the shiny look of vinyl, there are wood composite fence materials that look like wood and don't have to be painted. There are even new, sustainable composites like Terra Fence that offer a nice selection of fencing products made from wheat straw.
Aluminum and Steel Fencing
There are many aluminum and steel fencing products on the market that are maintenance free. They don't rust, peel or flake and never need painting. You'll want to get panels that are “rackable” so they can be adjusted when placing them on a hill. Steel fencing is a different metal that is heavier than aluminum, and while it will last longer, steel fencing will also cost more than aluminum.
All of your quality aluminum and steel fencing products offer coordinating gates. Many also have coordinating driveway gates and arbors, giving you the same low-maintenance solution for all your landscape features.
Wrought Iron Fences
While much of the demand for wrought iron has been displaced by aluminum and steel fencing products, wrought iron offers ornamental styles with intricate designs and even custom fences. Wrought iron fence products are available in 2 finishes – a standard painted finish or a powder coat finish, and come in a variety of colors beyond your basic black.
Stone and Brick Walls
Stone and brick walls are timeless and if your budget permits, you'll want to explore these fence options. Stone walls can be as informal as the collection of rocks gleaned from your yard to ones with intricate handwork by skilled masons. Brick is worth considering when the color and texture works well with your home and other landscape features like brick walkways. If you can't afford an entire fence from stone, it's common to combine stone/brick posts with a another fencing material.
We haven't discussed living fences using evergreens and other shrubs but that is better left to another article.